We’ve all been there before. We get a brilliant idea for a new product or service and start thinking about the grand vision that comes with it. Maybe there is competition, and maybe there isn’t. Either way, you’re siked up and can taste what it will feel like once you have it all launched and people are praising you.
Or, maybe you simply want to make it through your work-week and are dreaming of the weekend and the cool parties or relaxing you’ll do (i.e. not working). You’re already feeling how refreshed you’re going to feel after waking up at 10 am without an alarm clock and slowly making your way to the coffee machine.
Both situations are both good and bad (or not good nor bad, depending on how you want to look at it). The good is that we are creating a vision for what we actually want in life, something most people don’t take time to do. The bad is that we are getting caught up completely in what will come in the future and not focusing on what you can be doing now to get yourself there.
It’s a tricky feeling, huh? It’s a balancing act of what we have to do to build a vision, but still stay in the present enough to stay actionable and moving in the right direction.
If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been in this situation and want to become a productive machine, yet be focused and calm as a zen master, then read on.
Let’s dig into three simple things that will get your head straight and that vision off the ground…
Step 1: Map out your vision as BIG as you can
What we want to accomplish in this first step is to get everything out of your head and recorded on paper or some digital document (like I am using Google Docs now to write this post). Most of us have ideas, thoughts, visions, but we just keep them in our heads. What good is that for us and the world? Let’s change all of that and start brain dumping!
This doesn’t have to be pretty or even organized. The idea is to just get to writing (or even dictating it to Siri on your iPhone). We’ll come back later and clean things up by putting them order, adding to it, subtracting from it, and so on.
The main things to get in writing here are the following:
- What is your vision/goal with the project/what do you want to accomplish? Be SUPER clear with this since it is your driving motivator.
- How long do you think it will take you?
- What are the things (technology, items, people, places) that you’ll need to accomplish this?
- And anything else you feel that is important that pops up in your mind.
Once you feel like you have literally opened your brain and poured everything on paper, then you’re good! Make sure to keep a device like your phone handy, just in case you get an idea and want to quickly record it as a note to yourself. More ideas always come, it’s just making sure you keep record of them.
Step 2: Break it all into actionable tasks
Here is where we will start cleaning everything up. We’re going to take the notes you made in Step 1 and put some priorities to them. I sometimes like working backwards when figuring out how to create actionable items.
As an example, when my partner and I were initially coming up with our plan to start our premium printed marketing newsletter, The Evergreen Profits Letter, we started with the big picture and worked backwards…
- We first decided on the overall goal that we would be creating value around, which is helping small business owners systemize their marketing operations so they can half their working time and double their income.
- Then we planned out what each month’s theme of the Letter would be for the entire year (it’s a monthly publication).
- After, we mapped out the handful of articles/topics and guests we’d have in each month’s Letter.
- Then we outlined the technical systems/website stuff needed to be done to create the best experience for readers.
- Next, we got very specific with our timelines for publication (when we need to finish our articles and send to the printers).
- Lastly, we each put our heads down and started cranking out content so hit our deadlines!
This is just one example of how to start mapping out the actionable items that are needed to start moving your vision forward. Don’t worry about getting this perfect or if it feels like it’s a lot, we’ll be addressing that in the next step! After you get all of this outlined, you’ll want to put things in sequential order and possibly use a really cool (and free) tool like Asana. It is my personal favorite online software that puts your important tasks lists in one location for you.
Step 3: Trim the fat & get moving!
- You’ve gotten this far and it’s MUCH further than most people ever do with their ideas. Give yourself a pat on the back! Have a margarita and burrito to celebrate 🙂
In this final step, we’ll be analyzing your list from Step 2 and reprioritizing/deleting things that aren’t absolutely necessary to creating progress (which is your MAIN goal with this exercise). We’ll be focusing on the 80/20 rule (AKA the Pareto principle).
In short, the Pareto principle states that 80% of results are generated from 20% of your specific efforts, tasks, and actions.
If we think about this really hard and see how it applies to everything in life, it’ll probably change the way that you spend time in your day (and specifically making your vision a reality). With this 80/20 rule in mind, you’ll now want to take a look at your tasks and see what you can remove, push out to the future, delegate to someone else for cheap, or just get done really quick yourself.
This is all about focusing on the essential handful (literally 2-3) of steps that will allow you to get moving! The goal is to simplify this big vision into mini, actionable items that you can do in about 30 minute (or less) chunks. This will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment and drive to keep pushing towards the next steps.
Last Step: Let’s get started!
Once everything is simplified and you know what you will do to get the project started, then all is good, right?! Well, not always. This is when our brains kick in and still start tricking us into thinking about how our small actionable tasks are also big and daunting (because we have never accomplished them yet).
To get over that, let’s play a trick on our brains…
Spend about 5 minutes (or less) and just brain dump your thoughts on the first task at hand. Get it all out of your mind. Don’t be perfect, just get the flow started (kind of like what you did in Step 1). When you’ve done this, stop and walk away. Do something else, go exercise, sleep, or whatever. The idea here is that you got the ball moving – yay!
If you are pumped and are on a roll, then don’t stop! But if you are a procrastinator (myself included sometimes), then make sure to get at least a few minutes of brain dumping in – you’ll thank yourself later.
When you are ready to come back to the project, then start with what you think is the most essential item/piece of it all and keep building from there. You’ll start getting in a flow and things will come easily. It’s all about getting that first bit started and playing some mind games on yourself.
You’ll be a machine in no time working towards your big vision, but doing so in bite-sized chunks. If you make this a daily ritual, then in a few weeks when you look back at what you accomplished, I guarantee you’ll be amazed and how have a new habit formed.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.