Visualize, Conquer, Repeat: Your Complete Guide + 2 Free Infographics
Your brain works better with a limited scope — it’s a matter of fact.
Scientists proved multitasking is a terrible choice. Yet, people still boast about their ability to jump between tasks. But xall they are doing is shallow work.
Doing one task at a time can save you days of work. But without the proper structures, you will tend towards multitasking. So, you will spend weeks trying to reach goals that should take days. Weeks will extend to months. And months will become soon enough (which we all know means never).
To avoid this trap, you need a strategy. You need a template. And here, I have 5 perfect templates you can use to achieve any goal.
The Multitasking Mirage
Since I started writing, I have always searched for new ways to achieve my goals.
I wanted the best template to improve my craft. And I used to get angry when I couldn’t reach my objectives. I thought I was doing too little, and that caused me pain.
I felt incapable of doing what seemed easy for others. And my frustration made me quit writing multiple times. But eventually, I found my mistake.
I was better than others. But I focused on too many things. And my brain couldn’t keep up with the stress.
You can’t improve your skills if you push yourself too much. You must give yourself the space to fail, process, and retry. Therefore, work with a limited scope. Otherwise, you will try to succeed in too many things and stall in all of them.
Here are five perfect templates I used to achieve any goal. But first, let me explain why split attention doesn’t work.
The Attention Residual Problem
Multitasking is a beautiful concept. But it is flawed.
Have you ever tried doing too many things contemporary?
When different tasks give you consequent feedback, your brain explodes. It is challenging to keep track of the results. And you must write things down before you forget what you were doing.
It often happens to me at work when I focus on an activity, and people come to ask me other things. Sometimes, I feel bad not answering them. So I do, and they ruin my productivity. And then, switching back to what I was doing becomes impossible.
Feels familiar? Then, you are experiencing the residual attention problem.
It’s simple. When you switch from one task to another, your brain still thinks about the previous one for a while. And on average, this overlapping happens for 23 minutes. In this case, the residual attention is the information your brain stores somewhere to find it once you get back.
Why should you focus on one task?
When you multitask, you split your attention and create as many residuals as your tasks. So, switching between two jobs, you might even succeed. But if there are more, it becomes impossible to keep track of everything. Your performance decreases. And your stress rises.
But if you focus on one task, the problem disappears. Your performance will improve. And you will better cope with stress.
So, these 5 perfect templates can teach you to use focused attention and achieve any goal.
5 Perfect Templates to Achieve Any Goal
Some of you already know three of the 5 perfect templates to achieve any goal because I discussed them in The Challenge, my newsletter. There, I was talking about the difference between hope and action. And I gave you a few ways to start working on your dreams.
(Small promo: I created two infographics to track your goals with these 5 templates. If you want to get them, subscribe to The Challenge.)
Therefore, I will explain those ideas better here and add two exclusive templates.
1 — Focus on a common goal.
Milestones is one of the 5 perfect templates to achieve any goal. It might be the simplest, and it has many benefits. So most people don’t use it because of its simplicity.
Working with milestones means splitting your final goal into smaller steps. And each of them represents consistent and meaningful progress.
But what does this mean?
Let’s pick writing a book, for example. If you think about the goal overall, it might scare you. Writing a book is a challenging goal. But you can split it into chapters, for example.
Now, writing a chapter will be a shorter task. And after each chapter, you could:
- Celebrate your achievement,
- Reward yourself with a little bit of relaxation,
- And reignite your motivation to proceed.
Therefore, writing a book will become easier because each milestone will boost the next step. Your motivation will rise, and your anxiety decrease.
2 — Use the strength of waterfalls.
I have worked as a software developer for four years and always used two main strategies: waterfall and agile (next paragraph). They are well-known paradigms for planning and scheduling. But they have different strengths and weaknesses.
Waterfalls are similar to milestones because you will get the same benefits. But you will divide your activities differently.
Instead of working for a common subgoal, with waterfall, you group your tasks by deadline. And you could apply this technique to single or multiple projects. Just follow these simple steps:
- List of all your tasks and their deadlines.
- Group together tasks with close deadlines into waves. Closeness might be one or two months, depending on your job. But avoid prolonged periods since they will make you lose track of your progress.
- Start working on the first wave. You have as much time as the length of each wave. But usually, you will have to use the last quarter of the time for refining, testing, and feedback.
- You can start with the following wave if you finish before the limit. Otherwise, move some of the tasks to the next wave.
3 — Enjoy the speed of small tasks.
The agile template gives you more control over your tasks. But it reduces the period between deadlines, and you will stress faster.
Also, with waterfall, you can work on more complicated tasks. But with agile, you must break your tasks into small pieces that take a day or two maximum.
The main advantage of agile templates is their easy management. If anything changes in the meantime, it won’t affect much of your work. You can skip a few tasks or make adjustments.
But if you create a good plan, you may ignore deadlines. You will deliver and forget the project as soon as you finish it.
4 — Split your work into stories.
You can also use stories as one of the five templates to achieve any goal in your life.
Stories focus on a common topic and build a sequence of tasks to achieve it. For example, writing an article could include:
- Brainstorm ideas and pick one that suits your content strategy.
- Outline the selected topic.
- Search for data that supports or contradicts your thesis.
- Write the first draft.
- Write the second/final draft.
- Edit and proofread.
- Schedule and publish the article.
As you can see, every task in the story aims at a common goal: writing an article. But splitting it into micro tasks gives you more flexibility in your planning.
Also, you can use this template in combination with agile and waterfall. Consider each small task separately and schedule it according to your main template. But since you are making stories, you will use them to track each larger goal.
5 — Build your treasure map.
Three years ago, I started writing online. However, I ignored all the best practices to organize my work. I created a folder named Articles and started writing inside it.
But as soon as my folder grew, my plan collapsed.
When I had to search for old information or links, I had to open multiple files and search for them. I missed a place to write my ideas, so I lost most of them. And my productivity decreased due to the shallow work.
One day, I couldn’t deal with it anymore, so I downloaded Notion. I saw many people using it for different purposes, and its versatility fascinated me.
It took me one year to organize the system that I use today. I am changing it often, adding and removing properties to my pages. But as soon as I need information from my past work, I know where to find it.
I call this template the Treasure Map because you can use it to collect the resources you need to achieve your goal. In there, you can put:
- people you must contact in specific situations
- tools you will need in different moments of your activities
- information about past work that might help you (links, for example)
- environment requirements to reach peak performance
- and everything that might become useful in the future.
Multitasking kills your productivity. But if you find a way to serialize all tasks and schedule them, you will notice great results.
Here, you have 5 perfect templates to serialize your activities and achieve any goal you want.
- Milestones are the perfect choice if you don’t cherish your goals enough.
- Waterfall and agile are two distinct templates that have different strengths. So choose based on your style.
- You can use stories to split your tasks and schedule them even better.
- While you can always build a treasure map to keep track of everything you learn.
Just pick one of these 5 perfect templates, and you will achieve any goal you want.
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