Awhile back I learned about Michael Hyatt from some friends. He’s a CEO turned life coach. His background is in the publishing industry, but something changed and now he podcasts, blogs, and coaches people on improving their lives. So far, I’ve really enjoyed his stuff. It’s encouraged me to rethink some basic assumptions about my life and, instead of focusing failures, focus on long-term, slow progress. Basically, focus on where you want to be and make incremental, consistent changes. I’d call this improving one’s character, which is often discussed, but rarely named in the current zeitgeist. In any case, I’ve really enjoyed his latest tool: the Full Focus Planner.
I’ve used a quarterly planner before and I didn’t find much success. I’m not entirely certain why I like this one so much, but I think it’s because I connect with the creator behind the tool. Now I don’t know Mr. Hyatt, but I appreciate what he’s about: encouraging and helping others succeed. There are literally days worth of content to watch and listen for free at his site and on the various podcast platforms. Something about the willingness to provide so much around the theme of goal accomplishment and personal development, at no cost, shows me a heart of service. I connect with that. In a way, using the planner is kind of like being mentored by him, which is cool and helps me stick with it.
I am not willing to show the inside of the book for copyright and respect reasons, but its website does provide a great overview and some details about what to expect. Two things I really appreciate are the idea of focus, simplicity, and consistency. There an infinite number of distractions out there, including blogging. It’s nice to limit that.
First, focus matters. Hyatt consistently emphasizes that success is found in identifying the important tasks and then limiting the distractions that interfere. For instance, instead of having 20 goals per year, have 2-3 per quarter and then focus on them. He also makes the distinction between habit goals and achievement goals, which is a pretty simple, but really helpful distinction. There are guiding documents for both. Then each day has a spot for your three big goals. This helps me limit the nonsense and stress that comes with failing to take out the trash or other minor task. It sounds silly, but for a lot of my life, I have carried failure of all types the same way. Identifying the important tasks and having a plan to address them really helps me limit that. It also gives me the opportunity give myself and others a break, or as it is called in the church-world: grace. Who doesn’t need more of that?
Second, the simplicity is important too. Life is busy. Work is demanding. Time is limited. So simple, long-term fixes are good. They make it easier to get the right things done and move life in a better direction. Because this planner is oriented towards focus, it is also slimmed down in complexity. Each day is broken down into a simplified schedule and notes, a big benefit over other quarterly planners I’ve used. By following the step-by-step procedures, a plan comes together and then little confidence builders can happen everyday. For instance, my quarterly goals are move, find a new a job, and get more consistent about going to Mass with my wife and kids. Since that last one is a once-per-week habit, I snuck in an additional habit goal of exercising 4 times per week. It’s ok, Hyatt said I could in one of his videos. Anyway, I can then work backwards and create a generalized daily plan around which I orient my daily big three. I can add other things in there too. The key is to focus on what is important.
Lastly, consistency is key. As a teacher and dad, I see what happens when consistency is not incorporated with kids. It’s a disaster. Kids swinging from the rafters and riots in the hallway come from that. Fires! Did I mention the fires? Someone started a fire in my room this year. Anyway. Good times. The point is this planner, like most planners, is all about consistency. By creating a focus and then simplifying life, it is easier to get consistent. Detours and train wrecks happen, on occasion, but they aren’t game changers when consistency is involved. I love that about this planner. It makes it easier to fight the dragon of disorder, to yell, “Be gone, foul beast, for I have things to do!” And on the days the dragon makes off with the gold, it’s easier to rebuild.
Since I started using it this quarter, I’ve seen how focusing on just 3 main tasks per day has lowered my stress and helped move me towards being a better Catholic, husband, and dad. I do other stuff too, but if I don’t get laundry folded today, it doesn’t stress me out. Focusing on the important stuff adds a lot freedom and joy to not just my life, but those around me too. I’ll be sure to write more on what success I see this quarter from using this planner.