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Do you suspect that something is slowing down your big goal achievements? If so, why might that be? A hidden reason might be that you’re spending too much time stuck on the mundane stuff. Yet that mundane stuff needs to get done!
To avoid having your “mundane” or “maintenance” activities keep you from achieving your big goals, make a plan for them before the beginning of the next month. Think in terms of annual, bi-annual, or tri-annual events, obligations, actions, or deadlines.
- Are there specific hard deadlines (stiff consequences for missing the deadline)?
- Are there soft deadlines (with little consequence for missing a deadline)?
- How do these dates affect what I do or don’t do?
- What should I keep as is or adjust, either this month or later?
- Am I already behind on responding to these issues?
By making a plan, you won’t risk being distracted with those little mundane tasks that are slowing down your big goal achievements.
Plan to tackle whatever mundane tasks are dragging you down so you can focus on the goals that will move you forward. Consider the three categories below, which vary by how much control you have over them: the world outside of you, yourself and your family, and seasonal.
Related to the world outside of me: Very Limited Control
You have little or no control over many “worldly” issues. For example, Christmas is always in December. Income tax is always due in April. Elections are always held in November. Holidays, days your office or bank is closed, etc., are all pre-determined, and are probably all hard deadlines.
However, you have a lot of control over how you plan for them and use your time to your advantage.
What must you do for these “worldly” issues? Perhaps:
- buying a card or a gift, or attending a celebration
- retrieving related records
- completing certain applications ahead of time, e.g., getting an absentee ballot
- closing or re-opening your office, or giving your team time off.
The key here is to take charge of these rather uncontrollable events so they aren’t slowing down your big goal achievements. If you can do “bulk” actions well in advance of the upcoming month, better yet! For example, at the beginning of the year, I buy a pile of greeting cards, and book a bunch of routine appointments with the dentist, the ophthalmologist, and others. (If I find that time doesn’t work later, it’s almost always easier to reschedule an appointment than to start from scratch.)
All of this is a little like creating a killer evening routine so you can set yourself up for a productive day. That is, whether it’s a month or a day, the key is to set yourself up before it happens.
Specific to me and my family: Somewhat Limited Control
You will have little or no control over some issues which, though they aren’t shared by the rest of the world, are still dictated by something in the world that is external to yourself.
- My niece’s birthday is always in January. Her birthday is a hard deadline in the sense that that’s the only day she was born. I need to buy her a card in advance of that date. But if I miss the date for sending it — well, it’s never too late for belated wishes.
- My RN nursing license renewal always arrives in November. If I haven’t yet completed my continuing education requirement, I need to get going on it before I submit my renewal application and fee.
- My car inspection is always due in December. It takes no preparation, but if the car doesn’t pass inspection, I’ll have a second task to deal with. It’s better to get the inspection earlier rather than later in the month.
- My office lease expires in December, so I may need to start re-negotiating in November.
- My property tax is due at the end of the month in January, June, and September.
- An insurance audit report is always due in June.
Seasonal Control: Fairly Good Control
Seasonal activities are likely to be more personal or avocational. And here’s the thing: more than the largely “required” tasks, it’s easy to put off these semi-optional personal or avocational tasks that pile up and may bring up some consequences. And you know what I’m going to say, right? You get mired in some task that will soon be slowing down your big goal achievements.
You may wish to…
- replenish your ice melt in January or February. (Yes, I grew up in snow country!)
- get the plumbing and heating guy to check your furnace in October.
- start planting your garden in _____ (depends on where you live).
- schedule or show up for various health-related appointments: physician, ophthalmologist, dental hygiene, etc.
- plan a budget for leisure travel.
For these and similar issues, you have complete or nearly complete control of your preparation for what’s on the docket for the following month or quarter.
How to get a handle on these tasks
To give yourself a little springboard, you may want to glance through your life “domains.” In general, it comes down to:
- Personal, relational, avocational
- Intellectual, emotional, spiritual
The question, then, is what do you need to do this month? I don’t mean the “regular” monthly tasks; I mean the tasks that are specific to that month.
Here are some examples to help you think of what sorts of tasks you might need to accomplish in a given month. Do any of these belong on your next monthly planning page?
- Approve completion of a milestone on a big project.
- Attend a professional event.
- Cancel an annual subscription.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of a major campaign.
- Initiate a major campaign.
- Meet with a high leverage prospect or client.
- Meet deadline to finish writing Chapter 4.
- Notify someone of a major upcoming change.
- Perform an inventory.
- Plan a major project.
- Prepare for an out-of-town trip.
- Present a speech, a pitch, etc.
- Recruit a new team member.
- Renew your lease, your professional license, etc.
- Review a major report before it is sent.
- Schedule your next quarter vacation.
- Submit a request for…
- Work around a disruptive event.
- Attend a wedding in a distant state.
- Celebrate your sister’s golden anniversary.
- Comply with getting your car inspected.
- Compile papers for your income tax.
- Connect with your ……(whoever).
- Declutter your house/office (spring cleaning).
- Renew your …..
- Reserve your plane ticket, hotel room etc.
- Schedule your annual eye exam.
- Shop for a new appliance.
- Show up for your root canal appointment.
- Write a few thank you cards.
- Review your past quarter profit and loss statement.
- Deposit your dividend check.
- Submit your reimbursement request.
- Pay your property tax.
- Update your will, designated power of attorney, or healthcare proxy
- Compile your 1099s.
- Read an important book.
- Learn how to use new software.
- Study for a certification exam.
- Register for a course.
- Retreat to your lake house.
- Sign up for a yoga class.
This is by no means an exhaustive list! But it will give you some ideas of what you need to tackle in the month ahead. If you remember to put these tasks on your monthly calendar, you’ll be better prepared to do your weekly planning.
Making all these mundane tasks visible by putting them on your monthly calendar can help you keep your focus on the big picture. Let me know in the comments: How are you keeping your maintenance tasks from slowing down your big goal achievements?
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