Last week I spoke to two groups of managers in Seattle, Washington about the topic: “Optimize Your Time and Focus to Get Momentum.”

My intention was to demonstrate how important it is to think differently and plan out the different “sizes” of projects to start and changes to make. When I coach leaders to achieve success while working in alignment with their purpose, we use a tool called “So that…”

Recently, a client texted:

“I am using the ‘So that’ process every day to be more productive at work.”

What are the “So thats…” that drive you to do your best work for the individuals, groups and organizations you serve? You know… as author and TED Speaker Simon Sinek asks, “WHY? do you do what you do?”

Do you have important things to get done? Do you want to be more productive and reduce your stress at work? Think differently, and you will get more done.

What’s the purpose of you working as hard as you do, worrying about problems that need to be solved, and raising your opinion – and your voice – about what’s happening around you?

Get Started Here

Sure, you are working on many projects, but right now choose one meaningful project. It could be personal, or something at work to get done. Open your Momentum Journal, and write 3-5 “So thats.”

Here’s an example: I am working on my 5th book this year.

“I am writing another book so that:

  1. recently promoted managers have a field guide to achieve success in their first 100 days;
  2. our past and current clients have new material to offer to their staff through the book, website, workshops and coaching programs;
  3. we have new articles to publish in magazines;
  4. we have new material to share for free via social media and podcasts;
  5. I think differently about my coaching practice.”

Different Kinds of Thinking

Continue thinking of three different “sizes” about the project. Do this to be more productive, reduce your stress and work in alignment with your purpose. Whether you chose a personal or professional project, you can go up and down the scale of thinking.

Large Thinking: The WHO. Describe the community and specific reasons they will benefit when you are finished.

When I wrote my third book, Your Best Just Got Better, I had a wall of pictures I had taken from magazine covers and printed from websites. They were all the people I had wanted to send a copy of my book to for their endorsement. Some people I knew, some people I had not met yet, and the common denominator was simple: EVERY person was in a position to ask hundreds or even thousands of other people to read my book.

Medium Thinking: The WHAT. What is a “rough draft” picture of the deliverable? Describe in detail what it will look, sound and feel like when the client or community uses it.

When we launched v3 of the Get Momentum Leadership Academy, I had (on the same wall in my office, of course!) printed out 13 different “Requests” from current members. Throughout the rebuilt of the website and revision of the materials, we constantly referred back to that information asking ourselves, “What do our members want from us?”

Small Thinking: The HOW. Open your calendar and choose (this week) a 75-minute block of time to talk about, plan and work on that project. Create the desk/office space you need to have a successful practice session.

Getting Things Done isn’t just about managing time anymore. Back in the early 2000’s, I was a GTD facilitator and coach; I helped people organize their office, empty their inbox and make lists of things they had not done yet. What do I know after having facilitated more than 500 days of those seminars in 6 years?

Time is not the ONLY factor that limits your ability to get things done. You need to add in three other elements:

  • Environment
  • Ability to focus
  • Energy Available

Where Are You?

If you need to work without distraction, you might need to move somewhere for a day (or an hour…or a week!). If you want to Get Momentum on the project, create the environment you need to get it done. Find a conference room you can sit in at lunch. Sit in your car for 15 minutes in the morning. Invite someone to meet you for coffee to talk about your project and brainstorm how it will help people you want to serve.

What’s Distracting You?

Notice, I did not say “Who?” I said “What?”. That is, if you go to that place you CAN focus, you do not want anything left on your mind that will distract you while you are there. Want a tip? Take this one that you can read about in David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done:

“…you will want to collect anything else that may be residing in your psychic ram.”

How do I do it? Before I start any work session (writing, planning, thinking, even facilitating a workshop!), I make a hand-written list of at least 30 things that are on my mind. When I do this, it lets a part of my mind relax so I can go to work. Later on, I will come back to and look at that list to see what I need to do.

How Much Energy is Left?

Ok, so are you a morning person? An evening person? Do you get energy by being around people? Alternatively, when you work alone? There are two ways of looking at this third prompt:

1) How can you boost your energy on the front side of a work session; or

2) How much energy do you have, and what are you good for?

Look, I am a morning person. I know it, my wife knows it, my friends know it, and I have even trained my clients so that they know it! If anyone around me wants the BEST and most I have to give, they know to plan something in the morning. However, this does not mean I cannot work later in the afternoon, or into the evening.

If I am going to work at my non-prime times, then I will have my tricks and tools handy that help me stay engaged when I need it most.

You are not going to find a one-size-fits-all when it comes to being as productive as possible. Start by identifying your “So thats…” and continue by making sure you are thinking at all the levels you need. Use this “So that…” process to think – and work – productively and purposefully.

How can we fix what’s going on in #Charlottesville? We have to think differently. Here’s how…