Interval Planning: Keeping Laser Focus

posted in: planning, podcast | 1

Leverage the interval training technique in your personal life by setting up your calendar in intervals and planning goals accordingly. Planning and executing in short-term bursts is a great way to keep laser focus and high energy. By always keeping short deadlines and tackling manageable chunks, you can avoid overwhelm and procrastination.

Make the Interval Plan

The components of an interval plan are highly individual; always assess and tweak as you go to make it fit your own needs.

The way I do it is to pick

  • 1 habit to practice daily during my interval
  • 2-3 projects to complete (or pieces of larger projects)
  • 5 small tasks that would help me out to get done, but that I would otherwise procrastinate

As you make your plan, look at your calendar and the season and be realistic. It’s really easy to leave out projects you’re committed to because you aren’t counting them as projects. Don’t “assume” projects – they all have to be on the plan. Even kids’ birthdays have to be accounted for (or anything that requires gift buying), at least on the tasks list if not the project list.

If it must happen this interval, then it must be on your list.

Populating the interval plan

After you figure out what types of things go on your interval plan, it’s time to plan for an actual interval.

How will you keep track? With an index card? Notebook? Planner? Evernote?

Then write out that plan.


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SO004 | Interval Planning: Keep laser focus


Reviewing the interval plan

keep focus on your goals

It turns out that lists don’t do much good if you don’t look at them.

So at the beginning of each week, you have to look at your interval plan and determine what your goals are for the week. How can you move forward on that plan to bring it to completion? That is your weekly plan: The steps you will take to work toward finishing your interval goals.

Then every morning you need to look at your interval plan and your weekly plan to keep those goals fresh in your mind. Your mind works on things subconsciously, so just rereading it daily (or at the beginning and ending of each day) will help you as you move forward. Then make your daily plan based on what has to be done that day as well as what steps you will take to complete tasks on your weekly plan.

Remember to cross things off all three lists as you go!

Review is Key
It turns out that lists don't do much good if you don't look at them.Click To Tweet

How to Maintain Focus

These five practices will keep your focus sharp and your mind on the goals you’ve set:

  1. Don’t skip the review step. You have to look at the lists for them to do you any good.

  2. Remember to rest daily (adequate sleep), weekly (a day off work and the productivity mindset – a real vacation day), and between intervals.

  3. Practice ubiquitous capture.

  4. Limit your inputs & the decisions you need to make. Routine helps eliminate decision fatigue. Also, the interval plan limits your attention to those areas and projects only. You can’t tackle everything at once, and knowing what you’re working on now helps you avoid feeling scattered and panicked.

  5. Include your motivation in the plan for daily review. Why are you working on these goals? If you also remind yourself daily why you’re doing what you’re doing, your energy and focus will remain clear and sharp.

What tips do you have for maintaining focus on your goals as you work toward them?

One Response

  1. Meghan Armstrong
    | Reply

    I am absolutely loving this series!

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