A while ago I read an article about architecture and one part of the process really stood out. In the design process, many times architects make physical models of the structures they’re creating.
The detail and fidelity of the structures vary greatly. Sometimes it’s a perfectly miniature scale model made of wood and other materials, sometimes it’s a rough representation made of cardboard, and sometimes it’s a 3-D printed model.
I’m guessing that having a variety of models of the building help architects with the balancing act of thinking about the big vision for the structure and the crucial details.
It’s all about optimizing your perspective.
In the same way, it’s important for us to optimize our perspective so that we don’t get stuck in the weeds or end up with tunnel vision, focused on one thing while letting other details slip our minds.
So how can you optimize your perspective? It’s all about laying out clear goals for the short term so you don’t become paralyzed by everything you have to do to reach big picture vision.
If you find that you easily get stuck in the details, then try these 3 strategies to keep your perspective optimized instead of getting trapped in overwhelm.
1. Identify what you need to do today
Each morning, I get out a post-it-note and write down the top 3 – 5 things I need to accomplish. It sounds silly, but I’ve learned that realistically I can only accomplish about 3 – 5 major activities in a day (outside of email, which is a conversation for another day). I put the note on the corner of my laptop so I am always reminded of what’s important. This helps me stay focused and not be distracted.
2. Set a monthly focus topic
At the beginning of each month, I take a morning or afternoon and think about what theme or topic I should focus on. In the past, some of my monthly focus topics have included, “Growth for UX Newsletter”, “Beta test a course topic”, “Business Operations” and “Content Strategy”. Some of them are clearly more exciting than others. But I find that these serve as almost anchors for me during the month. If I have a time when I feel a bit lost or unclear of what to focus on, I can refer to my monthly focus topic. Another benefit is that by focusing on one theme for a month, you create the critical momentum necessary to make real progress.
3. Create quarterly goals
I really hate yearly resolutions. Thinking a year in advance is just too much pressure. I find that working in quarterly sprints is much more effective because it gives you four chances to succeed, taking the pressure off a bit. At the beginning of each quarter, I write down quarterly goals. These are things I can tangible measure and hold myself accountable too. For example, in the first quarter of 2016, I wanted to plan, launch, and beta test some online courses. Having that goal in place was the accountability I needed to actually make it happen. Without setting quarterly goals, I find it’s very easy to get into exploration mode and dabble in a lot of different activities, which although might be creative and exciting, is not normally very profitable!
So to recap, it’s important to operate with different perspectives. In order to make sure you don’t get stuck in the weeds, you need to create a balance between the big picture and what you need to do in the short term to achieve your long term goals. By having the long term goals in place, it helps you clearly see what you should focus on each month and what specific tasks you need to achieve each day.
This strategy can obviously apply to both your personal or professional life. Whether you want to improve your fitness or launch the first version of your product, you can definitely stand to benefit from using this quarerly, monthly, daily approch to managining your perspective.
Do you have other techniques you use to help you stay focused and keep everything in perspective? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.