FOUR STRATEGIES FOR CUTTING YOUR TO-DO LIST IN HALF

WEx2Quite often when I ask a friend how he is doing, he inevitably responds, “Busy. Crazy busy.” It seems like all of us have more to do that we can possibly get done.

One of the most helpful time management principles I’ve ever found is David Allen’s Two-Minute Rule. The basic concept is that you take immediate action on anything that can be done in two minutes or less. This is the key to becoming more productive.

To implement this, you should do these kinds of actions NOW. Why? Because it will take longer than two minutes to add the action to your to-do list, organize it, get back up to speed later, and complete the task. Instead of going through that whole rigmarole, you just do it and move on to the next task. It is a huge productivity booster. And it will keep your to-do lists much shorter.

In addition to the two-minute rule, here are four strategies for cutting your to-do list in half:

1- Understand the five basic decisions. With any given input (email message, physical inbox item, etc.), there are only five actions you can take:

-You can DO it by taking action now yourself.

-You can DELEGATE it to someone else who is better qualified or has the bandwidth.

-You can DEFER (or schedule) it to do later.

-You can FILE it for later reference.

-You can DELETE it and forget about it.

2- Make a decision and then act. This is the most important part—make a decision. Most of the decisions you and I make are not that consequential. You can afford to be wrong occasionally.

It is better to make a decision and move on than waste precious time trying to get it right. (Obviously, I am not talking about big decisions that require significant risk or investment.)

3- Don’t second-guess yourself. This is unproductive. You can spend an inordinate amount of time questioning your decisions. What is past is past. Let it go.

Don’t get bogged down in “the paralysis of analysis.” Learn what you can and keeping moving. Like someone once observed, “It is easier to steer a moving car than one that is parked.”

4- Set a time-limit. Parkinson’s Law states: “work expands to the time allotted for it.” For example, I may go online right before lunch, say 11:00 a.m. I then give myself 30 minutes to process the emails that have accumulated since I checked earlier that morning.

On average, I can go through 70 emails in this amount of time. The deadline helps me be more productive.

You will get better with practice. Consciously try to implement this principle. Nike got it right with their slogan: “Just do it!” This applies to task management as well. Ready, set, go!

How many items are currently on your to-do list? How many could you have eliminated if you had just taken the action when it first appeared?

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ARE YOUR BELIEFS KEEPING YOU STUCK?

limitesRSERSCLimiting Beliefs are like fences, invisible barriers. They only exist in our mind, but I treat them as though they were “out there”, part of the real world.

I immediately think of three kinds of limiting beliefs:

Beliefs about myself I have often been stuck in my life, not because I didn’t have the money, time, or contacts to make progress, but because of some deep-seated assumption. For example, early in my career, I thought I was too young to succeed. I sabotaged myself in subtle ways. Now I routinely meet people who think they are too old to succeed.

But what is the truth? The truth is that age has very little to do with our success. It’s often a story we use, whether we are young or old, to stay stuck.

Here are some other examples of limiting beliefs we might have about ourselves:

“I’m just not technologically-inclined.”

“I can’t help it, I’m just big-boned.”

“I’ve never been very good with money.”

“I guess I’m just not that creative.”

“I’m a quitter. I never finish what I start.”

Beliefs about others It’s not just the beliefs we have about ourselves that keep us stuck, sometimes it’s a belief we have about others.

I once worked for a man whom I thought was arrogant. Though he was brilliant, he kept his office door shut most of the time. When he did venture out, he barely spoke to anyone. If he passed you in the hallway, he would look away. As I got to know him, I discovered that he wasn’t arrogant at all. He just suffered from low self-esteem and, as a result, was extremely shy. As I got to know him he warmed up and became a mentor.

The truth about him was exactly the opposite of what I initially thought. My limiting belief almost cost me an important relationship.

Here are examples of limiting beliefs we might have about others:

“There’s no use asking. He’s too busy to meet with me.”

“He’s just a bean counter. What does he know?”

“Someone like her would never go out with a guy like me.”

“She’s too introverted to be a good leader.”

“He hasn’t responded. I guess he’s upset with me.”

Grand Canyon National ParkBeliefs about the world Sometimes the beliefs that keep us stuck are global. I saw this recently when I was talking to one of my friends in the book publishing industry.

I asked him how it was going. “It’s tough,” he admitted. “With the economic downturn, stores are continuing to close and book sales are down.” I don’t doubt things are tough for him. However, I do question whether the economy is as bad as he thinks. He may be suffering from selection bias.

Because I speak for organizations in a variety of industries, I see different perspectives on the economy. For some, the economy is booming. For others, we’re still in the Great Recession.

Here are examples of limiting beliefs we might have about the world:

“You know how women are. They are so emotional.”

“Everyone knows politicians will say anything to get elected.”

“I don’t trust management. They’re always trying to screw us.”

“Rich people don’t care about anyone but themselves.”

“You can’t be successful without compromising your integrity.”

Beliefs are not the culprit. They can be a good thing when they are rooted in reality. But we have to learn to distinguish between reality and excuses. For example, I used to think of myself as an introvert. It was the reason I didn’t mingle with people at parties or even introduce myself to audience members before I spoke in public. But it suddenly dawned on me one day that this was a limiting belief. It was keeping me from having the impact I really wanted. It wasn’t the way things were; it was an excuse that was keeping me from growing.

So I changed my belief. I decided that introversion was more of a preference rather than something innate. I could chose which behavior to exhibit (introversion or extroversion) based on what I wanted to achieve.

If you find yourself stuck in some area, ask yourself, “What beliefs do I have about this that are limiting my ability to move forward? Is this really true? Is there something else I need to believe that is more rooted in reality?”

What is a limiting belief you struggle with?

THREE TRUTHS ABOUT BUSINESS UPS AND DOWNS

baseball4When I was growing up, ABC’s Wide World of Sports had this tagline, “The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.” This has pretty much described my life as an entrepreneur.

I don’t mean I have experienced defeat in the distant past, but my life is filled with one victory after another (hardly). Quite often, I experience both of these in a single week, always with three steps forward and two backward.

Last Monday for example, I wrote a post about how to change your life with two words, something simple that I wanted to share with my followers. Honestly, I didn’t put a lot of effort into it, but it went semi-viral.

In a week, it garnered two thousand page views, almost one hundred Facebook shares, and seventy retweets. It obviously struck a nerve. By my standards, it was a home run. I was elated. Maybe I’ve cracked the code, I thought.

Not so much. Three days later, I published a new post on leadership and accessibility, sharing some lessons I had learned about saying “no” as a leader. I felt it was thoughtful and really important, but my audience? Crickets.

Typically, my posts hit about 900 on the day I publish them. This time, it didn’t even crack the the mark of 50. It made me want to ask: “Is this thing offline?”

Have you ever experienced these kinds of results? I’m sure you have. If so, you’re normal. It isn’t that unusual. I only achieve the semi-viral response – a home run – about once every 50 or so posts. This is also about how often I experience the cricket response – a strikeout.

In the early days, when I was just starting to build my online platform, my emotions pretty much tracked with my results. If I had a big hit, I was excited and motivated. If I struck out, I wanted to throw in the towel and quit. But over past 5 years, I’ve learned three important truths:

1-A post or episode does not a platform make. One post will not make you or break you. Sure, I enjoy the traffic, attention, and engagement when something really works. But I have also learned not to get too discouraged when something doesn’t.

2-Amateurs quit, but pros keep swinging. Professionals aren’t smarter than you. They probably don’t have secrets you don’t have – or can’t get. Instead, they are just persistent. When they whiff, they adjust their grip, straighten their shoulders, and take another swing. Because they stay at it, they eventually see results.

3-I have a better chance of winning if I stay in the game. So many people walk off the field before the clock runs out. They haven’t lost; they are just behind. But, the future is wide open. Anything is possible. The key is to keep stepping up to the plate. When I do this, good things happen – not always immediately, but eventually.

And the great thing about being a blogger, a podcaster, or any other kind of creative, is that nothing is wasted. Every setback becomes the raw material you need to create better, more nuanced art.

So next time you create something of value and don’t get the response you want, remember, even the pros only hit the ball 30 percent of the time they step up to bat. That’s just part of the game. Whether you win or lose, there’s always something to learn.

 What was your most recent victory or defeat? Tell us your experience.

CHANGE YOUR LIFE WITH THESE TWO WORDS

O-Coaching-como-instrumento-de-realinhando-de-foco.My words for 2017 are FOCUS and POSITIVITY. As leaders in a chaotic and negative world, we lose sight of these two important traits. Focus and positivity will change the way we lead, what we accomplish, and how we impact those who follow us.

We can radically alter our perspective (and performance) by combining focus and positivity in these two events: the morning routine and the evening resistance.

Morning Routine

Stick to a morning routine of silence, reflection, reading and exercise. Be focused and disciplined. People nowadays find their tasks usurping their morning routines. This inevitably leads to negativity throughout the day – they feel scattered, less productive, and overwhelmed.

We must value ourselves, which includes setting aside our mornings to regenerate and focus our lives. When we do, we set the tone for a successful day, our priorities intact, our head and heart on straight, and our soul settled. We essentially give the day permission to be positive because we’ve started in a peaceful direction.

>> With pen and paper, write out your ideal morning routine. Tape this to your monitor as a reminder that our day’s start positively influences our day’s end.

positividade1Evening Resistance

The natural result of taking risks and leading well is resistance. It comes in many forms: an angry email, that internal voice of condemnation, an out-of-the-blue financial roadblock, or a colleague’s interference. This resistance slams into me as I settle into sleep. All the what-if’s – the accusations about unaccomplished tasks, the berating -happen when I’m finally still.

If this evening resistance continues, it’s time to do a self-intervention. During my book launch, the old voices returned. “This won’t sell. You’re a hack. Folks will walk away.” This could have derailed me from my focus. Instead, I remind myself of James 1:2 (Phillips). “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!”

The evening resistance is your friend to embrace, not an intruder to resent. The pushing back helps you clarify the initial reason why you’re doing the thing you do, refocus on that effort, and reframe the why. Experiencing resistance confirms you’re doing something right – you’re bringing light into dark places.

I love what Martin Seligman writes in his amazing (helpful!) book Learned Optimism: “I have found, however, that pessimism is escapable. Pessimists can in fact learn to be optimists, and not through mindless devices like whistling a happy tune or mouthing platitudes…but by learning a new set of cognitive skills.” Yes, it is possible to reframe your outlook, even when angry thoughts assail you.

>> If the resistance comes tonight, ask: How can I welcome this as a friend? List three reasons how this resistance will push you toward greater focus and positive enthusiasm.

positividade2Focus and positivity – Such beautiful, simple words, and when they’re operational in your morning and evening, a stunning synergy emerges. Workdays become productive, and your mind de-clutters from crippling negativity.

How about you? How have you learned to focus better this year? How has positivity changed the way you view your obstacles?