There have been a whole lot of distractions lately! I’ve had a tough time getting back to what’s important in the new year.

And this picture is so incredibly appropriate to me and the topic! I couldn’t resist. OK, Carl, get back on track.

I have a “short list” of weekly topics sitting in front of me, and that really helps. It has a handful of tasks that I need to pay attention to. And I found it important that this is on an actual sheet of paper on my desk, not hidden in a window that I’ll probably cover up.

I also try to take some time every Monday morning to get my mind oriented around the week. That seems to help the process of figuring out what’s most important.

I don’t have to worry about the urgent so much, especially things with deadlines. Those things are constantly yelling at me anyway, and I know how to deliver to a deadline I’ve committed.

The problem is those important-but-not-urgent things, as we all know. Sometimes you can create an artificial urgency by setting a deadline or making a promise to someone. That’s one reason why working with a coach is helpful, because it creates an accountability for the IMPORTANT things.

In other contexts, it can help to break things down into a project plan of some sort. Often the important things seem so large that it’s hard to even get moving. I use that often with clients, with the philosophy of just get started.

Another very useful tool is to create some success metrics. For important items, that can be both hard to nail down and scary to commit to. But if it’s important to replace one of your vendors – perhaps very scary – you need to get started. So a simple metric can be to do research on five different vendors, measuring the quality of information you get and rating key aspects of the decision. When you near the point of taking the leap, it will be a lot less scary.

And you will have gotten there a lot faster.

These are all very basic tools, things we’ve used during our lives and careers in various forms. So focus. Get started. Get moving.