What are Your *Most Important* Tasks Are you Busy or Productive?

When you simply don't have time for everything on your list, decide which tasks hold the most value, and focus on just a few each day.

Have you ever had a day where you worked yourself frazzled only to discover that by the end of the day you really didn’t accomplish much at all, and the things you should have done are still sitting there, staring you in the face?

Buring Ourselves in Busy

Getting things done during the day seems to be a constant struggle for most people I know. “I’m so busy!” or “There aren’t enough hours in the day!” are phrases that I hear so very often. And I get it! I say them myself definitely more often than I should.

So why do we find ourselves “busy” so often? And what does that really mean? How much of what you’re doing every day actually propels you forward toward your goals? Because really, it’s not about how much you’re getting done… it’s about what you’re getting done, and if you’re accomplishing those things that are really going to help you get where you want to be.

If you’re measuring your success based solely on the number of things you accomplish every day without thinking about the actual progress you’re making toward your goals, you might want to take a couple steps back, because you’re overworking yourself for no reason.

Hopefully you understand the valuable nature of time. It’s a limited and oh-so-precious commodity, one that must be safeguarded and respected. And so often, we waste it away like it’s nothing.

We will always hаvе things that will need to get dоnе, but the trick to staying productive is is figuring out what the right things are, and making sure we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck. Establishing your “Top 3” every day and focusing on these tasks first can help boost your productivity and help you get the most out of your limited time.

If you’re tired of wasting it away and want to spend your time the most effective way possible, this is probably the best way I’ve found to help me feel like at the end of the day, I’ve been productive and gotten not just a bunch of things accomplished, but the right things. Sound good? Let’s go!

 

Discovering your MIT

Hеrе are the five ѕіmрlе ѕtерѕ to hеlр уоu establish your “Top 3” and tо gеt thе rіght things done:

1. Brain Dump

Get a piece of paper and write down all the things you think you need to do. If you’ve never done a brain dump, you can find more information about this process here. The idea here is that you’re going to get everything out of your head so you can process it all later on.

2. Establish your Goals & Priorities

If you haven’t done this in awhile, make sure you spend some time thinking about and writing down what you want to achieve in life, as well as what you value most. In order for you to make the best use of your time, you need to know what’s important to you and the direction you most want to head in.

3. Organize

Here you’re going to begin organizing your tasks based on importance, keeping in mind your goals & priorities. Remember: if it doesn’t align with the direction you’re trying to head in, it can possibly be deferred or dumped.

When you simply don't have time for everything on your list, decide which tasks hold the most value, and focus on just a few each day.

4. Schedule

After you’ve narrowed down your list based on what you really need to do, now you can decide the order in which you need to do them. Do any of your tasks have a deadline? Which are the most “urgent” tasks, and which are just there for “someday?”

5. Evaluate

Fight the urge to be tempted away from this important step. Albert Einstein stated that the definition of Insanity is “doing something over and over again and expecting different results.” This is where Evaluation comes in.

Periodically (I like to do this informally every evening or morning)  you need to take a step back and make sure that you’re on the right track. If you’re still not feeling productive at the end of the day, or you’re still feeling guilt over not completing everything on your list, are you really completing your Most Important Tasks? Are there other things that could be a better use of your time, even though they may not be as “fun” or externally rewarding? Or perhaps you need a mindset shift in understanding that you really can’t get every single thing done, but that it doesn’t make you a failure.

Whatever it is that you need to change or do differently at this point, you have to do a periodic evaluation to discover what needs to change and take steps to make it different.

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I know that was a lot to digest in such a short time, but here’s the good news: if you like this idea of establishing and focusing on your 3 MITs, I go into it in further detail in my FREE course “Transform the Overwhelm: 7 Days to Peaceful Productivity”, which you can sign up for now. Every day for a week you’ll receive detailed instructions, exercises, and support from me as you navigate your own list and work to transform those feelings of overwhelm into true productivity.

Goalsetting: Change Your Life, Not Your Circumstances Behavior-Based Goals

Don't set superficial goals- set goals that will stretch you & help you progress. Set goals that are going to change your behavior and your life.

Do you find yourself making the same goals year after year, but not actually accomplishing them? How great would it be to actually see a little of your own personal version of success?

I’ve made a lot of goals over the years, and I’ve learned that if you want to set yourself up for real, lasting success, you need to combine your regular goalsetting practices with behavior-based goalsetting.

What is Behavior-Based Goal Setting?

Think for a moment about how you currently set and track your goals. Are they based on your desire to achieve a specific result? Chances are, the answer is yes.

Goals that are based purely on outcome are called results-based goals, and they usually involve a desire to change our living conditions: A promotion at work, spending less money, a newer car, cooking more healthy foods … all of these are results-based goals because they aim to change our circumstances.

But there is a different type of goal that doesn’t focus on the result at all. Rather than focusing on WHAT we want to achieve, this goal is more concerned with changing our behaviors, which make achieving the results we want easier and far more sustainable. These are called behavior-based goals, and in making positive changes in our habits, (or behaviors), we are in essence creating stepping stones on our way to our ideal outcome.

Don't set superficial goals- set goals that will stretch you & help you progress. Set goals that are going to change your behavior and your life.

Positive & Lasting Improvement

Results-based goals tend to focus on the things you do and the actions you take. Behavior-based, on the other hand, ask you to change how you think and act in certain circumstances. It’s more intrinsically motivating than outwardly rewarding- you have to look at how you’re acting and reacting to your world- not just what comes out of those actions.

On the other hand, because behavior-based goals are so internally based, it makes it really difficult to measure and evaluate, especially while you’re still in the middle of progression. With result-based goals you can count the number of meals you make a week, and you can track the money you spend and if you achieved that desired promotion. “Success” is very black and white. This is why we tend to (more often than not) make results-based goals. After all, we like to see progress add up, don’t we?

Many times, when we set goals, we focus on the negative- what we don’t want rather than what we do want. Behavior-based goals focus more on the behaviors we want to strengthen & grow, rather than the negative actions we want to remove. In strengthening the positive behaviors, we change the way we act- it goes beyond putting a band-aid on the situation that we’ll just have to fix again later.

Let’s say you make a goal to lose 20 lbs. A few months later, you’ve worked hard enough to achieve that goal! (Go, you!) You’re finished now, right? Hard work over?

If only! If you lost that weight using a fad diet or weight-loss product, as soon as you quit using those items, won’t the weight just return? Instead, you need to change your behavior- you need to create healthy habits like eating well and moving your body. You need to create systems in your life that you can live with, permanently, so you don’t fall back into your old ways.

 

Results & Behaviors: Working Together

Results-based goals are not inherently bad, and behavior-based goals aren’t necessarily “better”. They’re both necessary, but I think people tend to only be concerned with the goals that give them quick results. Common goalsetting practices don’t normally include both result & behavior-based goals, which when they work synergistically together, they go beyond the surface and really help you change your life in the most positive, productive way.

When & How to Utilize Behavior-Based Goals

If you’re having trouble meeting a results-based goal you’ve set for yourself before, think about the possibility of changing a habit or behavior in your life instead. For instance, if you set a behavior-based goal to increase your productivity but spend all morning on Facebook looking at cat videos, you’re not really going to accomplish much, are you?  That’s how behavior-based goals can help – your “results-based” goal is valid & honorable- you just need to figure out how to cut the Cat Video Distraction once and for all.

It’s a lot simpler than you think to link your results-based goals with your more intrinsically motivated behavior-based goals.

  1. First just decide what you want to achieve, long-term. These are your traditional results-based goals that you’re probably already used to making.
  2. Then ask yourself: “What positive habits will I need to create in order ensure this goal is not only met, but also sustained?”

Whatever habits you need to make or actions you need to take will become your behavior based goal. See how they work together?

Examples of Behavior-Based Goals

So what kind of goals can you set? Below are some examples of what behavior-based goals can look like, but just know that any goal that helps you look at your attitudes and internal motivations & behaviors will probably work. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but will help you get an idea.

Don't set superficial goals- set goals that will stretch you & help you progress. Set goals that are going to change your behavior and your life.

Hopefully you can see the beauty of combining behavior-based goals with results-based goals. By utilizing them both, your chances of achieving your desired result, and sustaining the positive changes you’ll begin seeing all throughout your life as a result, are much greater than by using just one of them alone.

FINISHING THOUGHTS

Whatever your goals, whether you aim to get more done, get out of debt, make new friends, or lead a healthier life, I hope you’ll try setting a few behavior-based goals of your own and I promise that by carefully developing them, it won’t be hard to see the benefits add up.

Want to evaluate goals of your own? Download the FREE printable below to get started!

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Next Steps:

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