1. Set Your Mind On Success. Envision what "successful" means to you. Create a vision board if you find that helpful. Picture yourself as your successful version of you. I believe in the power of positive thinking, in the idea that you can create your own reality if only you can envision it. Believe it or not, I sometimes sit in my car before a client meeting and envision myself listening well and making meaningful, thoughtful contributions.
2. Set a plan. Set a goal for the year, then break that down into smaller parts. What is your plan for the month? What do you need to accomplish to reach your success? What do you need to accomplish this week in order to stay on track? And then finally, what is your plan for today? Write these goals and plans down. Publicize them. Tell other people. Let others help you to stay accountable. My friends and coworkers think that I share a lot about myself, but doing so helps me to stay true to my goals. If others know what I am trying to accomplish then it motivates me to succeed!
3. Break large problems or projects into manageable pieces. This, I have learned, is a natural gift that I have and what makes me a good problem solver and puzzler, but it is something I believe that everyone can train themselves to do. In fact, I may have learned this in my younger years as a pianist because in order to learn large bodies of music you must break them down into smaller segments. Once you see a project as a sum of pieces, you do not need as much available time in one sitting to accomplish one part of the project and thus keep yourself moving forward to completion. I find that people who have not mastered this skill often procrastinate because they do not know where to start and do not feel they have enough time at the moment to complete the entire job.
5. Prioritize. It is not enough to just keep lists. You must look at them and prioritize. In my constant effort to stay balanced, I make an attempt to accomplish at least 1 home/personal task from my list each day and 1 connection with family or friends. When working on my client work, I prioritize based on deadlines and also on what will make the most impact to their businesses. Sometimes a task is not necessarily my highest priority personally, but it is something that needs to be accomplished so that others can keep moving forward in their jobs and so that type of task moves up in priority.
6. Do a priority task FIRST. It is easy (and in fact quite pleasant) to start your day reading a bit, sifting through email, doing some mundane tasks, only to find that you have just blown through an unproductive hour. On my most successful days, I take the bull by the horn and force myself to start with my highest priority job. And then continue at it, if at all possible barring the inevitable interruptions, until it is done. On a personal note, I have been getting up and exercising early in the morning so that it is done. My daughter who is in her 3rd year of medical school tells me she is starting her day with getting through a certain number of board review questions before she heads to the hospital so that she is sure to get them done. Completing important, high priority tasks first builds a momentum that will continue to propel you forward through your day.