I am going to tell you nothing new and yet it will be valuable if it moves you to take action. These are the 3 easy to apply tools that will help you progress in a stable and consistent way, whatever your current goal might be:
- Define your KPIs
- Maintain an action tracker
- Focus on one thing at a time
I will dive into each of these standard business tools in some detail below. As I said, they might be known to you already, but the secret of their power lies in applying them on a regular basis.
Define your KPIs
KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator and it is used to measure performance towards a certain goal. For example, if my goal is to become an authority on a given subject and I do that by blogging, some of my KPIs worth tracking could be:
- My Productivity: number of blogs per week ( my goal is 7, I am almost there ;-))
- Audience Engagement: number of blog page visits, number of comments left on my blogs, number of newsletter subscribers, etc.
For each KPI you can set an initial goal and work towards it. Once per week, or in any case on a regular basis, you need to seat down and evaluate your success. You will either have a moment of great satisfaction cause you are moving in the right direction. Or you will have some insights on what needs to be adjusted if the results are not as expected.
Maintain an action tracker
This one is really easy and it takes no more than 5 minutes a day. You need an excel sheet or any other tool that supports To Do Lists.
Write down the most important actions that you need to do tomorrow to progress towards your desired goal. You do not have to write all the things you do, just the most important, challenging ones or those actions which are not yet part of your daily routine.
For some time I used my paper journal for this, cause I love writing with a pen. However, it is difficult to spot trends over a longer period by flipping the pages all the time. For this excel is a much better tool. Every day at some point you need to do a quick check on how far are you with the actions of today and write down the actions for tomorrow. I do it in the evening before I go to bed.
With this tool, you are holding yourself accountable. You can see trends such as procrastination of some important actions for weeks or on a more positive side, you can realize that you have been exercising 3 times per week for a month now, just as you wanted, so make sure celebration is on your action list for tomorrow.
Focus on one thing at a time
When you are enthusiastic about something or have a big, exciting project ahead, it is often very difficult to know what is the next best action to do today. If you have 10 things, all contributing to your goal, how do you prioritize them?
Instead of feeling overwhelmed and inefficient, switching from the one to the other task, you need to focus. In other words, the only way to eat a whole elephant is bite by bite.
I personally love multitasking and for me, it is very difficult to stay disciplined and focused on one thing at the time. Luckily, there are books to help me manage myself better. If you are like me, I recommend you to read this book by Greg McKeown.
It talks about how to make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter to you. It talks about how to free time by focussing on the essential stuff and actively and consciously acknowledging and accepting the trade-offs we make, the things we leave for later, or maybe never.
All in all, these 3 tools are very easy to use, but it takes a systematic discipline to make them move you in the desired direction of reaching your goals.
Let me know what are the tools you use to stay on track!