101. Full Focus Planner 101: Back to Basics
Have you ever fallen off the Full Focus Planner wagon? Maybe you’ve taken some time off and are struggling to get on your feet again. Or your kids are heading back to school, but you’ve grown lax and are not prepared for the shift in seasons. You haven’t used your planner in a week, and jumping back in feels overwhelming. What do you do to get back on track?
In this episode, Courtney and Blake talk with Marissa Hyatt, Director of Marketing for Full Focus, about pushing the reset button after you’ve lost your rhythm. They’ll take you back to the basics and remind you of the 3 keys of the Full Focus System to help you get reoriented and back to being purposeful and productive every day.
In this episode, you’ll discover—
- How writing your goals down kickstarts mental and emotional momentum
- Why you have to be intentional to be truly productive
- The journey from resetting your mindset to taking action
- 3 bonus tips for for getting back on track with your productivity
Courtney: Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. I’m Courtney Baker, here with Blake Stratton, also known as Blake… Wait, who is the guy I get you confused with?
Blake: Who is that guy you get me confused with…? Let’s see…
Courtney: Who is that country music guy? Blake…Shelton!
Blake: No, no, no. You get me confused with Chris Hemsworth. When I was surfing on vacation and you saw my Instagram, you were like, “Is that Chris Hemsworth you were hanging out with ?” I’m like, “No, that’s me!”
Courtney: I am not even going to respond about any of this, but good job picking my favorite celeb. Okay, well, Blake, I want your true confession. Have you ever fallen off the Full Focus Planner bandwagon? I asked you this question so you couldn’t ask me.
Blake: Have I ever fallen off the Full Focus Planner bandwagon? Have I ever stopped using the planner for a time? Yes, right now, actually. I just got back from some vacation. I did not open that thing at all. But that’s just real life, people.
Courtney: Yeah, I think there are definitely seasons where, all of a sudden, you haven’t used your planner in a week. Maybe you were on vacation, or maybe you were on leave or things were crazy. Maybe you were dealing with a really hard time. So, this month (August), we really wanted this month to be a reset for all of us.
January was a long time ago, and maybe you’ve taken off time this summer. Maybe like Blake, you just got back from a vacation. Maybe things have been slow around the office. I don’t know where you work, but that doesn’t happen here very often. Maybe you were expecting your work load to get ramped up.
Right now, August… The school year is starting, and it feels like a good time to reset, especially if you have fallen off the bandwagon with your Full Focus Planner. So today, we’re going to get back to the basics and remind you of the little actions that can make a big difference.
Blake: It happens to all of us, especially if you use the Full Focus Planner. I talk to people all the time, “Oh, I fell off. I feel bad. I need to get back in the habit.” If that’s you, don’t worry. I’m not your lifeline today, because I’ve done it too. We upgraded. We have a special guest for this episode. The one and only, the director of marketing for Full Focus, Marissa Hyatt. Marissa Hyatt, welcome back to the show, back by popular demand. Yay!
Marissa: Thanks, Blake! Super excited. This is a great welcome. Courtney, you know what I realized? We’ve never done this podcast together.
Courtney: We haven’t. So for everybody listening, Marissa did several episodes while I was out on maternity leave and just was phenomenal. I enjoyed listening to them myself. But you and I, no, we haven’t. We work very, very closely together. I get to see Marissa way more than I get to see Blake, so this is really fun. Blake, I wish I saw you more, but I don’t.
Marissa: I think, Blake, she just said that I won the situation. That’s what I heard.
Blake: Well, I didn’t have my hopes up. I feel like I have a realistic perspective on that. But I’m excited you’re here again, Marissa, because this is something I think all of our listeners can relate to. This need, this feeling to get back on track, and I think it naturally happens in the summertime. Like I just mentioned for me, you go in vacation mode… The sun’s out, you’re having a good time. With this season, I feel like it’s right on time.
So we have some keys that we can give you some prompts for, but I’m looking forward to your perspective on these because, for those of you who haven’t heard us talk in detail about the inner workings of Michael Hyatt & Company, let me just tell you. Marissa handles a lot of things. That’s just at work. Obviously it’s win at work and succeed at life. But y’all on the marketing team, you have a lot to do. There’s a reason I’m not on your team. It’s a lot.
Marissa: Working keeps me busy. I’ll say that.
Courtney: I keep busy, but let’s be truthful. Marissa keeps herself busy. Marissa is like… Literally the other day, I said my new nickname for Marissa is “Mint,” because she loves gardening, she’s a foodie, and all the things, but mint is that one plant that never stops growing. You’re like, “Okay, mint… We have enough mint. We have mojitos for forever.” Are mojitos… Do you make that with mint? You have your own drink? Okay, we have enough for our mojitos for forever. But it keeps and keeps growing, and that is definitely Marissa. I’m super grateful to get to work with you .
Blake: Wait, that would’ve been nice. It’s like 10 a.m., but now I’m like, “Yeah, mojitos.”
Marissa: Mojitos sound great.
Blake: That’s not one of the keys today. Cocktails somehow did not make this list. But the main idea when it comes to getting back on track is to not try to hustle your butt off or try to change the past, but just return to the basics, return to the essentials, that make this system that we teach, this Full Focus System, work. So that’s really what we’re going to cover. What are the keys to those basics, and how can you utilize them to get back on track? Sound good to everybody?
Courtney: Sounds great.
Blake: Courtney, what’s the first key?
Courtney: The first key… And this may be obvious, but again, I think it’s really important for us all to get back to the basics here. The first key is annual goals. You need your goals because without them, guys, you don’t have a destination. Without them, you are drifting, and drifting is never a destination we choose. Again, you’re out there… Good luck. I hope you drift somewhere good. So the key here is really to start with what you want in every life domain, not just work. I know it’s really easy for all of us to fall into that trap. Build goals for your whole life that are going to help you get where you want to go.
Marissa: This last quarter, in Q2… I think I was on the podcast in Q1 a couple of times. I was crushing it, I had accomplished all these goals, I had my rituals solid. Then I moved, and everything went out the window. Q2 was a hot mess. I had written down goals. Didn’t accomplish one. We had a lot of things going on at work. It was just a busy, busy season. Personally, obviously, my whole world was kind of thrown upside down. I had a new house, was thrown into home ownership (which was super exciting but also very overwhelming), and just a few weeks ago, I decided I had to get back to basics, exactly what we’re talking about.
So I went through and revised my goals. What I had set out originally was no longer relevant. So I went back to those basics and made sure they were SMARTER. Guys, I just have to say that I finally feel back with it. I’m not 100 percent there, but I would say I’m probably 80 percent back on track, and it feels so much better. It is so true, Courtney, that if you don’t have a destination you’re just drifting, and that’s totally what was happening to me in the last quarter. It was stressful. It didn’t feel good to just not have anywhere I was going, no clear direction. So anyway, I think that is such a great key to get back to those goals, to give you that North Star to point toward.
Blake: So much of feeling off-track is in your head. I think that’s why it’s so helpful, even if you have annual goals or some version of them, to write them down again, to rewrite them down. There’s something about that practice that I think almost kickstarts a mental and emotional momentum that is super helpful, even if you don’t take any action toward the goals. Just thinking, “Oh yeah, what do I want,” and taking the time to write it down reconnects your mind and emotion, I think, to that chosen destination. That has tremendous benefits.
So don’t feel… If you’ve been avoiding annual goals or even looking at them because, “Oh, I’m probably behind or I don’t know if I can really do it,” just start small. Write it down. Put it somewhere that you can see it. Write it on a piece of paper, stick it on your forehead so other people can see it, whatever you have to do. But it will certainly help even though it’s one small action.
Marissa: Yeah, and I think the goal visibility thing is so important. We talk about this a lot, here on the podcast, in our emails, that keeping your goals visible is critical to your success. I think personally… The way that I do this, it’s really worked for me. We have a great sheet that you can print out. If you go to focusonthispodcast.com/printables, we have a great annual goals poster that you can type in your goals and print it out. I have one on my refrigerator. I have one right here in my home office. I have another one in my bathroom, so every morning when I’m getting ready, I’m seeing those goals.
We also have this baked into our Full Focus Journal. Every morning when I’m journaling, I quickly go back and reference those goals. Keeping them visible actually helps you get your wheels turning to say, “What can I do today to move forward on this goal?” That has tremendously helped me. I think that’s honestly part of the reason that I really struggled this last quarter. I didn’t have my goals visible at all.
Courtney: Key number two is weekly objectives. I think we all know this, but big goals get accomplished through small steps. I wish it was just like we could set goals and just do one big activity and be like, “We did it, we crushed it!” But unfortunately, that’s just not how it works, especially if you’re writing SMARTER goals. You won’t achieve your goals unless you can break them down into daily actions. For me, I would say it’s very rare for me to totally fall off the planner because it’s so ingrained into who I am at this point. But what I find sometimes is that I miss a Weekly Preview.
That is… Oh guys, I can tell a huge difference when I have not done a Weekly Preview, especially if it has happened twice in a row (which rarely happens) but it’s like, all of a sudden, I’m out to sea with nothing tethering me back to what is most important. So I think this weekly objective part is really, really important for everyone’s success.
Marissa: I think one of the best questions, like I was saying with having your goals visible, is asking yourself, “What can I do this week to move one step closer to my goal?” I think that’s such an easy question to ask yourself. We really have this baked into our Weekly Preview inside of the Full Focus Planner. But even if you haven’t yet gotten your Full Focus Planner or you’re here to learn productivity tips and things, if you ask yourself that question every single week, guaranteed, you’re going to be able to make progress on your goals. There’s no question.
It gives you a laser focus during the week that constantly… It’s kind of like, you know in guided meditation where it’s like your mind starts drifting and then, all of a sudden, they’re like, “Okay, come back to your breath.” I don’t know if you guys do any type of meditation, but I feel like when you come back to your breath, it’s like you have that clear focus. To me, those Weekly Big 3 are like that coming back to the breath, coming back to those main objectives you need to accomplish this week to make progress on your goals.
Courtney: I really think what we’ve done here is we have really systematized thinking about your work. I think that’s a really good definition of productivity. Actually, you have to have the process of thinking about your work. We use the word intentional all the time. “You have to be intentional about this.” Because that’s what true productivity is. It’s not responding to every email in your inbox. That’s doing a lot of things, but that’s not actually being productive. So that’s why I think when I miss my Weekly Preview, it hurts so much because I didn’t do any deep thinking about what I’m actually doing.
Blake: Yeah, that’s why this is a basic, this is why it’s an essential thing. It ultimately comes down to… Chaos is usually the thing that happens when we feel out of control of ourselves and our life, and all these basics are designed to help you regain that sense of control over the things that you can control. So setting course every week with a few objectives helps you feel that and helps you do that very practically.
Marissa: This probably seems really obvious to most people, that your Weekly Big 3 should reflect your annual goals. Whatever you’re focusing on that quarter, that’s how you’re kind of chunking it down into your Weekly Big 3. One of the things I realized, and I don’t know if you guys have experienced this too, is that I was just doing what needed to happen that week and wasn’t using that goal or those goals as that GPS system. When I shifted my Weekly Big 3 to really be about taking next steps on my goals, that’s when I started really accomplishing goals.
Like in Q1, when I implemented this, I accomplished five goals that quarter. It was like I was just banging them out because every single week I was doing one thing that was propelling me versus what my calendar told me or what my task list was saying needed to happen that week. So I don’t know if that’s how y’all think about your Weekly Big 3 or what kind of questions you ask as you’re setting those.
Courtney: Yeah, absolutely. I will just add I think that is exactly how the system should work. The other thing that I ask myself is, “How do I want to feel at the end of this week? What things need to be accomplished this week to get me there?” At the end of the work week, if I want to feel awesome, which is usually the answer… “How do I want to feel at the end of this week?” and, “What needs to be accomplished to get me there?” A lot of times that naturally reorients me to my goals, because it’s usually the really important things. That’s what I want to get done. If you’ve set your goals up right, they are exciting, you’re motivated, you have a really strong why. So that’s one that guides my thinking as well.
Blake: So, annual goals, weekly objectives. That brings us to key three, which is where the rubber meets the road, daily action. There is certainly benefit to thinking through. A lot of what we’ve already talked about is thinking work, and this third key also is some thinking work, but this is really where stuff happens. It’s the daily actions. You can’t do an annual goal. You can’t even do a weekly objective. You can only do daily tasks.
So in this key, what we want to remind you of is to set intentionally, not fifteen tasks for your day but a limited, very important, high leverage, Daily Big 3. Three tasks that are the most helpful, the most important things to move you toward those weekly objectives. Marissa, you’ve been setting Daily Big 3s for a while. What are some things you’ve learned about this process that would be helpful for those that are trying to return to the basics of this?
Marissa: Like I said with the Weekly Big 3, I’m trying to focus really on my goals for that and what I need to do this week to move forward on them. However, with my Daily Big 3, it’s a little bit different because it is about what needs to get done today. For instance, one of my Daily Big 3 today is to record this episode. That doesn’t tie into my goals, but it’s something I need to do today. It’s important.
So I think as you’re thinking through setting your Daily Big 3, ask yourself, “What can I do today to move toward my goals?” and, “What is important for me to accomplish today?” Those aren’t always tied together (they certainly can be), but that’s kind of how I like to think about it. That’s usually the first thing in my day when I’m doing workday startup ritual. I go through my calendar, I go through my task list, I look back at that Weekly Big 3, and those are the main areas I’m looking to set my Daily Big 3.
Courtney: Yeah, it’s almost like an algorithm. You’re taking those pieces and you’re spitting out what your Daily Big 3 should be. You bring up such a great point. A lot of times, people ask us about a goal versus a project. Obviously, there are lots of things that still have to be accomplished that are not goals, that are outside of your goals. A lot of times, those are going to end up on your Daily Big 3.
But there also should be that component of… There are going to be things scattered throughout the week that are moving you toward your weekly objectives that are tied to your annual goals. I know all of you listening are like, “We know, Courtney, it’s the Full Focus System.” But it is! That is really the magic of this planner.
Blake: Absolutely. If you’re wondering, “Well, that’s great. But what happens if I miss something on my Daily Big 3?” I’ve been there before. This is a teaser! We are going cover that more in depth later this month. So if you thought about unsubscribing just because Verbs isn’t here, that’s the hook. That’s the bait.
Courtney: Hold on, hold on.
Blake: Well, let’s do this. Normally, we do final thoughts when we come toward the end of the episode, and here what we’ve covered so far are just some essentials for getting back on track. The key of annual goals, weekly objectives, daily tasks. It’s that natural, logical flow to go from vision level, desire level, to action level. But what do you think of this? Instead of giving just one final thought, what if we each shared a bonus tip for those listening who need some help to get back on track. Some things that have worked for us…could be small things, could be big things…that just help restart the gears of productivity.
Courtney: Okay, I can go first. But I’m going to cheat because I really have two. One is for your Weekly Preview. If you’ve found… Or maybe you’ve never started doing a Weekly Preview, which I love that you’ve hopefully are using the planner, but really, I think the magic of this system is the Weekly Preview… But if you’ve fallen off-track with that, first of all, schedule it. Maybe even pair it with something with you would be really excited about. Decide to go to a coffee shop on Sunday evening and do your Weekly Preview. Make it a thing, make it an event to try to help kickstart getting back on track with that.
In addition, I just want to add one disclaimer with your Daily Big 3. Just a reminder. It does not have to be three. It can be one. Or days like today, I’m basically in meetings all day today, and I really don’t have any time for any other Big 3 items. So today, I just have two, and that’s great. So I just always want to remind people that you have the power to do that.
Marissa: My biggest tip is really about getting excited again, because I think in order for you to get back on track, kickstart productivity, goal achievement, and all of those things, if you’re not excited about where you’re heading, that is going be the most underwhelming, “I’m over it. I’m not going to stick in this for the long haul.” So I would encourage you to go back to those goals. Maybe you haven’t even set goals yet. If you haven’t, this is a great opportunity to do that. If you have, go back to those goals and make sure that they are following that SMARTER framework.
One of the best parts of that SMARTER framework that differentiates it from just a SMART goal is it has to be exciting. If it’s not exciting to you, like genuinely exciting, like gets you out of bed in the morning, gets you going, scrap it! There’s no harm in scrapping it. Replace it with something that is exciting. With that said, make sure your goals are visible. I think if you lose sight of them, if they’re just in your planner but you’re not really referencing them, it’s going to be really easy to not get back on track. I think having that North Star of where you’re heading is incredibly helpful.
Blake: I think my tip would be to not go it alone. This is a temptation for me. I get off-track, I don’t really talk to anybody about it, and I just sort of try to fix it myself. I’m amazed… I’m an introvert, but when I actually sit down with someone for the express purpose of just talking about, “Hey, what are your goals? How is it going? What’s been going on?” two things happen. One, blind spots get revealed. Things that I wasn’t even aware of, obstacles of my success, things that are keeping me from making progress, all of a sudden are illuminated.
The second thing that happens is those obstacles start to shrink. Usually, the obstacle gets revealed, and then as you keep talking, it starts to shrink because you go, “Oh yeah, that’s totally solvable.” That can just be because you have a sounding board. It could be because this person is giving you some feedback as well. No matter what the case is, if you’re off-track, find a friend, a spouse, whatever, and schedule a coffee just to talk about this stuff because I guarantee you will leave encouraged, more hopeful, and more powerful as you try to get back on track.
Courtney: I love that. That is so good. Such great advice. So you don’t have to drift through life. You can get back on track with your planner by returning to the basics. Your annual goals, your weekly objectives, and your daily actions.
Thanks, everybody, for joining us on Focus on This. This is the most productive podcast on the Internet, so please share it with your friends, and be sure to join us in the Full Focus Community. You’ll see our friend Marissa there pretty frequently. You can also get a lot of encouragement from people chasing really big goals just like you. So we’ll be here next week for another great episode. Until then…
All: Stay focused!