I have my goals and my progress journal. I have my routines, rituals, and habits. I have… hit another road block.
The more there is to implement in life, the less gets done. Your time gets vastly divided until, ultimately, there is just not enough time to achieve what you want to achieve.
I can say for certain that my priorities aren’t always where the majority of my time is spent. I more often than not focus my time on urgent tasks instead of the important ones. One of my biggest flaws is probably the most common flaw in the world, being reactionary.
Having a vision for my life puts me heads and shoulders above the majority of others on this planet. It gives me a sense of direction and allows me to have a centre point at which all of my decisions can be made. But simply having a to-do list written out does not ensure that my tasks all get completed.
Ribbit. Ribbit. Crunch.
If you’re reading this blog, then chances are you’ve heard of Brian Tracy. He is a very famous chap in the world of personal development and for a good reason, he knows what he’s talking about. I recently read his most popular book Eat That Frog.
Starting at the beginning the emphasis is on creating a good plan, however rather than focusing on how you should write your to-do list, Tracy made strides in this book by examining the methods you should use to attack it. I don’t know where his statistics are from, but he states that simply by writing your goals down you become ten times more productive.
There are three main messages in the book as far as I’m concerned, so those are what I’m going to share with you; Pareto’s Principle, Priorities and Check-listing.
A Natural Phenomena
Pareto was an Italian economist who noted that 80% of the countries land was owned by 20% of its people. While that discovery doesn’t seem too important by itself, that rough distribution began to crop up time and time again in all manner of different places. The concept was named after Pareto as he was the one who first noted the distribution.
Tracy suggests that only 20% of the tasks on your to-do list will move you significantly towards your goals. Basically, by strategically completing only a fifth of the work you would have otherwise had to do, you will achieve roughly the same results.
Sounds pretty mystical in all honesty, but it is true. If I look at my to-do list for the day, there probably are only two or three things that are going to offer significant contributions towards my long term goals.
Learn Where Your Priorities Lie
To identify which twenty percent of your tasks are the important ones, Tracy suggests you take a look at your priorities. List them off and rank them from most important to least important. What you achieve in life is going to result as a consequence of your actions, so which tasks on your to-do list are going to correspond most directly to the upper tier of your priority list?
Those higher priority tasks are the ones that you’re going to complete first thing in the morning. This is the true essence of his book. If you eat a frog in the morning, your day can only get better. By completing your most important and difficult tasks in the morning, things can only get easier.
Along those lines, your most important tasks will typical require a great deal more will power than your less important tasks. By completing them in the morning, you are attacking them when your reserves are at full. If you left them until later in the day, there is a good chance an excuse of some form would pop up.
In all honesty, it doesn’t matter if less important tasks are forgotten completely.
Have I Done That? Tick.
Something I have known about for years but still only rarely use are checklists. It seems so simple that people often skip over them, often thinking that they already utilise this tool. But they don’t, and it’s to their own detriment.
My experience of using checklists has been a powerful one. It was the most productive time of my life and not a single day went by where I didn’t accomplish everything that I set out to achieve. I honestly would recommend utilising this tool if you’re not already.
A checklist is basically a to-do list with boxes next to them. When you accomplish a task, you put a tick in that box. Simple.
I’d recommend taking that a step further, though. Have your overarching tasks for the day, but underneath list as many mini habits and you can think of. By breaking the task up into ridiculously small steps it is easy to start progressing through it and you can identify exactly how far through the task you are.
This book held a lot more tidbits of information, but I think I’ve successfully presented the most valuable 20%. He does mention about the importance of positive thinking, the need to maintain improving and the importance of controlling your own time.
If you take one thing away from this article, I would recommend you start implementing check-listing in your life. I will put my reputation on the line here and say that anyone will start to see immediate changes in their life by using them.