Welcome to Action Taker Tribe. I am your host Jo Ingram, and today we are going to talk about how to take some action to actually get tasks completed.
How many times have you heard yourself, or others, wishing you could build your business to £100K, or sell out your program? Fill your calendar with one-to-ones or get a thousand followers on Instagram? Whatever the goals are for you, do they feel like a mountain that you're trying to climb? Does it feel like something unachievable that, whenever you think about it, you wonder, ‘how on earth can I get from where I am here, to actually reaching a position where I can say I've done it?’. I want it, I can visualise it, and yet I don't seem to be getting any closer. I seem to be spinning my wheels, going round in circles, and every week that passes where I fail to get closer to that goal leaves me feeling more and more despondent. Do you ever even wonder whether being an entrepreneur is for you?
Whether you wonder if you can hit your goals, if you can really achieve the success, the income, the impact that you dreamed you would when you first started your business, I hear you. I felt exactly the same way. When I launched my business last year, I had no understanding about how I was going to climb my personal mountain. When I look back from the position I'm in today and think, ‘how on earth did I get here?’ - and don't get me wrong, my goodness, my mountain is a whole lot bigger - even at the base camp I’m at now I'm starting to think to myself, wow, you did that. You achieved that. I look back and think, what exactly did you do to allow yourself to move forward and build the business in this way? How can I keep doing that, so that I keep moving forward, leveling up and my business grows too?
I know that it's not something unique to me. I know that we all feel this way and we all need strategies and tactics so that we can consistently move forward.
What we're really overcoming here is this problem with overwhelm. That mountain to climb can feel incredibly overwhelming and this can lead to procrastination.
We just don't know what steps to take or decisions to make, until we find ourselves almost at a standstill. As I said, another week passes, distractions come up and it's easier sometimes to focus on something simple than it is to do the hard work to climb the mountain. So often we do the social media scrolling, or we just dip into something that feels fun, which is awesome - but then we're not doing that tricky thing. You know that book by Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog? Do the difficult thing first, get it done. Feel great about yourself because it's usually those difficult things, those ugly frogs, that are the big needle-moving pieces that really up-level you, your skills, and your business. Sometimes we know exactly what we need to do. We've done the strategic work, we've had our CEO day - and I hope that you're doing that! - where we sit down and work on our business, not just in our business. We identify what the needle-moving activities are and what we want to do – and yet we don't actually do it. We feel that those mountains are just too overwhelming. We know the strategy, but we're not taking the action. When we are not implementing, not taking that action, it is partly because we're not getting intentional. We are not being very firm with ourselves and our time and insisting that we have to do those things before we do other things.
It's about taking things one bite at a time. You know the saying, how would you eat an elephant - one bite at a time, right? I always found that quite a bizarre phrase. I've got used to it now, I guess I say it quite frequently, but the image of actually eating an elephant isn't that delightful. Nonetheless, the point is made. I think I prefer the one where Buddha talks about taking the first step of a thousand miles, which I find really poetic and beautiful, but the meaning is the same. You have to take the first step and it doesn't have to be hard. What you need is a technique for taking that first step and to do that you simply have to identify what the next step is, so you can make it manageable by breaking it into bite-sized chunks.
That is what I want to talk to you more about today - a method called chunking. Chunking is essentially a process where you break down a large goal or project into many different bite-sized tasks. By doing that...
It's no longer the intimidating mountain that you need to climb; you're simply focused on taking the very next step.
When you chunk your projects, what you need to do is write down all the tasks you can think of that are necessary to complete it. Don't censor yourself, literally write down every single ‘to do’ that pops into your mind. I love doing this. I love getting things on paper, actually having it tangibly in front of me so I can see it. Remember, you can always add more tasks as you go if you come up with them later, but for now just focus on what comes up in this moment. Include everything that you can think of that needs to take place in order for you to get from here to there; from not having done the task or the project to absolutely completing it.
There’s a cute little technique that you may have heard of before to help you concentrate on doing that, so you actually get that job done with focus. This is the Pomodoro technique, named after those cute tomato-shaped kitchen timers on which you turn the dial and they're like a little alarm clock. Of course you can use any alarm clock you like. I personally use Alexa and just ask her to tell me when a certain amount of time has elapsed. You just need to pick an amount of time. The Pomodoro technique is typically 20 minutes per task. You may not even need that long. I would go for something like five minutes and then sit there with a piece of paper and a pen and concentrate only on writing a list of all the things that have to happen in order for you to complete that task.
This will enable you to feel really confident that you've given it all the focus that you can in that short amount of time and, when the alarm goes off, you have your list. Just remember it doesn't have to be in any particular order. At this point, it's just everything that pops into your mind - everything you can think of that you need to do in order to nail that goal. Then you've got a task list - let's call it your five-minute task list. Just really brainstorm all the tasks you can think of to achieve your goal. No filter. There's no such thing as a bad idea, just get everything down.
When you have created this five-minute task list we can think about prioritisation. This is easier to do once you have got the full list of things in front of you. Have a look down the list, because not all tasks are created equal. Some things are going to be more urgent because they have to be done first, purely for a sequential purpose, or other things have more impact on the outcome; they have to take place because they are so valuable. They are really, really needle-moving. Whereas others, if they never happened, would it really be the downfall of the entire project? Go through and start thinking about prioritising them. What you are looking for are these needle-moving tasks.
Now, as you go down your five-minute task list, circle three to five tasks which are top priority. These are the ones that will result in the biggest step forward, or the ones that must happen before anything else. Pick the ones that will make the most difference. You may have heard of the 80/20 rule, which basically says that 20% of your actions will have 80% of the effect. That works in reverse too of course, meaning we spend 80% of our time doing things that only have 20% impact. Identifying which of those tasks fall into each of those categories is where you're going to make the biggest difference for your business. This task about prioritisation is where are you going to identify which of the tasks are the top 20%, usually around three to five tasks. If you have got a very long list you might have a few more – of those...
Decide which ones are needle-moving and are really, really going to level up this project and your business.
You have now done the first bit of chunking, where you have created your five-minute task list. You have also done the second piece, which is about prioritisation and finding the needle-moving tasks. The third thing you need to do is to sequence for success. This is where you decide what to do first, second and third. Circle anything you recognise immediately as a priority - ask yourself if it is urgent, so must be done upfront, or if it is important, and truly needle-moving. One task could indeed be both. Now look again at the tasks that you've circled, the ones that you identified as priority, and put numbers against them. What has to happen first? Number them one, two, three, and so on, with those that you need to do first because they are most urgent or important, as your first priorities. They are literally what you need to start working on now or next.
Can you see what we're doing here? We're literally creating an action plan for you to follow. We’re breaking that mountain down. Instead of looking up at the summit and thinking, ‘how on earth am I going to get there?’, you're just looking at the next path and saying it doesn’t matter about the rest -
I just know what I have to do now, and I know that's leading me in the right direction.
I am going to put one foot in front of the other and keep doing the tasks that I have identified, because I've done this exercise on the first tasks I'm going to do. I have confidence in doing them because I know that they are urgent and important, and I know that they ladder into the bigger project because I have a whole list of all the tasks that need to take place.
Next up, give yourself a deadline. When will you do those tasks by? It's great that you've chunked your project into bite bite-sized chunks which aren’t overwhelming, and you're going to take one task and one step but plot out a deadline for those first tasks that you've identified. This is where people often fall down, particularly in building businesses - we get to a point where we know we need to do something, but we're a little bit too gracious with ourselves when it comes to actually giving a firm deadline and getting it done. Therefore, this exercise absolutely has to be completed with you committing to yourself when you are going to do those by. You may have accountability partners - and I've done a whole episode on that, which you can check out here if you want to know more – but...
Make sure that you are holding yourself accountable, and are achieving these tasks for yourself, and of course for your business.
The last question before we wrap up, is on what could possibly derail you and how could you overcome it? It’s great now you've got a bit of a map that you can follow, so you know what you need to be doing next, but so often we fail to achieve our goals and get our tasks done because of an underlying reason. For example, if you really wanted to grow your Facebook group, but it wasn't growing, and you were saying to yourself that you were finding it all a bit overwhelming – feeling like you can't do all the things - but the truth is, that you needed to go live. And the real truth was that you didn't want to go live, because you had a bit of a fear about visibility and the whole thing just made you feel anxious. It's really easy to get busy doing other things and say things like, I just didn't have the time to go live, or I didn't have the right lighting, whatever it might be, but you haven't really looked at the real reason that you're being derailed in achieving your goal here, which is obviously a mindset problem around visibility. It could be anything, but I'd encourage you just at this last point, to ask yourself what could derail me and how could I overcome it? What could I do to make sure that I am not going to fall into the same patterns that I have in the past and ensure that I am actually going to achieve this task by the deadline?
Let’s just recap – chunking is making sure that you complete and finish your projects. First of all, make your five-minute task list of all the things you can think of, getting them down in one place. Secondly, prioritise. Start circling things that you know are either urgent or important. Thirdly, now it's time to make sure that you're actually sequencing what you're going to do. Firstly, put numbers beside those things that you have circled, to make sure that you know to do them first. Next up, set a deadline, making sure that you can stick to it by overcoming anything that might derail you.
I hope that this episode really does give you an action-filled week in which you are able to get on with things that perhaps have sat on your to-do list for way too long, and that you can move your business forward as a result. If there's anybody else that could benefit from this episode, please do share it with them, and do subscribe and leave me a review. Have an awesome, action-filled week. Take care. Bye now.