Being ambitious is easy. Staying focused on whats in front of you is hard. The greater your ambitions, the more goals you’ll have and the more numerous the steps will be to achieve them.
In my ten years or so of gaining leadership experience and learning theory, I’ve come to conclude that the notion of multitasking is bullshit. Splitting your attention across multiple projects and obligations is far less efficient than focusing like a sniper on individual tasks and picking them off one by one. Multitasking is a great way to tell people you’re working on all these great things at once, but if you’re finishing them at all, its taking much longer than it should. I’m sure there are people out there who can juggle things effectively, but I think its a small minority and all the proof you need is to see how most of the people around you can’t do it. They ignore messages or forget to return them, they flake or miss deadlines. Having many projects and goals in mind is fine, but you’re far better off focusing on one at a time, breaking it down into parts and executing in sequence, rather than spreading your attention.
I recently started the 30 Days of Discipline program from Bold and Determined. Part of the program is keeping a notebook with you at all times and using the evening to plan out the following day. Your “to do” list must be completed at the end of each day. If you aren’t finishing the list you’ll quickly realize why you’re not getting things done. The problem usually is that you’re not breaking down big projects into digestible parts. I’ve been putting off writing a book review that I’m submitting for publication, but I finished it recently when I put “book review writing 1 hour” on my schedule and finished the review over the course of several sessions, rather than putting it off and dreading doing hours of work all at once.
For the bigger projects we have in mind, we usually have no clue how long it will really take to complete. Most of the time we massively underestimate how labor intensive our ambitions really are. The best way to make meaningful progress on these projects is to attack them 1-2 hours at a time. After a few sessions like these we’ll have a clue as to what it will really take to reach our goal. “Start a web-based business” is not something you should ever put on your schedule, there are too many moving parts. But what you can do is “register a domain name”, “setup up a basic WordPress blog”, “write your first post”, “read 5 articles on affiliate marketing”, each of which can be done in under an hour.
A tactic I’ve come to use recently is to not use my smartphone calendar for these goal-related tasks, since its too easy to put it off and reschedule. Use your calendar for appointments and reminders, but use a notebook for your goals. I use this one. I suggest you plan out your day the previous evening and list your top 2-3 goal-focused tasks to accomplish during that day. You’ll quickly realize what’s preventing you from progressing and you can make adjustments as necessary. Note your successes and what worked for you as well as your roadblocks and how you plan to overcome them.