Where do you start when you don’t know where to start?
When you’re looking at your to-do list and feeling like you have too much to do and not enough time, and everything feels equally important and urgent, it’s easy to get sucked into overwhelm.
How do you get out?
Start Where You Are
As I shared in a previous article, the first place to start is by stopping. Sit in silence for a while and breathe.
Next, ask a better question.
What, exactly, does this mean? And what’s the question to ask?
Common Questions to Catalyze Action
Here are some common approaches to productivity and their related questions:
- The Eat the Frog Method: What’s the hardest thing on your list?
- The Ease Into It Method: What’s the easiest thing on your list?
- The Eisenhower Matrix: What’s most important and most time sensitive?
- The Pareto Principle: What’s one thing that will yield the greatest results?
- The Getting Things Done Method: What’s the next action?
- The Goal-Oriented Approach: What is your goal?
These questions might get you to take action, but they all require you to refer to your list.
As I shared previously, your list is part of the problem. Often, the thing that will actually yield the greatest results is not even on your list.
The Best Question to Get Unstuck
The best question I’ve found is one that I learned from Tony Robbins. This question has become a foundation of my personal planning process and in my work with my clients.
Whether I’m planning a market strategy, a new project, engaging in a negotiation, or making a major life decision, I start with this question.
What is the RESULT that you want?
This is not about what do you want to do? or what do you want to create? or even what is your goal?
What result do you want to create in your life? What is your desired outcome?
Whenever I get lost and find myself feeling like I’m standing in the middle of the traffic circle with no clue which way to go, I return to this question.
The Power of a Question
Other questions might interrupt the looping thought patterns, but this question breaks open the entire structure. It helps you approach your life from a different mindset.
Focusing on the ultimate result or outcome often allows me to throw out more than half of my to-do list. It reframes everything. It creates space for more creativity and for better answers to emerge.
It saves time, energy, money, and wasted effort.
You Don’t Need the Whole Picture
You don’t need to paint a picture of your entire life vision. Just start with one result. One outcome.
Get clear on one at a time.
Clarity gives you confidence. When you get clear on the result you want, you elevate above the swirl of to-dos. This helps you focus on the most important actions that will yield the biggest gains toward the actual results that you want.
Caveat: Results are not Goals
One caveat here: I often see people answer this question by stating a goal. For example:
The result I want is to close 30 deals this year.
This is a goal, not an outcome. A goal may be a path you can take to the outcome you want, but it’s not the outcome itself.
I guarantee that whatever your goal, it is in service to a larger outcome. You attach a belief about what it will mean, what it will give you, where it will get you.
And whatever those end-results are, there are many ways to get there.
Don’t get so locked in your goal tunnel that you miss the exit for your outcome.
Start With the End in Mind
When you don’t know where to start, start with the end in mind.Ask what result do I want?
This is the first step to creating a more effective plan for your life.
Whether you’re swirling in to-dos or you feel like you’re on track, this is a perfect time to pause and review your vision for your life and how you plan to get there.
As you take stock of where you are and where you’re headed, start here:
What is the result that I want?