Recently I was digging through some boxes of old work stuff and discovered an old notebook that I used to write down my goals in my first business. (Technology is great but when it comes to goal setting, I’ve always been a pen and paper gal.)
Back then, I would set aside a few minutes at the start of each month to create a new goal sheet for the weeks ahead. As I flipped through the pages of that book, I realized why this practice was so effective in helping me grow my business; each month, it encouraged me to make a monthly contract with myself to stay focused on the most important tasks in my business.
And it reminded me that if I wanted to achieve my goals – the very goals, I wrote down in that book each month – I had to let a lot of the seemingly urgent day-to-day tasks go.
I wanted to share this story with you today because it can help you solve a problem that many creatives and entrepreneurs struggle with.
Nearly every day, I hear women say they just can’t find time to get to the growth-oriented tasks in their business because they’re stuck handling the daily to-dos. They tell me they put off opportunities because they think they need to answer all their emails first. They say "that would be so great for my business" but never get around to doing that thing because they have a pile of administrative tasks to tend to. They tell me they have amazing ideas but zero time to act on them.
But here’s the truth: if you really want to grow your business, you have to learn to focus on what's important instead of always tending to what feels urgent. The trick is learning how to tell the difference because those urgent tasks will feel really, well, urgent. Here’s how I’ve learned to tell which is which:
Important tasks are the ones that contribute to your long-term visions and goals. They’re the ones that will propel your business forward and include things like creating new content for your community, starting to write your book proposal or putting together that presentation you want to do.
Urgent tasks are the ones that feel like you need to do them ASAP but won’t actually put you on the fast track toward your long-term goals. They include things like cleaning out your email inbox or scrolling social media to stay engaged and in the know.
I’m confident that the reason I achieved big goals in my first business (things like getting published in O magazine, reaching my financial goals and landing two book deals) is because I had a goal setting practice that helped me focus on what’s important.
That’s why I continue to use this goal-setting approach in my coaching practice each month. It’s also why I’m inviting you to try this method for the month of May.
To get you started, I’d love to know: what’s one important goal you’d like to focus on in your business this month? And what seemingly urgent task do you need to stop doing to give yourself the time and space you need to make it happen?
Drop your thoughts in the comments below.
P.S. I know what you’re thinking: if you prioritize what’s important, when will you cross those urgent tasks off your to-do list? I talked about this very challenge in my free Facebook community, The Simplified Entrepreneur, this week. If you aren't yet a member, you can request an invitation to join and watch the replay here.