By Deiric McCann Head of International, Genos International. Speaker/writer on sales, marketing & leadership. Author 5 books incl. Leadership Charisma. Leadership Blogger. See more by him here.

Do you ever feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done – that life is just whizzing past you?

If so don’t despair – it probably means nothing more than that your busy schedule has knocked you just a little out of focus.

To get back on top of things you’ll need to revisit a time when you were in total control, and at a Zig Ziglar seminar years ago I heard a story that told me how to do just that!

Day before vacation

Think about your last day at the office before you went on your most recent vacation.  Didn’t you get as much done in that day as you’d normally get done in two, three, or even four days? (Be honest!)  Let’s look at that day before vacation and see what you did:

  • Night before.  On the night preceding the day before your vacation you likely sat down with a piece of paper (or your PDA) and listed all of the things that had to get finished the following day, your ‘gottas’ (“I gotta do this, and I’ve gotta…”).  Then you committed that they’d all be done by the time you left the office next day.  Right?
  •  That morning.  On the morning of the day before your vacation you arrived at the office on time, maybe even early.  But you didn’t head for the coffee machine – no, you got straight into the first gotta on your list.  You likely also did things in a slightly different order to usual – I’ll bet you took the least favored, most distasteful task on your list and got it out of the way quickly instead of having it hanging over head all day long (the way you normally would!).  Once you got eating of that frog out of the way you were feeling pretty good, and so you tore into the next task on your list, and the next one after that.  If anyone came to chat about last night’s game you politely but firmly informed them that you were just too busy – and got back to business.
  •  Throughout that day.  As you completed each of your gottas you found that your energy level rose, so that by halfway through the day you were really “buzzing” with a sense of accomplishment that drove your enthusiasm level ever higher, raising your mood and painting a smile on your face.  Your obviously energised and enthusiastic demeanor infected your colleagues – they started to ramp up the effort, to smile a little more, and became similarly enthusiastic.  The atmosphere in the office around you got a little extra spark, and this lifted you even further.

At the end of the day you had all of your gottas complete.  You were as high as if you’d been on high-octane caffeine – even if you hadn’t had a drop all day!  In fact, you felt so energised that, with your desk cleared of a lot of stuff that had been hanging around for a while, you were then actually looking forward to getting back to the very place that had created such a pressing need for a restful vacation, right?  You felt good.

Now that’s focus!

So what did you do differently that day?

So, what did you do that day to get so focused? Let’s have a look:

  • First, you created a vision(“by the time I leave tomorrow I’ll have cleared my desk and put my affairs in such good order that I can be spared for the next two weeks”).  When your vision gets knocked offline by events around you are like a $10 Billion guided missile without a target – you can fly around in circles looking pretty impressive, but eventually you’re going to run out of fuel and crash and burn. If your vision has been hammered by recent economic changes then get working on a new one – now!  Takes some time to figure out what you really want for yourself, your family and your business.  Get it clear in your head and paint a small part of this target in front of you every day.
  • Second, you formulated a set of goals that would deliver your vision for that day – your gottas (“I gotta call Deiric, I gotta…”).  Having a great vision is no good unless you formulate clear, achievable goals that ensure your vision comes to pass.  You must plot a course that will take you from where you are now to your target, with checkpoints that let you know when you go off course.
  •  Third, you made a commitment (“I absolutely must get these tasks complete by the time I leave the office tomorrow”).  This is the most common stumbling block that people tend to fall foul of, even if they are accustomed to planning by creating compelling visions and formulating achievable goals.  They fail to commit.  If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution that you failed to complete then you know what happens to plans without commitment.  If there’s no commitment then the fault is most likely with your vision – it simply isn’t compelling enough, otherwise the commitment would follow normally.  A real commitment immediately gets you off the ground and in search of your target.

So, before you spend one more day out of focus in your life stop and look at your life carefully.  Be sure your guidance mechanism has a clear target encoded into it, and that you’ve mapped a route to target that makes you want to take off right now!  First develop a long-term vision and then, every single day, sit down and plan what you’ll get achieved next day that will move you towards that vision.

Work on getting that day-before-vacation feeling everyday!

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