Today, we’re diving into how to focus your time on what matters most to create value and maximize your impact. We’re covering how to create sustainable habits, choose your actions wisely, and live with a stewardship principle. This will level up your life so you can go as far as possible today, and a little farther tomorrow.
Harness the Power of Habits
Harnessing the power of habits is a great way to find success by realizing your goals and creating the life you’re dreaming of. Developing and solidifying good habits helps you make the right choices for yourself more automatically. Habits are essential to staying on track. When things get difficult, habits can free up your brain capacity so you can make better decisions when you’re in more challenging situations.
We won’t spend a ton of time on the topic of habits since we did a deep dive into setting goals and tracking habits a couple weeks ago (click here if you missed it!), but we do want to quickly speak to the importance of making your habits sustainable.
Especially at the beginning of a new year, many of us tend to set sky high goals and attempt to create habits that will reach those goals quickly. If your goal (which you hopefully made SMART using our worksheet!) is to lose 15 pounds and you’re living a sedentary lifestyle, you better believe that running for two hours every day and eating a perfectly balanced diet will get you on the right track quickly! However, the more important and often overlooked question is whether those habits are sustainable. For most, the answer is no. Unrealistic habits will most likely lead to a best case scenario of burnout and a worst case scenario of serious injury.
Instead, making incremental changes that are manageable and realistic are much more likely to be sustainable long term. Sticking with this example, more sustainable habits might be shooting for 15 minutes of activity per day and adding more lean protein and vegetables to your diet. Once you’re nailing those habits, you can slowly add to them until you hit your goal.
Ready to start? Our Interactive Habit Tracker is just what you need! If you’re more of a pencil and paper kind of person, we have a couple of printable habit tracker options as well (found here and here).
Become a Multiplier of Time
So many of us rely on to do lists, whether it’s jotted down or in a note on your phone, but how often do we get everything done? For us, it’s pretty rare. When we finally admitted there just isn’t enough time in the day, we realized we had to do something differently. The game changer was when we started to ask ourselves what we shouldn’t be doing with that time.
That might sound backwards but what that will help you do is identify high-leverage activities. These are the tasks that you, and only you, can do and that will have the greatest impact. It’s human nature to seek the “win” of checking off a box on a to-do list. But that also leads to a certain level of blindness when it comes to the truly important tasks that might not necessarily be the most urgent.
Let’s dive into three ways to deal with those pesky tasks you move to your “not to do” list so you can focus on those activities that will lead to the highest impact in your life.
Do, Delegate, Delete, & Draft
Once you’re ready to accept that you can’t do it all, it’s time to learn the four D’s. We’ve included this printable worksheet to sort tasks into four categories: Do, Delete, Delegate, and Draft.
What are the things that only you can do and lead to the most impact? There are certain actions such as investing time in relationships, that only you can do. When it comes to your career, there may be tasks you’re specially trained for or require your special touch to be done successfully. Finally, some tasks may just be particularly enjoyable to you and you know the leverage or value they create is worth it. Keep doing those things!
Delegation is absolutely crucial to focusing your effort on those high leverage activities and maximizing your impact. Specifically, you are reassigning tasks you’d normally complete yourself to someone else. Great opportunities for delegation are simple tasks such as adding events to a calendar, repetitive tasks such as running reports, and time-consuming tasks that you can train someone else to do. Delegate tasks that don’t have to be done by you and can be transferred to someone who can complete them successfully!
This can be a tough one for a lot of people, us included! Sometimes, there are tasks we feel we must complete that simply aren’t creating enough value. The easiest way to identify what to delete is to consider actions that are actually causing a negative impact. Do you spend too much time scrolling on your phone? Even if it feels harmless, if your goal is to free up time for high impact activities, mindless scrolling is negatively impacting that.
Drafting a task is the process of finding someone else doing the same thing and do it alongside them. One great example of this if you’re a parent is carpooling with other parents. Within your career, it might be sharing a responsibility so that one person isn’t on the hook for the whole thing, saving both of you time and energy.
Live a Life of Stewardship
One of our favorite pieces of scripture, and actually the inspiration behind the whole idea of maximizing impact, is the “Parable of Talents” from Matthew 25:14-23. In the parable, a master entrusts three of his servants with varying amounts of money while he is away. Two of the servants put their money to work and are rewarded for increasing the value, while the third buried his out of fear and was reprimanded.
While the parable uses the example of money, scripture is clear: we are expected to use all of our God-given resources (relationships, finances, time, skills, etc.) for good by investing, growing, and maximizing. It is our responsibility to practice stewardship in all aspects of our lives. When we demonstrate our ability to steward our resources, we will be rewarded!
How Far Do You Want to Go?
You may have heard the saying, “it’s not about how quickly you get there, it’s about how far you choose to go.” You get one life to make an impact, so how do you make the most of that opportunity? The modern American mentality is to work your butt off for retirement as quickly as possible, and then do nothing.
We’re not here to tell you not to retire or enjoy the fruits of your labor. We are here to challenge the idea of focusing on a race to the finish line and instead start thinking now about how much you can maximize your impact along the way. By creating sustainable habits, choosing your actions, and living a life of stewardship, your potential is endless.
In short, go as far as you can today and prepare to go even farther tomorrow!