Observations at the halfway point.
In 2010, I wrote an entry entitled, "How I work, Part I." I described my work day in detail from 4:30 am on, identified my most valuable asset as "time," and discussed how I manage it. I wrote about how I organize, sort and prioritize my projects. I also discussed my dedication to working at peak efficiency by hiring trusted managers, and delegating assignments to them. While I left that blog post promising to devote my next "Work" to "Creative Thinking During Drive Time," I want to first address a more central lynchpin of "How I Work," and with your permission, return to "drive time creativity" in the future.
Focus and Re-focus.
From the very start, focus has been a critical ingredient for me. In this article, I am taking the "focus" discussion to the next level. In general, the word "focus" connotes extraordinary levels of attention, effort, concentration, single-mindedness and motivation. "Focus" is the center of business, for me and for most successful entrepreneurs. It's critical, and yet there is one level higher.
Once the foundations of my business were focused and set in motion, the key for me became to "re-focus," every single day. That's right. Every day, based on what happened the day before, I ask myself, "What can I do today to move the plan forward, and how can I learn from the mistakes that I made yesterday?"
General Mills: Timing and planning are everything.
Forgive the pun, but I view my role as being similar to that of an Army General. Every entity within my command is filed in a notebook I carry with me all the time. It contains my privately held missions for my companies and for myself, and has one tabbed section for MCC, one for MRR, one for a "Top Secret Project", and one personal section.
For each entity, the first page reads: "What is the mission?" and "What is the plan?" These simple questions force me to re-focus every day on what MCC and the other entities will do that day, that week, or that month to complete tasks that will lead us to achieving our mission.
Numbers talk. Count on it.
Once I have a plan in mind for each entity, I include a set of metrics on the next pages, as I believe firmly that "That which is measured, improves. That which is measured and tracked improves exponentially." I have developed a series of metrics that resemble pilots' gauges, and I watch them carefully to determine whether we are on track to achieve our mission in each entity.
Pushing the envelope.
Finally, I end each entity's page with a question to myself, "What can I do today to move the plan forward?" This is a very powerful question as it removes excuses and procrastination from the workday. It allows me to be proactive with my time and ensure that I am staying both focused and re-focused.
A final word on entities.
The most important entity file I have is for myself and my family. The mission statement includes a picture of health and happiness. Without first achieving this, nothing else matters.
How it works in real life.
I "re-focus" every morning at 4:30 am. After re-focusing for about an hour I exercise for about a half hour. By 6:00 am I am prepared for the day, full of confidence and stress-free. To some it may appear to be a grueling schedule, but it works for me, and I have no plans to change it anytime soon.