WOW. I spent the last three days in a retreat with my business coach and nine of her other private clients. I can't think of another time since I started my business when I've been more inspired, productive and efficient. Over those three days I was able to do the following:
- Firm up my new mission and vision for my business
- Write a script for a video for my website
- FILM that video for my website
- Create an outline for my new method for welcoming clients into my community
- Draft a new marketing strategy
- Brainstorm a slew of new tools I can offer
- Cultivate relationships with a dozen amazing women
All of these tasks have been on my to-do list for a while, but I haven't been able to make much progress with distractions and other excuses often getting in my way. So what was it that made these three days so motivating and productive for me?
Commitments and deadlines.
I walked into this retreat knowing there was a finite amount of time available for me to get things done, and even though I didn't know the agenda in advance (my coach likes for things to be a surprise), I knew I'd be presented with opportunities to really move the needle in my business. Knowing these opportunities would exist for me over those three days, I made a conscious commitment to make the most of my time there. I clearly understood the benefit that attending this retreat would provide to me and was acutely aware of WHY I was making that commitment.
Once the retreat began and I learned that my coach was going to provide us with an amazing opportunity to shoot a professional video for our websites, I realized the clock was ticking for me to get clear on my new mission and vision so I could write a cohesive script with a message that made sense by the time the camera started rolling. Deadlines are no joke. There was no time for me to say, "but first I have to do market research!" or, "wait, I've got to brainstorm and mind-dump and ask everyone and their mother their opinion first before I can decide on my new mission!" There was a crew and a backdrop and a camera waiting upstairs for me to get in front of whether I was really "ready" or not.
The biggest take-aways for me from this experience were that in order for me to be productive I really DO need a deadline with some level of accountability attached to it, and if I intend to stand by my commitments I have to know WHY I'm agreeing to them to begin with.
I guess I can be somewhat wishy-washy with some of my own deadlines when the only person they're impacting is ME. When someone else is counting on me for something, I'm all over it like the Broncos on gameday. But if I'm the only one who will suffer from my lack of follow-through, I tend to let myself off the hook and allow my commitments and deadlines to slide. Especially when I'm not crystal clear on WHY I'm committing to them to begin with.
Do you ever find this happening to you too?
Maybe it plays out something like this:
- You've got this fantastic idea for a new business and make a decision to spend an evening after work brainstorming how to get it off the ground, but then that evening rolls around and you're too tired to think about it so it becomes another "when I've got some time" idea
- You decide to begin a workout routine because you "should" be exercising regularly, but if a friend isn't waiting for you to meet them at the gym week after week, you might show up in the locker room a couple of times before getting "too busy" to go back
- You decide that the book that's inside of you is just dying to come out, so you set up a schedule to start writing every morning, but after the first couple of mornings you find that you get distracted by things happening around you (internet, kids, work stuff creeping in, etc.) so the book gets shuffled to the back of your brain again
Does any of this sound familiar?
So what can we do to shore up those commitments to ourselves and ensure we actually get shit done? Here's what I'm committing to, starting today; I'm calling it the Stopwatch Challenge and I invite you to join me in it too.
The Stopwatch Challenge
For the next two weeks, whenever there's a task to accomplish, commit to doing the following:
- Look at the tasks that need to get done and have a dialogue with yourself around exactly WHY it's so important to check them off your list. If any "shoulds" show up in that WHY Analysis, rethink your commitment
- Once you know the WHY behind your tasks, you can really make a commitment to completing them
- Then, when it comes time to jump into them, set a stopwatch (I've got a great, built-in app on my phone) for between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on the complexity of the task. Why 15 - 45 minutes and not longer? Because a short interval like that is MUCH easier to commit to than telling yourself to sit still for an hour or more. Be realistic with yourself so you can make a realistic commitment
- From there you need to REALLY commit to allowing no distractions during that stopwatch interval
- Then dive in head-first and complete as much of the task as you possibly can during that 15-45 minute window
I tried this for the first time this morning with two separate tasks and got SO much done, I actually surprised myself. By understanding WHY I was committed to completing these things (this morning it was because moving my business forward is critical to the short-term plans my husband and I have), and then giving myself a real, FINITE deadline within which to complete them, I felt compelled to make progress. In fact, I'd set my timer for 15 minutes for each task and ended up working for well over 30 minutes on each one. Don't be surprised if this happens to you too.
So, are you in?
Two weeks and a handful of to-do's on your list just waiting to be crossed off; what have you got to lose?
Tell me in the comments below what your biggest to-do priority is that you plan on accomplishing during the Stopwatch Challenge, and also share your WHY for taking it on. I can't wait to see what you guys are working on!
If you need a little extra motivation towards achieving your goals or knocking shit off your to-do list, consider taking advantage of a free 30-minute A-to-B Strategy session with me.
Click here to learn more and get one on the calendar.
(Then you can finally cross it off your to-do list!)
With love and inspiration (and a new appreciation for deadlines!)