Your daily structure is your operational framework success. Once the mindset for success is achieved and the goals are determined, then the execution must begin. As long as you always know what you need to do, you will never be working aimlessly. Focusing on what is most important allows both your conscious and unconscious mind to work toward accomplishing your goals.
Daily planning is essential to achievement. Daily planning is not about goal setting or affirmations. It is actually determining what specific actions you will take the next day to make sure you are staying on your path to achieve your highest potential. Ignore the natural desire to write down a 25-item to-do list. You might have a 25 item list that outlines what steps you need to take to accomplish your goals, but this not a to-do list. Those lists are not effective at helping you get your most important work done. They hurt your ability to focus and can make even small tasks seem daunting.
You choose how to spend your time. You must make many choices everyday. By eliminating clutter and focusing on what is most important you are choosing to be effective. The daily planning method I use is called “3 and 3 Planning”. Each night before you go to bed you write down the 3 most essential things you will accomplish the next day and then write down the 3 additional things you must do to take yourself to the next level.
Essential Tasks are things you must do. No excuses. No matter what happens, these three items must get done. When I started they were:
- Prayer – Meditation
- Reading Inspirational Scripture/Material – 30 min. minimum
- Express love to my wife and kids through Words and Actions
I was committed to those three actions and they became a part of me.
The next step in the nightly planning process is to really erase all of the clutter and determine what three tasks would take you to the next level of success. Not 4, not 5, but 3 specific actions. These tasks can be constant, other times they change daily. Really, it depends on what actions will create the most dramatic impact on your achievement.
When you create your goals, your should also list all the steps that will be required to achieve those goals. You outline each step along the way. Whether it is 5 steps or 25 steps, the next most important three steps become your 3 additional things you will accomplish. If you have responsibilities at work and need to finish a project for a client, then that item might become number 1. For me at the beginning my Next Level Tasks looked like:
- Exercise: 15 minutes cardio, 20 minutes weights
- Call and Nurture 10 prospective clients
- Write 10 Thank you notes
If I had a sales call next week and was giving a presentation, the next level task might include presentation prep everyday for a week, but when that presentation was over, it would be dropped off. Next level tasks are determined by your responsibilities as well as your goals.
After 30 days or more, some or all of your essential tasks will become habits and therefore have no need to be written down and they can be removed. Then some of your Next Level Tasks can be moved to Essential and you can replenish the Next Level Tasks. For example: If you had an Essential Task of reading educational material for 30 minutes a day and you did it for 30 days in a row, it is now a habit and is part of you. You own it so it can be removed. One of your Next Level Tasks, such as Exercise for 20 minutes that you did for 30 days (as long as you really did it) can now be moved to the essential task since it is part of who you are. Not all Next Level tasks need to be moved to essential, as many are one-time projects. Next Level Tasks can change daily if needed, or can become longer-term tasks that become essential once you have mastered some of the more essential tasks.
Anything you complete in addition to the items you wrote down in the “3 and 3 Planning” is bonus, extra credit, and will help you. But do not focus on those things, focus on the structure first and let other items come later.
It is easier to be committed to a few things then try to do everything at once.
The value of simplification allows your mind to focus on what you want to accomplish. Greg McKeown wrote a great book on how to simplify your life:
Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less. By creating a process to determine what you must do, and what you should do that is short, concise, and precise you will be able to execute and accomplish far more than just by creating mega-long to-do lists. Having the right frame of mind is the foundation for your life. Your defined goals are the design of your future. Your action plans determine the structure of your success. Thus, your decisions do determine your destiny.
– Mareo McCracken