Picture this: You start the year with grand visions of everything you will do and how amazing it will be. You'll do great work, be a good person and you know, generally rock everything. Your business and spirit will thrive, and you'll become the most successful and most interesting person you know (naturally).
All good so far. You have visions of brilliant strategy, awe-inspiring creativity and a productivity level that has never been seen before. Ever.
And then the picture starts to blur. It fades a little, becomes dusty around the edges and instead of sharp vivid color, it turns into the dreaded nightmare for creative, strategic entrepreneur types -- grayness.
What happened? Life happened, business reality kicked in. Your to-do list piles up -- emails, phone calls, deadlines, meetings. Creativity dries up, strategy becomes a pipe dream. And gradually your "oh hell" meter begins to rise faster than the mercury on a summer day. Oh well, you say to yourself, it was a nice vision. Maybe next year.
Not so fast. Stay with me here because it is possible to get great work done -- to be creative, strategic and still be productive. You just need a roadmap -- some reminders to keep you on track and maybe a little belief that you can actually do it.
Try these ideas. Play with them. See what works for you.
1. Fuel your creativity. People fall into creativity categories. There are those that have creative stuff just oozing out of them, no effort required, there are some who can get their creative juices flowing with a little effort and focus and then there are people who think that creativity is not part of their DNA, so they don't even bother. But the reality is, we're all creative -- it's not reserved for the few. Everyday, you need to stoke the fire. Look for your creativity, and create a daily habit to let it out. It can show up anywhere: How you develop your business strategy, how you dress or cook a meal and even how you run a board meeting or get investor cash for your new venture. Start looking and you'll see it everywhere. Fan the flame. Make it important and non-negotiable.
2. Get clear on your strategic priorities. As much as we like to think we can, we can't do everything (I know, it bugs me too). We have to focus, and to do that, we need to be strategic. You've heard it before, but how many times do you actually follow through? What are the three to five major projects that you have to deliver for the next six to 12 months? We know we need to be strategic and focus on the long term, yet we don't have clarity of what that actually means. Get clear. Don't just think about it. Write it down, put it in your iCal or day planner, stick it on your vision board, tell your people. Declare it, and make it real. You'll free up significant energy and fuel your creativity just by doing this. And remember, start your day here. These are the things that matter. Do them first.
3. Get more efficient on your day-to-day. Let's get real. You need strong habits and rituals so you can spend your energy on your creativity and strategic stuff, not just managing your day-to-day. This isn't rocket science, but it can be hard to put into practice because let's face it, many of us aren't wired this way. So here's the deal. Don't check your email in bed before you get up (guilty). Do first things first. That means your three strategic priorities get a looked at before anything else and so does your creative habit that you are going to craft to make sure you have those juices flowing daily. Stop filling time and procrastinating, just start. Have goals so you are making progress. Analyze your workload and clear out the crap (you know what it is). Finally, protect your energy.
That vision of how you want your business and life to look -- your creative aspirations and strategic imperatives? All possible.
Make a plan. Make it matter. Go, make it happen.