Feeling Listless? Make a List!
Plan Every Day in Advance
Your mind, your ability to think, plan and decide, is your most powerful tool for overcoming procrastination and increasing your productivity. Your ability to set your goals, plan and take action on them determines the course of your life. The very act of thinking and planning unlocks your mental powers, triggers your creativity and increases your mental and physical energies.
Your ability to plan well, in advance of beginning, is a measure of your overall competence. The better the plan you have, the easier it is for you to overcome procrastination, to get started , and then to keep going.
One of your top goals at work should be for you to get the highest possible return on your investment of mental, emotional and physical energy. The good news is that every minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution. It only takes about ten or twelve minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you at least two hours (100-120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort throughout the day.
When you consider how helpful planning can be in increasing your productivity and performance, it is amazing how few people practice it every single day. And planning is really quite simple to do. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. The most sophisticated Palm Pilot, computer program or time planner is based on the same principle. It is based on you sitting down and making a to do list of everything you have to do before you begin.
Make Your Lists a Habit
Always work from a list. When something new comes up, add it to the list before you do it. You can increase your productivity and output by 25% or more from the first day that you begin working consistently from a list.
Make out your list the night before, at the end of the workday. Move everything that you have not yet accomplished onto your list for the coming day and then add everything that you have to do the next day. When you make out your list the evening or the night before, your subconscious mind works on your list all night long while you sleep. Often you will wake up with great ideas and insights that you can use to get your job done faster and better than you had initially thought.
The more time you take to make written lists of everything you have to do, in advance, the more effective and efficient you will be.
Types of Lists
There are different lists that you need for different purposes. First, you should create a master list on which you write down everything you can think of that you want to do some time in the future. This is the place where you capture every idea that comes to or every new task or responsibility that comes up. You can then sort out the items later.
Second, you should have a monthly list that you make up at the end of the month for the month ahead. This may contain items transferred from your master list.
Third, you should have a weekly list where you plan your entire week in advance. This is a list that is under construction as you go through the current week.
Finally, you transfer items from your monthly and weekly lists onto your daily list. These are the specific activities that you are going to accomplish that day.
As you work through the day, tick off the items on your list as you complete them. This activity gives you a visual picture of accomplishment. It generates a feeling of success and forward motion. Seeing yourself working progressively through your list motivates and energizes you. It raises your self-esteem and self-respect. Steady, visible progress propels you forward and helps you to overcome procrastination.
The Truth About Frogs
by Brian Tracy
Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.
If You Have to Eat Two Frogs, Eat the Ugliest one First
This is another way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then to persist until the task is complete before you go on to something else.
If You Have to Eat a Live Frog at all, it Doesn’t Pay to Sit and Look at it for Very Long
The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning. You must develop the routine of “eating your frog” before you do anything else and without taking too much time to think about it.
Take Action Immediately
Successful, effective people are those who launch directly into their major tasks and then discipline themselves to work steadily and single-mindedly until those tasks are complete. “Failure to execute” is one of the biggest problems in organizations today. Many people confuse activity with accomplishment. They talk continually, hold endless meetings, and make wonderful plans, but in the final analysis, no one does the job and gets the results required.
Develop a Positive Addiction
You can actually develop a “positive addiction” to endorphins and to the feeling of enhanced clarity, confidence, and competence that they trigger. When you develop this addiction, you will, at an unconscious level, begin to organize your life in such a way that you are continually starting and completing ever more important tasks and projects. You will actually become addicted, in a very positive sense, to success and contribution.
Practice is the key to mastering any skill. Fortunately, your mind is like a muscle. It grows stronger and more capable with use. With practice, you can learn any behavior or develop any habit that you consider either desirable or necessary.
What is your “frog?” What is the one task that you despise doing each day? Once you have chosen your “frog” make it a habit to wake up every morning and do that task first.