There’s one thing I’ve just started to do in my own business that proves to be the biggest lever ever. After all these years, I can’t believe I haven’t formerly done it before. I’ve been “at my own business” for over 20 years, and at corporate business for even longer. Strangely, I’ve always done this subconsciously in my corporate job, but I’ve had “context block” about it in my own entrepreneurial pursuits.
Simply put, I score.
I give a special valuation to each task I set to do each day. The value is a measure of how crucial that task is to achieving my goals. Basic stuff, right? True, but how many of us intentionally do this each day? I don’t know many.
As a product owner for an agile development team, it was easy to know how to prioritize my team’s work. I’ve used a combination of weighted shortest job first exercises, value to to the market, risk factors, and effort and capacity estimates—that and pure intuition. But even so, it seemed something very fundamental was missing in these measurements: the cruciality of an action to achieving a strategic goal for our group, our product, or our company.
Greg McKeown discusses this in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. He describes how we diffuse our momentum when we distribute our actions instead of focusing them towards achieving that one, most important thing we are striving for. People—I know we don’t like it, but we are going to have to pick one thing and concentrate on getting it done.
Todd Herman, a sought-after performance coach for athletes and entrepreneurs, has a great way of explaining the dangers of context switching and diffusion. I especially love Todd’s 90 Day Year program, where we score our tasks according to how much or little they further our business or personal goals. This one insight has been worth the price of the program. In his method, we give a dollar value rating to each task we have planned for the day. The values vary according to the stage of your business, and we use them to calculate a daily target in terms of dollars of worth that our actions produce. It really isn’t complicated—and putting a monetary value on our tasks quickly surfaces which ones should be delegated, how we are wasting our time, where our resistance is, and the things we do to avoid pushing through it. Brilliant.
For example, this system helped me quantify how much I’ll further my future success by writing this post. I could easily see it was worth writing. I could also easily see how some of my other posts might not be helpful enough for my readers. As I started this process, it became clear that I needed to completely revamp my content plan. High value for me is directly related to high value for you. Subject matters. I quickly saw that I’ve been over-focused on musings (important in the right amounts) and under-focused on “quick wins”.
So what do you do if you can’t get into Todd’s program? (It reopens soon.) Here’s a simple method to get you started:
- Pick the most important actionable goal for your business or personal life. It should be outcome-based, for example, I’ll add 200 people to my email list in 90 days, or I’ll lose 15 pounds in 90 days.
- Plan your day. Each day, spend some time choosing the tasks you’ll accomplish toward your goal. Don’t forget to score your planning time.
- Score your tasks. Todd has a great system for making sure you hit your daily requirement, but at the very least, rate your tasks on a scale and prioritize them by highest to lowest impact for your goal.
- Retrospect how the day went. Were your eyes bigger than your stomach? Did you think you could accomplish more than what you did? (This is one of my vices.) Did your daily actions land you closer to or further from your goal? Look at what you prioritized highest and either change your priorities or get real about your commitment toward your goal. Be realistic about the time you will choose to dedicate to achieving it.
Don’t overthink this. Keep it simple or you won’t do it. Life interferes, so design your process to resist the unexpected, but unavoidable, intruders. Have fun and let me know in the comments how this worked for you.
(Photo: My first Entrepreneur Score Card from The 90 Day Year. Egads!)