because we fixate too much
on the enormity of what-lies-ahead.
There are solutions!
One of the keys to increasing your success is prioritizing.
The quality of your day depends on how you choose your next action step. Your week depends on it. Your month. Your year. And your life.
by Dane Findley
What Should I Do Next?
Ultimately, living life well happens when we learn to make good choices. In our day-to-day lives, the most important choice is often: what should I do next? What’s the best use of my time and energy now?
In our modern lives, we humans can be very funny about this process of capturing and prioritizing our tasks. Even when we know that there is a particular task that needs completing — how we try to avoid it, postpone it, negotiate with it, and cajole it!
I mean, it’s more fun just to wing-it, right? To be fluid, and to do what we feel like doing, when we feel like doing it?
Well, it is more fun just to wing-it, yes. For a short while. But things pile-up. Tasks don’t finish themselves, and — in particular — larger, more complex projects need strategy and proper sequence in order to maintain momentum toward full completion. This is where prioritizing really comes in handy.
Prioritizing: The 2 Models for Productivity
Identifying your next-step on any project, or in any moment, is determined, in part, by your model of personal productivity; that is, the method you use for approaching your day. Which is your model?
1. Proactive Prioritizing
Taking on your day with a proactive mindset means you have a system and a very conscious thought-process for how you envision the rest of your day unfolding.
“…I’m able to use systems without resenting them for rigidly structuring my time”
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2. Reactive Prioritizing
Responding to your day reactively means you “kind of” have a plan, but spend a significant amount of time reacting to new issues that arise moment-to-moment.
“…as soon as you begin work upon a carefully chosen next-action,
all the noise and angst dissipates and is replaced by a calm clarity”
Using a Personal Productivity System
How do you approach your day?
Look, I’m a guy that uses systems during his day. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing domestic chores at home or facilitating an important meeting at the office — I use systems. The reason I’m able to use systems without “resenting” them for rigidly structuring my time or making my day seem less spontaneous, is because: I control the systems.
Knowing that I’m the boss of me and that I have choices, helps me to engage my productivity systems with a sense of play (and not drudgery).
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You are the boss of you. You are in charge of your day and the choices you make.
There are days when I don’t feel like using my lists, and so I don’t. No guilt. No shame. I just give myself a break.
Ironically, though, knowing that I can “suspend” my systems any time I feel like it — that I give myself complete permission to throw my clipboard into a drawer anytime I want — helps me to feel empowered and enthusiastic about the whole process of capturing tasks into a list and completing them in a methodical way.
What is Your Next Action?
Now, in terms of how to choose what you do next, that is both a science, and an art. There are many ways, but four among them are particularly useful:
- sometimes you want to choose whatever on the list has been there the longest
- or, choose whatever on the list you feel least like doing
- or, whatever on the list is the most potentially revenue-producing
- or, if the task is one in a series toward completing a larger project, then whichever task is next in the sequence.
Actually, the “how” to choose what to do next on your list, is not even the most important dynamic. What’s more important is the awareness and intention to see your day, your hour, and this minute, through the lens of the next-action step.
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Ah, the next-action step: the thing on which your productivity hinges. You can accomplish so much more, once you understand the art of choosing the right next-action.
“…remember, the million-dollar question is — and always will be –
‘what is the next action step?’
Prioritizing is the antidote to overwhelm!”
And the very, very best part of the next-action, is: it’s a real de-stresser! When you think of all that you have to do, how much work and time will be involved, how much intricacy and effort — it can really raise those anxiety-levels! But as soon as you begin work upon a carefully chosen next-action, all the noise and angst dissipates and is replaced by a calm clarity.
Nothing lowers the heart rate like focusing cleanly on the task at hand.
Another benefit, is that completing your highest priority items now, will create more free, “play” time for you later.
The goal isn’t too finish everything on your list in one day (these days, it’s not uncommon for busy executives or state-of-the-art homemakers to have 100 to 150 items captured on their lists), but rather, to decide on the most important items, and then get-at ‘em!