Trying to stay focused and on task, with your eyes on the prize, can prove brutally difficult when you’ve got no one to rely on but me, myself and I. Working by yourself in your home office, there’s no supervisor breathing down your neck, no co-workers providing that sense of social accountability. When you’ve got a business of your own, you’re the one who has to put in the work.
This also means that you can get incredibly overwhelmed with all the balls you’ve got to keep in the air. Juggling all these responsibilities can feel impossible at times, to the point where you might be tempted to just let them fall. Don’t. Instead, train that laser focus by zeroing in on just one big “win” each day.
Staying Organized with To-Do Lists
Let’s start here. I think at this point, we all recognize that the human mind is incredibly unreliable. Never tell yourself that you’ll “remember that,” because you probably won’t. If it’s important, if it’s something you need to do, then write it down. Suitably organized to-do lists are an absolute must.
Notice that I said your to-do lists need to be suitably organized. They shouldn’t be just a laundry list or rat’s nest of things to do for the sake of having something to do. Organize them in a way that makes sense to you and, more importantly, ensure that everything on your to-do list is actually in service of a bigger goal.
If it’s not something that contributes to a larger objective, you may want to rethink why you’re spending time on it at all.
Getting Overwhelmed With To-Do Lists
Here’s the thing with to-do lists. Well, one of the things with to-do lists. They can get very long, very quickly, especially when you work by yourself, for yourself, and everything falls on your shoulders. There are strategies to build better to-do lists, since they still need to exist if you want to stay organized and get everything done. But they can also be way too much.
Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with a bottomless list filled with all the minutiae of your everyday work. If you’re anything like me, you’ll never get through all the items on your list every day. It’s just humanly impossible unless you really set far too few items for you to do. And even then, if you’re like me, you’ll just add more items to your list as the day progresses.
But, staring down at yet another incomplete to-do list at the end of the day can feel awfully deflating. You need a morale boost so you don’t go to bed depressed. You need a little pick-me-up that’ll motivate you to get up the next morning. You need a big win.
Zero In on One Big Win
And the way that you do that is, at the beginning of the week, decide on your own top priority for each work day. Just one. Not 15. Not even 5. One. Just one.
It’s true. You won’t complete everything on your to-do list. And that’s okay. However, you can say to yourself with confidence that, if you accomplish that one big goal, that overarching priority, that one item in bold sitting right at the top of your list, then you’ve achieved your own big win for the day.
On some level, it’s a strategic thing. You’ve got limited resources and it makes no sense to be nothing more than a hamster on a wheel. You want to get somewhere, and to do that, you need to focus your time, energy and attention on what’ll actually move you forward. On perhaps a more important level, it’s totally a psychological thing. When you feel good at the end of your work day, you’re more inclined to put in the work the next day too.
Move the Needle
And really, the biggest thing that’ll get you to move the needle in your career is this sense of persistence and purpose. So many would-be entrepreneurs and bloggers give up early because they run out of motivation. Don’t be like them. Be dedicated, zero in on what really matters, and do good work. You can win this game.