If you’re like most of the owners, entrepreneurs and service providers I know, chances are you have a lot of things you want to accomplish this year, correct? Absolutely! You wouldn’t be in charge if you didn’t.
However, if you’re also like most of the people I know, I can also guarantee one other thing about your list of things you want to accomplish … most of them aren’t dated. Or, if they are, they’re probably dated by the end of the quarter (“This is a Q1 priority” or “This is a Q3 priority”).
And therein is the problem. If there isn’t a specific date when something has to be accomplished (or if all the Q1 priorities are due on 3/31), the chances of that item (or those priorities) being accomplished is greatly diminished. Now, in case you’re tempted to rush by this post thinking, “Hey, that’s a pretty simple idea!” may I encourage you to look over your list of things you want to accomplish this year and see how many are dated!
I look over people’s goal lists (and strategic plans) frequently and this one “simple idea” is violated all the time. In fact here are some simple goals and tactics that often aren’t dated.
- Launch a new product
- Hire a new staff person
- Write a book
- Obtain five speaking engagements
- Update our website
- Create a new opt-in
- Enter a new market
- Start a new service
- Upgrade (or update) our database
- Hold three customer “rush” campaigns
- Hold two customer focus groups, etc.
You get the idea. It happens all the time. Ideas are generated. But they rarely get dated. So, instead of getting something done in the next two weeks, it happens, maybe, in six to twelve MONTHS.
But what if you got in the habit of dating things when you first created them? What if you said, “Okay, we know our website needs to be updated. We’ve talked about it forever. So, let’s see. Today is January 24th. Let’s have this project completed by February 24th. Just about anything can be completed in 30 days.” Then you can work backwards.
Or, instead of saying, “I want to launch a new product this year.” What if you said, “I’m going to launch a new product this quarter on March 20th (Note: not 3/31). So, I want the product completed by March 1st and the first marketing pieces to go out on March 6th.” If you did that, don’t you think you’d get more work done faster? Absolutely!
You see, the great thing about deadlines is that they create action. It’s no different than the person who in January books a cruise for April 7th and “all of a sudden” starts losing weight after years of not being able to. Deadlines incite action (if you care about meeting them. If you don’t care, that’s a whole different conversation).
Note: This deadline idea can also be used during the course of a day. If you say, “I need to write an employee review today,” who knows if it’ll get done or how long it’ll take. But, if you say, “Today, I need to complete Joe’s review in under one hour before 10:00 a.m.” I bet you’ll get it done (i.e. more work done faster).
So, take a look at your list of things you want to get done this year (or this quarter or this month or even this week). How many of them are dated? If you’re really serious about getting them done, date them.
And, if you want to take this idea up a notch here are a few more ideas
- Make the dates public (i.e. tell someone else or post them somewhere public)
- Challenge yourself to pick a date sooner than you think the project can be completed by (if you think you can get something done in four weeks, pick a date three weeks out).
- Hire someone now who’s needed at a later phase (for ex. a videographer for a shoot in two weeks even though you haven’t started writing your video script yet).
For some reason, maybe it’s because of our educational backgrounds, most of us entrepreneurial leaders keep looking for some kind of new or novel ideal/tactic that will make us instantly more productive—when sometimes the very best ideas are those we’ve known all along … like adding deadlines to tasks. Seems like such an obvious solution. But it’s not, because it’s rarely practiced. So, don’t make that mistake. If you want to get more work done faster, unleash the power of deadlines into your work every day, every week, every month, every quarter and every year. You’ll be glad you did!
To your accelerated success!
P.S. To make this infinitely practical, pick one project you’ve wanted to get done that hasn’t gotten started yet. Pick a date for it to be completed that’s sooner than you normally would pick. Then tell someone when you’re doing to complete it by.
P.P.S. If you have some other productivity ideas that you think others of us might benefit from, make sure you add them in the comments section below (or, if you’re reading this by RSS or email, click HERE to post your ideas in the comments section).