To master self and business leadership, you must master goal setting, planning, and execution.
The book starts out with a quote from Thomas Edison...
If we did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."
You know that's the truth.
You know people who are half as talented as you working half as hard and making twice as much.
Maybe they're lucky. Maybe they are cheaters. But maybe they are just better at planning and execution, which is what authors Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington call "the single greatest market differentiator."
(Maybe that's why Seth Godin created "The Ship It Journal Five Pack," but I digress.
The authors claim that you and I could "double or triple (our) income just by consistently applying what (we) already know."
But we are all infected by shiny object syndrome.
We're looking for the easy button.
They tell the story of Ann Laufman who became the first female associate of the year in the 103-year history of Mass Mutual Houston who grew her sales 400% by executing better.
It's not what you know; it's not even who you know; it's what you implement that counts."
This book is to help you and me "close the execution gap."
Their system is flexible and scalable and works for "individuals as well as groups, both personally and professionally."
So let's focus on what matters, maintain a sense of urgency, get important things done, and drop "the low-value activity that keeps (us) stuck."
Part 1: Things You Know You Know
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." ~John Wooden
Redefining The Year
"...there are always more ideas than you can effectively implement. The breakdown is not in knowing, but in applying."
You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do." ~Henry Ford
The annual planning process is holding you and your company back.
They call it a trap because it pushes off urgency until it's too late. You and I need to be effective every moment of every day, thus the "focus on shorter time frames."
Just because you and your company have a plan and you actually make a plan, it "does not mean that they are accomplishing what they are capable of."
There's nothing like a deadline to get you motivated."
We all get more done at the end of the year because we procrastinate less. It's "an exciting and productive time."
They give an example of athletic training called periodization that runs just four to six weeks and produces drastic improvements in the performance of those who complete it.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle
Think. Act. Experience results. It's that simple. So to change everything, change your thinking.
By executing on a 12 Week Year you'll have more "clarity regarding what is important, and a sense of urgency each day to do what is necessary."
So each 12-week period becomes your new year. You can start this at any time. All that matters is that you have an end date where you determine if you succeeded or failed.
This shortened timeframe enables you to keep your deadlines so close that they are always in sight. You also get to "experience the anticipation of a new year every 12 weeks."
Just like a 12-month year, "every 12 weeks you take a break, celebrate, and reload." You also "take time out to reflect, regroup, and reenergize."
The Emotional Connection
This is not complicated, but neither is it easy, per se.
Taking new actions make us all uncomfortable, so you better "have a strong emotional stake in the outcome." You get this by "creating and maintaining a compelling vision of the future that you want..."
Behind every impossible achievement is a dreamer of impossible dreams." ~Robert K. Greenleaf
"Your personal vision creates an emotional connection to the daily actions" you need to take.
To find your lost passion for your work, create a more powerful, clearer vision.
All my life I wanted to be somebody. Now I see I should have been more specific." ~Lily Tomlin
Your brain—at least part of your brain known as the amygdala—is scared of change, and this 12 Week Year is a big change. So part of your brain wants to stop you from doing this because the path is uncertain.
However, another part of your brain—the prefrontal cortex—balances out the scaredy-cat amygdala and gets excited by new ventures. So keep moving forward because "our brains have a powerful capacity to change" and "the areas that we use frequently actually grow" via what is known as neuroplasticity.
So you've already begun to change your brain for the better by reading this blog post and thinking about your new vision. And your brain doesn't know the difference between thinking of an action or taking the action so keep thinking as you prepare to act on this new, more compact, more profitable 12 Week Year.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~Mary Oliver
Throw Out the Annual Plan
A vision without a plan is a pipe dream."
Planning is important. It will make you more productive by reducing mistakes, saving you time, and giving you focus.
When you plan and act on a 12 Week Year you'll find it to be more predictable, focused, and structured.
You will become "great at a few things instead of mediocre at many things."
Planning keeps you well-balanced between being frozen due to too much complexity or wandering aimlessly due to too little detail.
You've probably suffered from 12-month plans that were not written with implementation and execution in mind.
If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." ~Yogi Berra
Once your 12-week goals are documented it's time to shift to tactics, "the daily to-do's that drive the attainment of your goals.
Tactics must be specific, actionable, and include due dates and assigned responsibilities."
One Week at a Time
Your actions create your results.
Planning for the future is fine but you must "act in the day" much like the founder of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Sir William Osler, did when he described his secret to success was living and working in "day-tight compartments."
The greatest predictor of your future are your daily actions."
Your future is created by the actions you take today.
An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
As you begin creating your weekly plan keep in mind that it is much more than a "glorified to-do list."
Its purpose is to keep you focused on what matters as determined by your 12-week plan.
You'll spend the first 15-20 minutes of each week reviewing your progress from the previous week and planning the week that has just begun. Then you'll spend the first five minutes of each day reviewing your weekly plan and confirming your activities for the new day.
Keep it with you at all times. Work off of it daily. Allow yourself to rise above the noise of the mediocre majority and give yourself permission to work on what matters.
Confronting the Truth
Sports are entertaining and motivating because we keep score. Studies dating back to the 1960s have shown that achievement and recognition are the top two motivators, and how do you know if you're making progress and achieving your goals? You keep score.
This is your reality check.
I remember in high school we used to have a cheer that went like this:
Look at the scoreboard and guess who's behind.
YOU! YOU! YOU! YOU! YOU!
Creative, huh? But it got the point across. Sure you'll try to rationalize that the field was wet or the refs were against you or the other team cheated but the scoreboard doesn't lie.
The sooner you come to terms with the score in your life and then identify the cause(s) of the shortcomings, the sooner you can get to work repairing them and growing beyond them.
If you can measure it, you can improve it.
In God we trust; all others must bring data." ~W. Edwards Demming
You need to know your two types of key numbers.
- Lagging indicators
- Leading indicators
If you're trying to lose weight, numbers such as your body fat percentage, pounds lost, and cholesterol are lagging indicators. You measure them after some amount of time to see how you've done.
The same is true for your income and bonuses. Those only come after the sales and other business goals have been achieved.
Leading indicators "are the activities that produce the end results." This could be the number of outbound calls you made, the number of badges you scanned at the trade show, or the number of proposals you sent.
Most companies focus on the lagging indicators, which is why they are surprised and have a frantic sprint to the end-of-month / end-of-quarter / end-of-half / end-of-year period.
In my No More Sales Duds program for sales managers, I stress that you must manage activity and pay on results.
You and I cannot force someone to buy from us but we can force ourselves to get to work on time, have a plan, follow the plan, measure the effectiveness of the plan, and adjust the plan accordingly to continue surpassing your goals.
So the most important leading indicator is your execution. When you are measuring what is getting done in a timely manner you can identify small issues as soon as they arise and rectify them before they become big problems.
Yes, a stitch in time really does save nine.
But since most focus on the lagging indicators they blame their missed goals on the plan rather than on the execution.
Chances are high that you have a good plan, so stick to it absent some tectonic shift in the market or in your company. That means you must execute. To adjust a plan without measuring how well you are executing is just a guessing game.
Truth is the only safe ground to stand on." ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton
That's where your Weekly Scorecard comes in. Measure, monitor, and manage your activities, your execution, and the results will take care of themselves.
Yes, this will be uncomfortable at first because you'll quickly see how poor you are at execution. The authors call this discomfort "productive tension." (Did you know there is an Institute for Productive Tension? Me either.)
But you don't have to be perfect. That would create too much tension and hinder production, so aim for completing at least 85% of the activities in your weekly plan. That should keep you on track to reach your 12-week goals.
The key is to commit to sticking with the plan and allowing the productive tension discomfort to push you to take the necessary daily actions to win.
Measurement is key because you cannot expect what you do not inspect.
"...your supply of time is completely inelastic—and perishable."
Time is still limiting our results despite the advent and proliferation of CRMs, time management tools, daily planners, and efficiency experts.
According to a study by Salary.com, people waste an average of two hours per day! How glorious does a plan have to be to make up for a 25% reduction in the daily execution and productivity of your staff?
Get better at saying "yes" and "no" instead of reacting to and engaging with everything that gets thrown into your lap. You must control your days instead of allowing your days to control you.
It's called intentionality.
It's not enough to be busy; so are the ants. the question is: What are we busy about?" ~Henry David Thoreau
Blocking Your Time
As old Ben Franklin said,
If we take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves."
- Strategic Blocks: a focused three-hour block with no interruptions where "you focus all of your energy on preplanned tasks." This is where you get big, important things done. Create big results and breakthroughs in this time.
- Buffer Blocks: focus your mundane things here and become more productive. You may only need a single 30-minute block per day to respond to emails and do paperwork or you may need a couple of one-hour blocks. Either way, schedule time for the "unplanned and low-value activities," because they have to get done. They just don't have to take all of your time.
- Breakout Blocks: time to live your life. This is at least a three-hour block of time where you spend time during work hours on something that is not work-related. Personally, I started doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 4-6 days per week with at least three of those sessions in the middle of the day. This will reinvigorate you in more ways than you can imagine.
If you are not in control of your time, you are not in control of your results."
Routines are vital to performance and achievement.
I cover this in session one of The Make Every Sale Community.
Accountability as Ownership
Our last free act—after which no further free acts are possible—is to deny that we are free." ~Peter Koestenbaum
Accountability means you own your life, your work, your time, your schedule, your productivity, your results.
You own your life. You have freedom of choice. You are not forced to do anything in life, even though you may feel like you do.
And it's "this freedom of choice that is the foundation of accountability."
When you approach a task as a "choose-to" instead of a force obligation, everything changes.
You make the shift to engage and release your creativity instead of trudging through a burden.
Since there are always outside events that are beyond your control, with accountability and ownership you come to realize that "the only things you control are your thinking and your actions." And that's all you need...if you own them.
If you "confront reality and the truth of your situation," living a life of accountability is empowering.
Interest Versus Commitment
Keep your promises to be great.
Commitment is an act, not a word." ~Joean-Paul Sartre
Unless commitment is made, there ae only promises and hopes; but no plans." ~Peter Drucker
The American Heritage Dictionary defines commitment as "the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action."
It's too easy and common to see our interest diminish when things become difficult.
When we are committed we drop the word "if" and only focus on "how."
The four keys to successful commitments are:
- Strong desire
- Keystone action
- Count the costs
- Act on commitments, not feelings
Having reasonable timelines for your commitments makes it easier to keep them. A 90-day goal is easier to meet than a 90-year goal. Likewise, a 12-week year is easier to finish strong than a 12-month year.
I first experienced this in early 2001 when my friend introduced my wife and me to the Body For Life Challenge started by Bill Phillips.
Because it was only 12 weeks long with alternating cardio and weight-lifting days that were planned in advance, including one "cheat day," we both experienced tremendous results and have followed the core principles of the program ever since to stay healthy.
Greatness in the Moment
Technology is taking away our downtime, and that's a bad thing. "In our efforts to not miss anything, we unwittingly miss everything."
That's why I love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
It forces you to be present in the moment because you're in close proximity to someone who is trying to choke the life out of you and/or break every joint in your body!! (But we're all friends in the end.)
To be effective you must be mentally present.
The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time." ~Abraham Lincoln
The only way to be great when the situation calls for greatness is to decide and commit to preparing daily for greatness. Tom Hopkins calls it PDR—Practice. Drill. Rehearse.
Therefore, your results are the confirmation of your greatness, which you exhibited when you did the work required to achieve your goals.
Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present." ~Roger Ward Babson
A 1% improvement on a weekly or even a daily basis is almost imperceptible, but when those improvements compound over a year or three or five you experience the difference between greatness and mediocrity.
The challenge of work-life balance is without question, one of the most significant struggles faced by modern man." ~Stephen Covey
There will never be perfect balance, therefore, the real issue pertaining to life balance is more about "intentional imbalance."
When it's 20 degrees in Dallas in the winter is Mother Nature "out of balance" or is the temperature intentionally imbalanced for a season?
The same is true in your life...and mine.
There's no such thing as a work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences." ~Jack Welch
What is a "fan," as in the human not the thing with blades that push air around?
It's the root of "fanatical."
It's someone fired up and "out of balance" when it comes to supporting her team.
It can also be a fanatical entrepreneur who is out of balance during the R&D phase of launching a new idea for their business.
The problem arises when you try to be fanatical about everything, i.e. shiny object syndrome, and run yourself and your business and your family into the ground.
So know where to focus by starting with your vision then rating yourself in the seven areas of life balance:
Rate them all on a scale of 1 to 10 and recognize how each interacts and affects the other, then push to bring them all to a healthy score.
Putting It All Together
A year from now you'll wish you had started today!"
The Execution System
The eight fundamental elements to the 12-week year are:
- Process Control
- Time Use
- Greatness in the Moment
Knowing these concepts and applying them correctly to your life are not the same. So let's get to work on applying them.
- Accountability: this is ownership of your choices. It's asking "What more can I do to get the result?"
- Commitment: made to yourself. It's "accountability projected into the future."
- Greatness in the Moment: doing the hard right thing when nobody is watching.
- Vision: living life by design, not by chance.
- Planning: a vision without a plan is a pipe dream.
- Process Control: eliminates frustration because you know how to execute and progress.
- Measurement: have the courage to keep score, otherwise, you're running blind.
- Time Use: stay in control of your days or your days will control you.
The Emotional Cycle of Change
Applying all of this requires change, and change is hard because it's uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable because of the highs and lows we experience as we try to change.
Seth Godin describes it in his book "The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)."
Psychologists Don Kelley and Daryl Connor described this in their paper "The Emotional Cycle of Change," and it includes five stages:
- Uninformed Optimism: it's fun here. You see the benefits and none of the pitfalls. You pass quickly through this stage.
- Informed Pessimism: "Ugh. Is this really worth it? How important is this to me now? How long will it take to realize the benefit of my change?"
- Valley of Despair: Most give up here. The pain has peaked and the benefits seem far away. This is where "you rationalize that it wasn't so bad before." Quit here and you get to go back to the fun stage one. If you have a compelling vision it will nourish you out of the valley.
- Informed Optimism: Your work is starting to pay off. Fun is returning to your work and your life. Accelerate!
- Success and Fulfillment: What was once hard is now routine.
Follow this in its entirety and it becomes a "self-correcting system" that "facilitates change" and makes us let go of our "familiar and predictable" current, ineffective systems.
It gives you the stability we all need. Sure, business and life are always changing but the 12 Week Year is not.
Its structure and focus, principles, and disciplines remain consistent. It's the foundation of everything you do.
In other words, "The 12 Week Year is not one more thing you do, it is how you get things done!"
Establish Your Vision
Your "why" matters and it needs to be powerful. This is what the authors call your vision. When disasters strike, look for the "fireweed," the signs of regeneration.
Your vision has the potential to give you the emotional energy you need to "inspire positive action even in an environment of charred earth."
Your personal visions are often funded by your professional visions, which should be in alignment, and they should be big. You should be at least a little uncomfortable with the size of your vision.
Impossible, Possible, Probable, Given
You probably allow the "how would I do this?" question to stop you from ever starting, yet it's the wrong question.
In my sales training, I emphasize that whoever is asking the questions is in control of the conversation.
I also remind the members of The Make Every Sale Community of two more key aspects that highlight the importance of asking good questions:
- A fool can ask more questions than 10 wise men can answer.
- It doesn't matter what the truth is if you're asking the wrong questions.
So start by asking "What if?" In doing so "you give yourself permission to entertain the possibility and begin to connect with the benefits." This will deepen your desire and you begin to see a glimpse of your new and better future.
Once your thinking changes, you're never the same.
When you're open to the possibility of a new you by asking "What if?" you can begin asking "How might I?" Now you're shifting from the visioning question to your planning question.
As you begin to execute your plan you shift from possible to probable to given. You remove your doubt and you're standing tall at the finish line!
Crafting Your Vision
Ideally, your vision is a balance of your personal and professional goals because your personal vision is what will see you through difficult times.
You'll create three time horizons for your vision:
- Long-term aspirations: let your mind go and embrace the big dreams that you've allowed to be ignored or delayed because they are "impractical, or too audacious." Be bold and courageous as you look 5, 10, 15 years ahead.
- Mid-term goals (about three years ahead): be specific here. The more specific you are here, the easier it will be to create your 12-week goals and plan.
- 12 Weeks (covered in more detail in the next chapter)
Having a clear vision is not "soft and fluffy." When properly engaged it's "the ignition switch and power source of high performance. It is the all-important why behind the things you do."
Help your team own this process as well. (Great questions on page 85.) Always start your individual coaching sessions with the vision of your staff member.
If someone is reluctant to it is probably because "they own their current comfort more than they own the future described in their vision." So you/they have a choice:
- Lower your expectations in life.
- Find the courage and discipline to execute the plan with consistency.
Common Pitfalls and Success Tips
- Pitfall 1: You don't take the power of vision seriously. Strong-willed, Type-A personalities just want to dive in and skip this "fluffy stuff," to their detriment. I know. I'm the king of the Type-As and I've struggled for years as a result of not having a clear, documented vision.
- Pitfall 2: The vision isn't meaningful to you. Give yourself time. It takes time to get this clear and documented.
- Pitfall 3: Your vision is too small. Your vision should challenge you.
- Pitfall: You don't connect your vision to your daily actions.
- Success Tip 1: Share it with others.
- Success Tip 2: Stay in touch with your vision. Print it and keep it with you. Review it and keep it updated.
- Success Tip 3: Live with intention. Review your progress daily.
Develop Your 12-Week Plan
You need to have established your vision to effectively create your 12-Week Plan so get that done before you move on.
Planning Is Beneficial
I'm guilty of having an "action bias," which has its benefits but "it can also get in the way of effective execution." Those of us with an action bias tend to get impatient and can suffer from moving too quickly, i.e. we leap before we look.
Planning does take time but it is like the sharpening of the ax before you chop down the tree.
We don't plan because we think we know what to do, and for the most part, we do. However, there are always gaps. Also, when the noise and the distractions and the unexpected events of life pop up we fall back into our comfort zones and we lose our focus.
To stack the odds in your favor, create a written plan and work from it.
Working via the 12 Week Year you'll notice that you place more value on time. You'll learn to work and "act in the moment because that's where the future that you will experience is being created"
"With an action-based plan, you don't have to rely on input triggers to initiate your actions; instead, your plan triggers your actions."
You'll also have a more consistent focus on the "few vital actions that drive your results," a.k.a. the 80/20 rule.
"You only focus on the minimum number of actions that are most important to hit your goal."
With the short time horizon, uncertainty is reduced, you can plan better, which means you can plan for action—proper action.
Since annual plans include so much uncertainty, they are usually focused on objectives, which are tough to execute since they emphasize "what" instead of "how." Without the "how," there is no scope, which leads to you taking on more than you can execute.
Plans are meant to clarify execution, but most use them as loose collections of ideas and thoughts. Good plans start with good goals, and your tactics to achieve those goals "start with a verb and are complete sentences."
Here are the five criteria to help you create better 12-week plans:
- Criteria 1: Make them specific and measurable.
- Criteria 2: State them positively.
- Criteria 3: Ensure they are a real stretch.
- Criteria 4: Assign accountability. "Everyone's challenge is no one's challenge."
- Criteria 5: Be time-bound. Deadlines help everyone get things done.
" Your 12-week goal is the bridge between your vision and your 12-week plan."
Keep your plan simple.
"The fewer goals and weekly actions there are, the easier the plan will be to execute...There are no perfect plans...at its most basic level, planning is just problem solving."
Once your goal(s) is(are) on paper prioritize your daily and weekly actions and write them complete sentences, starting with a verb.
As you begin ask yourself:
- What actions will I struggle with?
- What will I do to overcome those struggles?
Action is key. It's too hard to act on the esoteric goals or objectives of a typical annual plan, but you can execute the actions of your 12-week plan. Planning before acting can make you as much as 20% more efficient, so start planning!
If you have a team be sure to assign ownership of specific tactics to one person, even if a team will work on it. And do not "overestimate the capacity of your team." Keep the plan succinct with minimal activity. Finally, do not front-load the plan. Balance our actions over the entire 12 weeks.
- Pitfall 1: Your 12-week plan does not align with your long-term vision.
- Pitfall 2: You aren't staying focused. Too many goals lead to too many priorities and too many tactics.
- Pitfall 3: You don't make the tough choices.
- Pitfall 4: You don't keep it simple.
- Pitfall 5: You don't make it meaningful.
Installing Process Control
You start with a vision, which helps you create your set of 12-week goals. These goals determine your plan, which is kept on track with process control.
New actions are usually uncomfortable. "Without structural and environmental support, follow through becomes a constant exercise of willpower...(which) has a fatigue factor."
Michael Phelps didn't feel like getting in the pool every day but he did want to win gold medals so he had a structure in place that he followed to the letter.
Your weekly plan is a powerful tool and it "is not a glorified to-do list." Also, it's not something "that you create each week based on what happens to be urgent at the time." It is what must be done each week to stay on track to hit your 12-week goal.
But don't go it alone. Peer support has been shown to help members achieve their goals nearly 700% better than lone wolves.
The authors recommend having Weekly Accountability Meetings—WAMs—with two to four members to foster "individual accountability to consistently execute your plan."
These are short meetings—15 to 30 minutes—usually held on a Monday. They are not "punitive." Rather, the WAMs are "used to confront breakdowns, recognize progress, create focus, and encourage action."
The Weekly Routine
You must take daily action on your plan. Follow this "three step process called the weekly routine" to ensure you're on track.
- Score Your Week
- Plan Your Week
- Participate in a WAM
You are 60-80% more likely to execute a plan that is on paper instead of in your head. When it's in writing it "eliminates ambiguity and creates transparency." This can make you uncomfortable, which leads to making excuses that are "designed to avoid personal accountability."
If you think "only weak people" need WAMs and written plans then you're actually the one who is weak.
If you have a team you need to lead by example then inspect what you expect.
Measurement drives the execution process."
Allow yourself enough time to slow down and see the details. It can be simple and still be effective but it must be timely.
Your 12-week goals are better than 12-month goals but they are still lagging indicators. To create the "greatest opportunity for growth" is effectively measuring your execution in a timely manner.
"In general, the more frequent a measure is, the more useful it is."
What are your lead and lag indicators for each week?
If you can get to at least 85% of your actions completed each week, you're on a good path towards hitting your goals for the 12-week period.
Remember that you are not measuring results each week. You're measuring "the execution of your planned tactics."
You can get lucky and hit your short-term goals while missing your execution but you cannot allow that to become the norm.
You must execute to build a predictable, repeatable business that scales.
From Wikipedia: William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 – December 20, 1993) was an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant. Educated initially as an electrical engineer and later specializing in mathematical physics, he helped develop the sampling techniques still used by the U.S. Department of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
He was also instrumental in the resurgence of Japanese manufacturing after WWII due to his consulting and instructions around quality and statistical process control.
In other words, the dude was smart. And he was a stickler when it came to measurement, as are Moran and Lennington in "The 12 Week Year." They say "Without measurement it's virtually impossible to hit your goals."
They also encourage you to "focus more on the actions than the results." For over a decade I've taught sales managers to "manage activity and pay on results." In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu we are taught to experiment in training. Try new things. Don't worry about having to tap to someone younger or smaller or a lower belt. The idea is to try new things and grow. You'll get better by doing the right things so often that you can't help but do them correctly.
That's why you keep a score of your daily actions and review your performance weekly. This "is the most accurate predictor of your future."
As a team leader, you must understand that measurement is not accountability.
Measurement is just feedback. If your team is punished after your measurement shows low numbers they will "avoid and even openly resist measurement."
Accurate measurements help you "confront reality and breakdowns," which helps you create the new reality you seek.
"Ideally you want the performers to measure themselves." Those who are committed and have a fire burning in their bellies will measure and track their own progress.
When there is a breakdown in results, you need to know if it was caused by a breakdown in your execution or your plan content. There's a BIG difference and the only way to know for sure is by measuring both results and execution."
Take Back Control of Your Day
You have plenty of time if you learn to allocate your time properly. The authors call it time blocking, I call it batching. Setting aside time to do similar work at similar times allows you to focus, which is hard to do today.
A study by Microsoft found interrupted workers "took on average 11 minutes 20 seconds to resume" their work.
If you're interrupted just once per hour you can see how an 8-hour day can easily take 10 hours to complete. You must protect your time, which is why blocking / batching is so important to achieving your goals.
The difference between super-achievers and you "lies in your moment-by-moment choices. Most people make choices that increase their short-term benefits and minimize their short-term costs."
How much time do you spend watching TV, binging on Netflix, playing video games, debating strangers on social media, or just mindlessly surfing the web?
How do any of those activities help you move from surviving to thriving, from stress to success to significance?
Appearing busy does not mean you are effective. In fact, you are probably making yourself busy to avoid working on the more important things, which are also more difficult, hence their importance.
Eventually everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
To become great requires discomfort, sacrifice, and paying the price. So how bad do you want it?
Are you ready to "live with intention...to say no to things that distract you...to guard your time intensely, delegating or eliminating everything possible that is not one of your strengths or does not help you advance your goals"?
It is rare that you will turn a weakness into a strength so focus on your strengths to make real progress. Identify your "unique capability" and do that! You'll also benefit because you probably enjoy doing that which is unique to you and it's okay to be happy working on your greatness.
But this requires strategic thinking and planning. However, rarely will this strategic work show immediate results. This is why you need a vision, a plan, and measurement.
Now that you understand the concept of blocking, let's revisit the three time blocks the authors call Performance Time:
- Strategic: three hours that should be scheduled early in the week. One per week should be fine.
- Buffer: meant for lower-level work of 30-60 minutes in length done once or twice per day.
- Breakout: designed to give you a life and avoid burnout. Also three hours in length and done once per week BUT ONLY after the 12 Week Year is working for you. So start with one Breakout Block per month until then.
There will always be low-level work that must get done so you can't totally eliminate it. However, you can schedule and block it so it does not expand into the majority of your work.
Turn to pages 134-135 for a template for creating your model work week. Build this on paper before you try to execute it.
Avoid letting the unplanned requests of clients and prospects distract and derail you. Rarely does someone have an issue that can't wait 30 minutes to half a day for your attention.
You must value your time more than others value theirs or you'll always be a slave to the clock and driven by the whims and requests of others.
Since you've made it this far you know that you cannot get it all done. You already have more unfinished work than you can get to in a month so stop trying to run faster, longer, harder. It's time to make this shift and focus on the strategic and eliminate or delegate the low-value but noisy work so you can achieve greatness.
You're not looking for incremental improvement. You're looking for a radical shift, a profound change to create exponential growth. This starts with how you treat your time.
You can do it. You can find the time to make this happen. You will scale your systems and processes and team to handle the growth you will create. Remain stuck where you are or trust the process.
Thousands of years ago Ezekiel was reminding us that yes, your position in life is your fault. He was right.
As long as we continue to be victims of our circumstances, we will experience life as a struggle and others as a threat."
Accountability, on the other hand, allows you to gain control of your life, to shape your destiny, and to fulfill your potential."
If you want to be successful, be accountable.
This is not about placing blame or finding fault. It's only focused on "what it takes to create better results."
- merely feedback.
- not a permanent condition.
- not a person.
- an event.
So stop defending the actions you did or did not take and study them so you can learn from them.
You win or you learn.
Sometimes the lessons are hard to take and they expose some even harder changes you must make. You can only grow or die.
And don't overlook the little things because small hinges swing big doors. It's that attention to detail that will make all the difference in your success. So own every aspect of your business and your life.
When you combine your desire to grow with the discipline to follow a proven process to grow, you are stacking the odds in your favor and you will grow.
This is needed because life will always throw something unexpected your way. Having a plan helps you stay the course and endure.
While you cannot control the setbacks that come your way, you can control how you respond to them. The world does not care if you are having a bad day of if your little feelers are hurt. Suck it up and face your adversity. Own your reactions. Adapt and overcome or die.
Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences." ~Robert Louis Stevenson
12 Week Commitments
The four keys to successful commitments:
- Burning desire
- Clear actions
- Count the costs
- Act on commitments
Commitment: The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to some course of action."
List two Personal commitments you have made and kept with yourself.
What are the benefits of keeping personal commitments?
What is the impact of breaking a promise?
It is better to say no than to break a promise.
We all have a tendency to over-commit, which wears us down and erodes our relationships.
Because commitments will require you to sacrifice, in addition to learning to say no, you will need to train yourself to think about and connect with the longer-term benefits versus the short-term inconvenience and discomfort. Delayed gratification is the productive thought."
Failure is you letting go.
Fallure is what happens when you fall after you've pushed yourself as far as you can and can climb no farther.
Commitments help you find your limits. "Go to fallure, not failure" because "the process is more important than the result."
Your First 12 Weeks
We all need fast wins. This program "brings your vision into the present..."
When you focus on your vision you can handle short-term discomfort.
If you pursue a plan with more than one goal the benefits of planning diminish quickly. (Report by Amy N. Dalton and Stephen A. Spiller.)
If you think the actions you must take are too big, you'll hesitate in taking action—if you take action at all.
Focus on achieving one big, meaningful goal at a time.
Why do you get so much done on a plane (assuming you turn the WiFi off!)? It's because you narrow your focus and remove distractions.
So start small in your actions and set short, quick progress milestones to build momentum. The more progress you make, the more proficient you will become at execution.
...work from a written plan,...what psychologists call 'implementation intentions,' helps to create new behaviors even in the presence of your old environmental triggers."
Eliminate your victim mentality.
You are greater than your circumstances. You can control how you think and how you act. Become and remain accountable. This is how you will become great.
So dive into the 12 Week Year. Be honest in rating your progress. Recognize the opportunity costs of how you spend your time. Connect with your vision and engage in the process to achieve it.
Get off to a fast start and commit to staying on track for the first four weeks. You will notice how much easier the second four weeks will become. In the final four weeks, you will finish strong.
In the 13th week, you will have an opportunity to apply greater effort if you need it to hit your goals. You will also have time to assess your performance and decide what, if anything, you will change in the next 12 weeks.
Final Thoughts and the 13th Week
It's time you've got after it. But only you can define what it is.
If you'd like some help, contact me to determine how I may be of assistance.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.