Separating Planning & Execution
If the first task of your day is to organize your day, you’ve already failed.
I’ve spent the past couple months going through the Zero To Dangerous course from Steven Kotler, and this is one of the best things I’ve learned.
“Thinking About Work” and “Doing Work” are separate skills.
They also require different types of thinking. When we’re thinking about work, we’re considering things like:
- Is this the best way to approach my goal?
- Am I doing the right tasks? Are they going to drive the correct outcome?
Those are healthy thoughts — but when we’re sitting down to actually get stuff done, they turn into distractions.
If you’ve ever had an hour to accomplish a task on your calendar, but instead spent the hour thinking about the task without accomplishing it, you know what I mean.
It’s not procrastination, it’s just a lack of planning.
Step 1: Set Cascading Goals. Write Them Down. Be Specific.
Motivation isn’t real — it’s just a reflection on the quality of your goals. So the first step here is to take some time and set actual, long term, aspirational goals. I think that humans are bad at doing things if they don’t know why they’re doing them in the first place.
5 Year goals. Annual goals. Quarterly Goals. Monthly Goals.
Goals at each level should roll up to the next one in a way that makes sense.
Step 2: Weekly & Daily Activity
Feel like you’ve got too much BS in a week. Good…start getting rid of it. But how do you know what’s real and what’s fluff?
You guessed it — GOALS. Set a max of 3 weekly goals, and 3 goals for each day in a week. Just like the rest, they should cascade.
They won’t be the only things you do in a day…but they’re the things that you damn well need to make sure you spend time on.
Alignment between your daily activity up to your long-term goals is the key!
Step 3: The Power of a Weekly Planning Session
I generally despise “working” on weekends, but the outsized results I get from a 1hr time investment on Sundays make this worth it — especially because it’s not just work stuff; I capture personal goals in here as well.
Every Sunday, I review my “goal stack” — long term to short term — to make sure I’m still pointed in a right direction and to audit my activities.
From there, I set my Weekly Goals (max of 3), and my Daily Goals for each day (max of 3 per day). I put em in my notes app, so I can make sure I set eyes on them every morning. Lastly, I review my calendar for the upcoming week to ensure that I’ve got time to do the most important tasks (Daily Goals).
That’s literally all I do. It’s simple…but not easy. The result? I roll into Monday morning like a MF-ing tornado, knowing exactly what I need to do, why I’m doing it, and have zero hesitation — because I’ve already considered whether or not it’s the right thing to do before the week starting.
All that’s left is to sit down and do the work.
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