Mike San Román's homepage

Flexibility and self awareness are your best tools for doing your most important work

January 21, 2020

Either you run the day, or the day runs you.
– Jim Rohn.

Today, I started the day with three goals. This is how I usually try to start any given day: one goal for myself, one goal for Otter, and another one for Buffer. If I wrap up the day with the three of them completed, I know it's been a good day. Progress has been made, and progress done consistently leads to great results! I bet you know that feeling.

Except that's not always that way. Something happens. You are distracted from your goals, either by something external, like an emergency, a change of priorities, a teammate asking for help... or by something internal. Maybe you are at unease about something that happened at home, or you are tired and can't focus, or you are just bored. It can be because you are doing something cool after work and you can't wait until the time comes!

Distractions come in many ways, shapes, and forms. And we need to pay attention to when they come and see them for what they are. Are they more important things than what you were aiming to focus on today?

If it's an internal distraction, maybe you need to reframe how you're viewing your current situation: maybe breaking down the gargantuan project you have at hand can make it more manageable to just get started. Maybe you just need to block distracting sites, or turn off your phone for two hours, and put in the work that you were expecting of yourself.

But what if a teammate needs your help, or an emergency has happened at work, won't you chime in and try your best to get everyone unstuck because you had your own goals? You need to go there and do your best to help.

Fast-forward to the end of the day, you don't know where the day has gone. Feeling tired, even depleted, and still staring at a long list of tasks and things you were supposed to get done by the end of the day. If anything, that list only grew throughout the day!

Have you ever felt that way? It's a stressful moment to find yourself in. Even worse, you are literally about to wrap the day! How are you meant now to put your mind at ease and disconnect for the evening?!

This is because you took the default path: the one where you change gears because your attention is needed elsewhere, but your intention is still aiming for the original goals. There is misalignment between your actions and your goals. You are not reframing them.

No, you just need to reprioritize your own goals with this external information at hand. And you need to make that explicit, especially for yourself: you might not be able to meet your set goals for the day, and you will need to make sure that was top priority for you still has a big chance to get done.

My nudge for you this week is double: define, before you start your workday, and even better if it's before consuming any sort of external message, your top three goals for the day with very clear priorities between them: there needs to be a #1, and #2 and a #3. Defend that list from interruptions throughout the day. Don't jump to one goal until the one with a higher priority before that one is completed.

Then, here it comes the second part: if something really important and unexpected happened, react to it the right way. Prioritize it within your three goals. Replace it for the ones that are now less important than this. Make it clear to yourself, and make it clear for others if they are expecting your results on something that's getting a priority change.

Hit me up if you need help setting this habit, or let me know how it felt if you are giving it a try. I encourage you to do so.

Thanks for reading.

Working for someone vs doing your own thing


Loved this article by my good friend and teammate Tigran Hakobyan on the dilemma of working for yourself vs being employed, and even the question of whether there is a way to move forward and succeed doing both at the same time. A recommended read for all of you on this path of both working somewhere and having your own thing, or thinking of starting a side-project.



When it comes to handwriting, I'm a sucker for fountain pens. They are a joy to write with. I'm quite picky in terms of design, and I love the modern, minimalist look of this fountain pen with a magnetic, self-aligning cap.

Share on Twitter