Tuesday, January 2, 2007

New Year's Evolution: Getting Focused

There’s a lot of interest right now in a concept called the Law of Attraction—a principle that states what you focus on, you get.

Many of us are in our spas today, our first work day of the New Year, vowing to do things differently in 2007. Making resolutions, or goals, is part of the process of focusing on what you want. But as we all know too well, that’s the easy part.

Everyone uses different tools to help them get focused. Spa operations, in their lovable, chaotic way, have a unique way of de-focusing us on those long term, big ticket goals. By now (it’s noon on Tuesday, January 2) you may well have been thrown headlong into something called “the tyranny of the immediate.” An emergency, a crisis, an operational hair ball that requires untangling.

Stuff happens.

Here are some simple techniques I’ve learned for keeping my important goals in focus:

Morning Routine:

Start your day by reviewing your big goals. You’re fresh and energized at the beginning of the day. This is the perfect time to focus on those high-value goals, like launching a new sales training program for your estheticians. Make time for this every day. This is an “important but not urgent” activity that is crucial to success.

Avoid the trap of starting your day with e mail! This is one I learned from Verne Harnish, the great business expert and author. When you start your day with e mail, everyone else’s priorities become yours—you start in a reactive, not proactive state. Schedule time for your e mail and leave it alone in between. It will eat your day and leave you little to show for it.

Create a fresh, reprioritized new “to do” list every day.
This is one of the best ways to focus your attention. There is no perfect formula for a daily list format—it’s whatever works for you. Over the years, my daily list has turned into an Excel spreadsheet, where I have my “projects” listed along with the next three action items for each. This works better for me than a linear list, because it keeps my to-do items in categories and my deliverables in manageable numbers. I update it every day at the computer and print a fresh copy. During the day, I scribble messages and notes on it—Post It notes get attached, too. Everything I need to do ends up there, and only there. That’s key. Then…

Evening Routine:

1. Transfer “to do” items from your list to your calendar by day’s end.
Nothing is more demoralizing and de-energizing than a list of things to do that’s as long as your arm and keeps growing. Assign dates and times to as many of your to-do items as you can. It will give you a much more real sense of how to get things done—and what you can’t do. (You might start saying “no” to activities that are not high-return!) Your goal should be to keep your list as short as possible.

2. Give yourself credit for your daily accomplishments. No, the action items never end, but that’s no reason to focus only on what you haven’t done. Make sure that part of your end-of-the-day ritual is focusing on what you did accomplish that day. Write it down.

Focus is the most common trait of very successful people, regardless of their industry. So now when stuff happens—massage therapists call in sick, shipments get delayed and equipment breaks—you’ll still have spent “quality time” with your key goals every day. And that, day by day, becomes your New Year Evolution.

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