Fix the Basics: To Be Prepared Is Half the Victory

Zugspitze. The highest peak in Germany.
Zugspitze 2,962 m above sea level. The highest peak in Germany. / © Robert Moszczynski

Fix the basics before you commit yourself to a big task. Don’t take any legacy with you. Become free and flexible. You will need that.

Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.

— Idowu Koyenikan

So you have big plans, maybe you are starting a company or moving abroad. What is the first thing you should do?

When you leave your comfort zone and take on new and big challenges, you must be well prepared.

What are the things you should pay special attention to? You need to know where you currently stand, free yourself from old burdens and have a system at hand that allows you to keep track of things under heavy stress and make the right decisions.

If your resources become scarce and the effort to manage your activities becomes higher than your effective performance, you will fail.

To succeed, you need to learn to reduce from the beginning, identify what’s important and prepare your environment to scale under pressure.

Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.

— David Allen (author of Getting Things Done)

If you start a big task unprepared with a full backpack of unfinished tasks, you will fail before the journey really begins.

So fix the basics!

Reduce What Is Possible and Complete the Rest

In the first step, you should realise your status quo and where your actual limits are.

You can do anything, but not everything.

— David Allen

Check what commitments you have and reduce them if possible. Commitments can cost you a lot of time and money. These are crucial resources that can quickly become scarce.

Big challenges take a lot of time. You cannot buy or earn time. It is an essential resource. Never waste time on stupid things. Always think about what you are doing and whether it is moving you forward.

Another crucial resource is money. Dramatically reduce your non-essential expenses to save as much as possible. This increases your flexibility.

Unfinished tasks will hold you up and drag you down like a lead ball. Small things will feel like an impossible task under intense pressure. Therefore, complete all overdue tasks. Start with an empty backpack. Don’t take anything with you. Be lightweight and flexible. Do a hard reset.

Stay Focused and Be Ready For a Challenging Time

The ability to focus determines everything. This is a quality that has become very rare nowadays. The world today is full of distractions. If you can focus on one thing, you will have a massive advantage over the others who cannot.

Prepare yourself to stay on top of things and work effectively under a lot of stress and pressure.

For example, if you start a business, you will have to work super hard. You will quickly get tired, stressed and lose the picture. It isn’t easy to decide what is really important and what is only seemingly relevant.

Success is the sum of the right decisions. Make sure you can make the right decisions in the long run. It is not a sprint but a marathon.

Find a Personal Organization System

Prepare a system for planning and task management that supports you and scales with your workload. You should try it out for a while and feel comfortable with it before you go into high gear.

My favourite method of personal organization is Bullet Journal by Ryder Carroll. It’s a combination of a calendar, a to-do list and a notebook. It’s an analogue notebook that forces you to be organised and systematic with it.

Bullet Journal Notebook on a wooden table.
One of the author’s bullet journals. A constant companion for over three years. / © Robert Moszczynski

An analogue organisational system helps you stay focused by forcing you to deal with it daily. Be careful with the use of apps. Focus is the key.

There are many ways to stay organized. Find yours, try it out, and apply it.

Take the First Step

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

— Laozi

Take your time to prepare thoroughly.

Reduce dependencies, save money and complete tasks. Find a system to stay organized, and most importantly, don’t lose focus.