I’m a big believer in creating a life you love while making the most of each moment. But I’ve found over the years that it’s sometimes hard for clients to stay in the moment and really get the most out of every day. It’s easy to lose time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. And it’s easy to lose day after day of productivity or miss out on precious time with the people you love when you don’t have a strategy for staying on track.
Distractions that affect productivity can be internal or external! We’ve all had those moments where we’re working on a project, getting into the swing of things, when that missed opportunity to land a new client pops into our head and we obsess over what we could’ve/should’ve done differently. Time lost. Or notifications keep popping up on our screen as we’re working and we’re detoured from the task at hand. More time lost. Or we haphazardly let our days “unfold” without giving a thought to what we really need to accomplish. These sorts of thoughts and patterns can happen without us even realizing and can lead to what I call zero days.
What is a zero day? It’s a day when you get absolutely nothing productive done. Zip. Nada. Not a sentence was typed for those emails that needed to go out. Not a single proposal was sent to bring in more business. At the end of the day, you realize you’ve spent your time distracted and scattered rather than doing the productive things that will make your business and your life pleasantly efficient.
Zero days contribute nothing but a buildup of things that still need to be done and unhealthy stress. The good news is, I have strategies for helping you live in the now and make the most of the time you have each day to eliminate those zero days!
I’ve coached my clients for years about the importance of setting daily goals to enhance productivity and keep their focus on the things that matter. And I’ve always encouraged clients to check things off their daily to-do lists so they can actually see how much they’ve accomplished each day. But I recently came across an interesting concept called Don’t-Break-The-Chain that takes “marking your success” to another level. This tool was reportedly cultivated by TV’s own Jerry Seinfeld. Though the premise of this concept was originally geared toward writers, it’s a great tool for anyone– especially business owners. Don’t-Break-the-Chain can help you stay focused and actively engaged for consistent progress and productivity. It involves setting daily goals and, once daily goals are reached, marking off the day on the calendar. As you mark off the days where goals were met you create a visible “chain of successes”. I realize it seems ridiculously simple, but it can be psychologically powerful.
You can set your goals to whatever you want them to be. So long as you accomplish your goals for the day, you get to mark off that day and have solid evidence of the progress you’re making right in front of you. And since I advocate balance between work and personal time, set personal goals like spending the day with your family or getting a household project done for the days you don’t work. That way you keep the chain going.
Zero days will fade away pretty quickly after you start crossing off those calendar days. You’ll be better able to stay focused on the things that truly matter and feel a sense of accomplishment with every X on the page. And seeing that unbroken chain of X’s on the page becomes the motivation to keep it going.
Building and maintaining momentum for productivity, living your life to the fullest, and being the best you can be are the goals here. Don’t-Break-the-Chain can help you achieve those goals. It creates a powerful visual that represents your daily success and allows you to clearly see and celebrate your accomplishments.
Try it. Print off a monthly calendar, hang it on the wall and start marking off those days. It might surprise you how effective this little trick is!