Master Your Goals: The Pursuit of Clarity
Episode #9 of the course Master your time: The secret to being insanely productive by John Robin
Welcome to the second to the last day of our course!
We’ve covered so much. By now, I hope that you’re not only practicing how to hit your stride batching and blocking your focused time but also that you’re learning to delegate your reminders and stay spontaneous the whole while.
As we move toward a fuller picture of how to handle the three different modes of work (focused, actionable, freeflow), we arrive at the next important question:
How do you know that you’re spending your 20% focused time on the best things possible?
The Pursuit of Clarity
I’m a writer. This means I spend 20% of each week advancing this career. I spend about 15 hours on actual writing, while the remainder is spent on analytical reading and research.
You could call this my recipe. But if you looked at how I worked two years ago, you’d see a very different picture: I spent most of my week editing manuscripts because this is what made me the most money. The whole time, I tried to squeeze in writing wherever I could.
Over the last two years, my paradigm has evolved because of one thing: the pursuit of clarity.
Asking why I’m doing what I’m doing has helped me improve how I spend 20% of my most important time every week. In order for my focus to evolve to what it is now required two years of learning how to build and manage a business so instead of editing all the time, I became a director of a team. Now, not only am I spending more time writing, but I’m also running a company that’s helping other writers do the same.
Master Your Goals
The pursuit of clarity will help you hone how you spend your 20% every week. You can make the most of this by being a master of your goals.
• Know what you want to do.
• Know why you want to do it.
• Ask exactly what work you have to accomplish to achieve it.
• Plan exactly what work you need to do this week to advance that work, and batch it accordingly.
This should boil down to one chief aim that you can write on a piece of paper. I have “WRITER” written in marker on a large piece of paper and pinned to a corkboard, which I look at several times a day.
Let’s say that you want to be an editor.
Your work, then, is going to involve editing the manuscripts on your pile. It will also involve some time on professional development, such as studying texts or courses related to editing, writing, and publishing or other training work. You would then break down your 25-minute focus periods into batches that revolve around the projects/study you are tackling.
If you have a lull in work, spend the free focused work time on professional development. Authors will be more drawn to an editor who is spending their time honing their skills than one who is frantic for work.
Not to mention, you will feel more empowered when work comes, since not only have you been sharpening your skill, you’ve also trained your focus to get 33.75 hours done every week, and when that next job comes in, you’ll nail it. And better yet, you’ll do such a good job that you’ll probably get repeat business, good testimonials, and referrals. That’s exactly how my business grew so big that I needed a team to deal with the volume!
This is true with any business where you are crafting a product or offering a service: The more time you devote to making that product/service excellent, the more that product/service will sell itself. The proof is in the pudding, not the packaging.
What does it mean to devote time to making a product/service excellent?
That’s the perfect question to be asking and one that should help you gain more and more clarity each week you advance your career. My advice would be to work on the balance between actual crafting/performing and improving how you craft/perform. Consult professionals in your own industry/field to learn from their strategies.
There is no perfect formula for how you should do the work that will get you the best results. You have to learn as you go, but you’ll learn quickly if you pursue clarity and be masterful about how you set goals. Ideally, aim for a good balance between actual crafting/performing your product/service and improving how you craft/perform.
Your homework is to write down, in one word, exactly what your one chief aim is, e.g., artist, pianist, writer, editor, web designer, scholar, etc.
Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up our course by talking about using visual cues to turn planning into masterful planning.
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