Take a step back to propel yourself forward

Looking back over the past few months, I was churning away, spending hours working on tasks related to The BA Guide and everything seemed to be okay.  While I wasn’t making much progress on my to do items, like creating new content, I was busy answering student questions, updating and reformatting old lectures, sending informational emails, writing blog posts, adjusting the website, and the like.  

In the middle of the month I remembered some advice I had received years ago, “When things are busy, but limited tangible progress is being made towards your end goal, you should take a step back and assess why.”  Some may say this sounds counter-intuitive to stop the engine when things are rolling, but this advice has saved me on numerous occasions, including this one.

Heeding that advice, I scheduled a family vacation and disappeared for a week.  During that time I purposely spent no time working on my business tasks, but instead I utilized this break to  reevaluate what was important for the business and then understand where I was spending my time.  After my brainstorm, my number one priority is to focus the majority of my effort doing things that have a direct, positive impact for my students.  Things like creating new online courses, recording additional content to current courses, high student engagement, etc.  When I matched this renewed vision with where I had been spending my time over the past few months, I was shocked.  Only 15% of my time was being spent doing the things I had deemed the most important.

Identifying what needs to change is the first step, but the second step, which generally proves to be a bit harder, is executing on those changes.  You can’t simply add those additional tasks to what you are doing and expect to get everything done.  Let me tell you right now, it won’t happen.  Instead, you need to identify and remove time wasters which keep you busy, but have little to no impact in moving you towards your vision.  

For me, that meant simplifying my email format (so they take less time), asking students for their feedback on wants and needs (to ensure my content, such as blog posts, are meaningful to you), and removing the complicated business reporting I was trying to do on a monthly basis.  With taking out or reducing the time spent on these items, I now have a renewed focus on what is actually important and have the freed up time to dedicate to move the needle forward.

So how can you apply this to your situation?  If your days are filled with stuff, but you aren’t making much progress on your end goal, taking a step back and assessing the situation may be the answer.  Understand there may be a temporary slow down in your progress, but with identifying only a few adjustments to where you place your effort, you can accelerate towards your end goals and vision at a much faster pace.

Written by Jeremy Aschenbrenner, The BA Guide

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