The first part of the pyramid is about making more time in your day. If you’ve identified the different ways your time goes to waste and found ways to bypass that waste as a means of making more time for you to focus and be productive, then give yourself a pat on the back. It’s not easy.
The second part of the pyramid is about defining your long-term goals. If you’ve clearly defined your long term goal, then congratulations. The hardest part is behind you!
The final third of the pyramid is about progress. You’ve found ways to make more time and you’ve given your future some serious thought. You know what you’d love to do and you’re ready to set out to accomplish it. Now it’s time to push forward and make progress.
Where to Start: The Pillars of Progress
You’re in a very exciting place right now. You’re fresh and motivated. You’re ready to start making a difference. But you might also be a bit intimidated and unsure of where to start, which is completely natural. I’ve come up with 3 items that I like to call the pillars of progress that will help you jump right in and continue to stay focused and motivated. Each of these are equally important as another.
Without a solid organizational system, it’s going to be very difficult to manage your goals along with the rest of your life. An organizational system will allow you to balance and have a running status of all aspects of your life — your goals, your job, and other miscellaneous obligations.
I wrote an in-depth post about organizational systems. If you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely check it out. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- Have a cataloged set of project folders that contain actionable items. This helps you keep track of and manage the bigger chunks.
- Have an inbox in which you constantly do a brain-dump. Triage project-related inbox items into respective projects. This helps you parse through the everyday “noise” and prevent things (big and small) from slipping through the cracks.
- Make good use of your calendar and commit to what you schedule.
- If something takes 2 minutes or less, do it now.
The beauty of an organizational system is that you have a mechanism to capture everything that pops into your mind. As a result, you worry less about forgetting something important because it’s already accounted for. Another great thing about having an organizational system is that it allows you to track and measure your progress. Checking things off of a list feels good. This feeling of accomplishment will play a key role in your motivation.
The second pillar of progress is staying committed. Consistency is absolutely key here. This means that you must set aside time every single day to focus on the goal that you’ve made for yourself. I repeat, you must set aside time every single day. It’s important that you get into a routine or else it becomes far too easy to make excuses to not show up.
If you’re wondering where you can find the time to do this, check out my previous post on making more time.
For most people, this is not more than a couple of hours. For me personally, this is an hour or two every day, then 3-6 hours on both Saturdays and Sundays. Some days will allow more time and others less, but the more time you can spend, the better. Try to accumulate 12 hours of committed time in a given week. Even in small increments, this will add up to an impressive number.
Something that helps me stay committed to showing up every day is my calendar schedule. My alert goes off every morning a couple of hours before I need to be at work. This is my time. Likewise, if I foresee an empty block of time in my day that affords me several hours of dedicated work time, I block it off in my calendar.
When you schedule an item in your calendar, you’re putting an extra layer of pressure on your future self. And when that alert goes off, you know that it’s a healthy reminder from your past self that you need focus on what you committed to dedicating that time to. Don’t let yourself down!
3. Making good use of time
Even if your organizational system is pristine and you show up everyday, you’re still potentially hindering your progress if you’re not making good use of your time.
When you show up everyday, what is the first thing you do? If the first thing you’re doing is trying to determine where to start, your progress is already suboptimal.
A good writer doesn’t sit down to a blank page without any idea of what they want to write. Instead, they’re going to draw from all of the random times throughout the day where a brilliant idea pops into their head. They’ll capture those ideas. They’ll find inspiration when they least inspect it and when the time comes to show up and make progress, they’ll have those ideas in their back pocket. A lot of writers maintain a list of topics and keep them on hand as actionable material.
Have a good idea of what you’re going to work towards accomplishing prior to showing up.
In the previous post, we made an exhaustive list of things we need to do in order to help ourselves accomplish our goal. This list should be rich with things you can work on every day. And since they pertain to your long-term goal, you know they’re beneficial. Revisit this list often. It’s a work in progress, not a one time exercise. Add to it, change it, and cross things off of the list when you complete them.
Every single day isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Some will feel very successful and others will feel like a wash. But keep in mind that every day you show up is progress, even if you’ve accomplished one small task. Have you ever heard the saying “small shavings make a pile”? That applies here. Be proud of every single thing you accomplish and even if it feels minuscule or inadequate, rejoice in the fact that you’ve accomplished far more that day than the average person cruising on auto-pilot through their life.
Also keep in mind that this isn’t something you do once. It’s something you should constantly revisit. Always re-evaluate how you’re spending your time every day. Identify the weaknesses and correct them. Re-evaluate your goals. Add to them and revise them as necessary. Track your progress and find ways to make better use of your time. This is an iterative process that will always have the potential to become more efficient.
I hope that the Make More Pyramid has made you think. It’s a system that I have found to be very affective. Time, goals, and progress are the 3 things that I leverage every single day as a way to work towards accomplishing my ultimate goals. It’s not always fun and glamorous, but at the end of the day, I’m proud, excited and motivated. It’s changed my life, and it can change yours too.