September is back to school month. Even if you haven’t been a student in many years, it’s virtually impossible to escape the new school supplies and back-to-school sales on every corner. Beyond the allure of a crisp notebook or brand new pens, September gives you the opportunity to set new goals and re-affirm your attention on existing goals.
As an outbound prospector, one of the best ways to harness this is through daily goal setting. There are two schools of thought about when to set your goals – either the night before or first thing in the morning.
Benefits of Daily Goal Setting
Setting your goals is more than making sure you get the three check marks on your to-do list every day. Clearly articulating your goals allows you to focus on what’s most important – not just what’s urgent.
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower (attributed)
Setting daily goals also helps you ensure that you make the best use of your most precious resource: time. If your goal is to make 30 mapping calls today, then it’s easier to turn off Facebook notifications or walk away from the coffee pot talk about last night’s game.
If you ever struggle with deciding what to work on next, having clear daily goals can help reduce decision-making fatigue. A review of your daily goals makes it clear what to work on next.
The Night Before…
Some people see the best way to close your work day is to plan for the next. You can set aside 5-15 minutes to review what you didn’t finish today that needs to be carried over to the next day, and set-up your to-do list for the next day.
You can start with a brain-dump of everything floating around in your brain, from follow-up emails to calling to make an eye appointment. Then select the three most important things – the things that are most likely to help you accomplish your biggest goals. Highlight these, or re-write them at the top of your to-do list.
With this method, you’ve closed this work day and set yourself up to tackle your goals first thing tomorrow.
The Morning Of…
The Morning Of method isn’t much different than The Night Before, except instead of making your to-do list before you leave work, you do it as the first thing to start your day.
Set aside 5-15 minutes when you get in, with a fresh cup of coffee in hand, of course. Write down all of the things you’d like to get done, and then highlight and prioritize the three that will get you the closest to your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
If you choose this method, be sure to set your priorities before you check your email or voicemails. Even though the messages waiting for you are sure to be urgent, and some may be important, there will be room to respond even after accomplishing your three big goals for the day.
Write It Down
You may be tempted just to go through this exercise in your head. It’s a good way to use your commute, right? Sorry – no way. This exercise works best when you write it down – either with good, old-fashioned pen and paper or digitally. If you choose to go the digital route, you can use a task management tool, your calendar, or even a spreadsheet.
For the hand-written route, you can also use our printable 3 Big Things worksheet.
Whichever method you select, make sure you refer back to it several times a day to ensure you’re working toward the three big things you need to accomplish today.
And while you’re at it – it doesn’t hurt to pick up a fresh pack of pens.