So you are  overflowing with great ideas, but somehow they don't ever seem to get past the idea stage. Sure, imagining things is fun. It's exciting to come up with fresh ideas, and it is a gift when you can do that. Follow-through, on the other hand, executing those great ideas, is a learned skill.

Here are 10 Ways to Keep Your Focus on Execution:

1. Start journaling

It's great for producing ideas. Choose one word or a topic each day and write about it for 15 minutes. There's a second advantage to journaling. In addition to helping you produce ideas, it's a way for you to record ideas, and that's important. There's a time for thinking creatively, and for most people, that comes in spurts. Enjoy it, because when things slow down, the work starts.

2. Narrow it down

Thanks to your journaling, you have all those amazing ideas on paper. At least initially until you build better skills, choose one idea. Don't worry! You can come back to all those other great ideas once this one is successfully underway. You have them written down.

3. Create a plan 

No matter how big or small your idea, treat it with respect. Write a plan for executing it. Plans include a mission statement, sometimes a problem statement (something you want to fix), goals, objectives and strategies. Larger plans have budgets or line up other resources required for plan execution. A mission statement is about your overall direction and purpose.  You can use the same mission statement for a lot of different ideas. Objectives differ from goals in that objectives are measurable.

4. Designate resources 

What resources do you need to make your idea real? Financial? Physical? Human? Part of planning is to figure out what you'll need and how you're going to get it.

5. Establish marking points

Your marking points along the path to completion are places in the plan or specific time points that you will pause to measure and evaluate.

6. Create measurements

You need a way to measure your objectives. You can measure with numbers, dollars, or progress toward execution, any type of measurement that is meaningful.

7. Review your plan

In addition to measuring and evaluating at fixed points, review your plan every day. If you're starting off with a small idea you can complete in a day, review it whenever you get distracted. Your purpose in reviewing your plan is to make certain that you direct the activities in which you engage toward executing your idea. Is what you're doing contributing to or distracting you from your plan? This is the time to eliminate distractions!

8. Evaluate

At your fixed marking points, evaluate your plan. Ask yourself, how's it going? Take note of your general sense of things. But then get more specific, using those measurements you set up. Are you on track to meeting your objectives? If yes, pat yourself on the back, and go back to work. If not, ask yourself why not, and write your answers. You can journal about them. Didn't do this...why? Always ask questions. 

9. Change course when needed

 Part of the process of evaluation is to realize when your strategies aren't working to accomplish your objectives. You might even realize that your idea isn't going to work. If the latter is the case, congratulate yourself that your plan allowed you to discover that before you wasted precious time, energy and other resources trying to proceed with an idea that's unworkable!

10 .Celebrate completion

Even a small project deserves a pat on the back from yourself for completing it. Every project deserves a time that you can sit back and look at what you've done and appreciate the real results of your work.

Some people go through these steps very naturally when they have an idea. They don't even notice that they're doing these things! But some of us need a little help, some training. Apply this exercise to carrying out a few of your ideas, and pretty soon you'll do it naturally too!

Published on: Apr 11, 2016
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