Running through the beautiful hills of Murrieta, California, I felt like I was running underwater. I couldn’t maintain a respectful speed and my legs were screaming. I have been a runner for 4 years, and for 3 of those years, I progressively grew faster and gained endurance. This last year, however, I took a step backward. Running was never anything I thought much about. I put on shoes and ran a specific set of miles and that was is. I had “big picture goals” such as completion of my first half and my first full marathons. There were certain trials I wished to conquer. Once completed, I didn’t create new goals other than continual running. Singular achievement goals are great goals to have, but they are achieved and forgotten.. For me, achieving these goals marked the end of key component to my training: intentionality.
Whether running, writing, parenting, or anything important to you in your life, don’t take for granted that you will always move toward your goal “automatically”. Yes, it does happen. Sometimes. Why take the chance? The tyranny of beginners luck or the honeymoon phase of new endeavors can fool you into thinking things will always be easy. Here’s a list to guide you toward maintaining intentionality and relentless forward movement.
1. Differentiate the daily from the long term goals. Steven Covey pointed out the difference between tasks that are important and urgent (doing laundry, answering the phone, cooking dinner) and those that are important and not urgent (getting your Master’s Degree, exercise, writing a book).
2. Align high energy (physical and mental) tasks appropriately. For me, this is typically in the morning before the kids are up. If you have a spouse, this time should be agreed upon as your time to focus on your high level tasks (writing, research, excersise, etc. ).
3. Align the mundane tasks (important and urgent) that don’t involve high levels of thinking or creativity to times when you are less creative for you. For me, that’s in the evening after working and i’m distracted by kids’ homework and tired from work. This is a great time to hang a picture, do dishes, or clean the patio. Not a great time to research for my book.
4. Write it all down. It seems as though the one thing all productivity speaker/writers agree on is the absolute necessity of writing things down. Goals, tasks, ideas.
5. Create an internal sense of urgency. Guard your quality time from internal distractions such as getting off task (Facebook, twitters, checking the weather) and outside distractions (phone calls, emails, unimportant tasks). You have to REALY want this!
6. Keep perspective. Baby cries, 9 year old is sick, wife had a particular bad night not sleeping. These things happen. Understand the difference between pause and procrastinate (click here to read my article on this topic). Sometimes the urgent and important trumps the not urgent and important. It is up to you to maintain contingencies but also keep perspective on when to allow “intrusions’ upon your times. if you are in a positive and intentional workflow, you purpose can handle occasional interruptions.
What are you doing TODAY to be intentional?
Rocco De Leo