Today’s post is based on a really simple sporting analogy – how much time are you spending on each side of the ball? Are you attacking more, coming up with plays and driving yourself in the direction of your goals? Or are you defensive, struggling to get any control, having to be reactive and defending your goals rather than pursuing them? From my experience of working with others, unfortunately, the vast majority of people seem to be on the wrong side of the ball. The tips in this article will hopefully help you change this.
Whilst this distinction may seem a little forced or arbitrary I promise you that it is vital to think of if you are striving for success in any aspect of your life. Ultimately you will not reach those goals unless you get on the offensive. If you are unsure of where you may stand then consider whether you spend more time on your plans or acting out someone else’s? Do you make a plan for the day and stick to it or do you turn on the laptop and react to whatever is there? Do you make progress towards your goals each week or are they on the back burner for when you have more time?
Hopefully you now know which side of the ball you are on and why it is important to get on the offensive. So how do we do this? The following tips are my starting points for taking back control and starting to run some attacking plays:
1. ID your goals. The first step in moving forwards is to know the destination you want to reach. To start this process you need to plan on a macro and a micro level. At the start of each year, quarter, month, week and day sit down and write out the 3-5 achievements that will make that time period successful for you. This may seem like overkill but it has a powerful effect on orientating you towards your goals. You are now accountable to yourself, your goals are no longer an idea in the back of your mind they are real and on paper, so you better do something about them.
2. Manage your comms. Staying on the offensive is about being proactive. Being at the beck and call of those around you makes you reactive and pulls you straight back into being on the defence. To prevent this you need to take control of your communication channels. The easiest way to do this is to batch check your email, don’t leave it open in the background, responding to emails as they come in. Do the same with your phone, disable all notifications and only check at set time periods. Disasters are rare and they’ll often resolve themselves without your input, leaving you to focus on your progress, uninterrupted.
3. Aim for effective not efficient. Efficiency is being productive on anything. Effectiveness is doing the tasks that add value. If you try to do everything on your lists you will quickly run into a brick wall and end up in reactivity again. If you instead prioritise tasks in terms of what adds the most value you will stay on the attack and make the most forward progress. Do this using an 80/20 analysis. What is the 20% of things that you could do that will get you 80% of the way towards what you want? Identify these then do them.
4. Give yourself space. To be an effective attacker you need creativity. However if you have your foot to the floor all the time you will quickly run out of the energy required for that and end up in a big defensive hole. So program in time regularly throughout your days and weeks. Allow yourself some unproductive time and you will quickly find that this turns into the most productive time. There is a lag time between our conscious and unconscious mind and if we don’t schedule time for a catch up the disconnect will end up draining our cognitive resources. If you program in this space you will soon find the creative ideas you need to keep on the front foot start pouring in.
5. Meditate. This is closely linked to the point about space. Training your mind to be calm and present is one of the biggest antidotes to defensiveness as it moves you out of a reactive frame of mind. You’ll develop perspective over your thoughts and gain the ability to consider actions before automatically playing them out. You will also learn focus, keeping you on task and resistant to distractions. Start small and build up, try the Headspace 10 day program and you’ll quickly be convinced.
I hope the above has been useful for you and you are now considering how you can be more proactive and more attacking with your days. As ever do let me know your thoughts and experiences. I’d love to hear them.
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