Did you really mean to do that? Whatever the last thing you said or did, was that really what you intended? Or were you drawn by outside forces or influences to spend time on something you didn’t plan, didn’t care about, and didn’t intend?
This is an important question because the power of intention in your work and your life is immense. Where you direct your time and energy – whether it’s toward something you care about a great deal or only a little – determines what you accomplish and what you let slip. In turn, that directed productivity helps determine your level of success.
That’s why it’s important you use the power of your intention to work on the tasks, projects, and goals that will help take you where you really want to go.
Here’s how to proceed:
Think It Through
Just as the first step in solving a problem is recognizing and defining what’s going wrong, the first step in achieving your goals and building your success is defining what you would like to go right.
I’ve written about this many times before, including here and here. (You will also find the internet filled with all sorts of information on goal setting.) The basic idea, however, is simply to consider your inner feelings and drives, plus your external situation. From this analysis – whether you’re thinking short-term or long-term, alone or with others – you can and should decide exactly what you want to accomplish.
Your determinations about your desired future will then allow you to set your intentions.
Work First on What You Care About
This is where your intentions begin to matter. I’ve written many times, in many places, about what I call your “Basic Choice.” It boils down to ignoring distractions and less-important options in favor of tasks, projects, and goals that move you most effectively in the direction you want to go.
You make dozens, perhaps hundreds of these Basic Choices every day. The more often you make them in support of your most-desired objectives, generally speaking, the more productive and successful you will be.
Curate Your Schedule
It’s easier to make Basic Choices in advance, rather than in the heat of action. That’s why a well-arranged schedule is a big help in implementing your best intentions.
There are many schemes available for curating your schedule. From where I’m sitting, it almost doesn’t matter which one you use, as long as you give your intentions your highest priority.
The best way to do this is to block out time on your schedule first for your most important tasks, projects, and goals. Whether this involves five minutes at a time, an hour a day, one day a week, or some other pattern, prioritizing and then scheduling your best possible Basic Choices help guarantee you’ll make steady progress toward completing the tasks, projects, and goals you care most about.
What’s more, by scheduling intentionally you can arrange your time in tune with your capability cycles and patterns, so that you’re working on your most important tasks, projects, and goals during the moments you’re at a peak. For example, when you’re at your boldest are good times to do your strategic thinking. You can schedule your outreach and team-building for periods when you’re at your most persuasive. And when you’re mentally sharpest you’ll get the best results on details and agenda items that require you to be meticulous.
Consistently working toward what you intend to accomplish is critically important for a couple of reasons:
First, if you work consistently toward a task, project, or goal, you’ll automatically put in a good deal of time on it and you’ll therefore be more likely to eventually complete it.
Second, working consistently – on a regular schedule, on the same tasks, projects, and goals – tends to train your body and brain to work better, faster, and more effectively.
For example, when I become familiar with a workplace and go there on a fairly fixed schedule with certain tasks in mind, I find that I automatically concentrate more, remember details better, and work there more effectively than in any other space.
We all know the power of compound interest: $10,00 saved at 15% interest, compounded annually, yields $1500 in the first year, $5275 in the tenth year, and $21,350 in the twentieth year!
It’s the same with the time and energy you devote toward specific tasks, projects, and goals. The longer you continue to work toward them, the bigger and better results you are likely to achieve. The conclusion is obvious: the sooner you start, the sooner you will pile up the accomplishments to get where you intend to go.
The truth is out there: you can kick up your productivity and success toward your maximum (if you’re not already there) by establishing and honoring your intentions regarding what you do and when you do it.
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