Your effectiveness is about identifying your most important task and tackling it with single-minded focus until it is completed. The challenge is usually those tasks that you know are priorities, but that you’ve put off for whatever reason.
Your ability to focus in a single-minded fashion to accomplish your most important task is the prime determinant of your success. The complication comes in, when you lack clarity about your true goals and objectives. Lack of clarity impairs action.
Successful people launch directly without hesitation into the major task that confronts them at any point in the day. However, while acting is better than procrastinating, action without planning leads to failure and disappointment, so learn to plan daily. Remember the 10/90 rule: investing 10% of your time in planning before beginning a project will help you use the other 90% of the time more effectively.
Remember Pareto’s rule. If you have a to-do list of 10 items, two of those items will generate 80% of the return you get from your entire list. Begin with the end in mind. After attending to the urgent and important matters, focus on what is important but not urgent. Failures do what is tension-relieving while winners do what is goal-achieving.
Make a list of your tasks. Prioritize your list by putting an “A” next to those tasks that you must do as soon as possible or face serious consequences. If you have more than one “A” number them “A1”, “A2” etc. “B” tasks are ones you should do, but that carry mild consequences. “C” tasks would be nice to do, but carries absolutely no consequences at all. “D” tasks are those you can delegate to someone else, so your goal is to delegate all of them to free your time for things only you can do. “E” task is one you can eliminate altogether. It may have seemed important once, but it isn’t any more. You can’t do everything and there is only so much time in a day, so start with the 20% of tasks that will generate 80% of the return.
The Law of Forced Efficiency relates to the idea that any job will expand to fill the time you allow for it. If you have two days, it will take you two days (or perhaps more). However, the flip side is also true: If you have only one day to complete a two-day job, somehow you find the time to do it.
Being effective requires a positive attitude and the will to do the most difficult task first. Because you can’t do everything, indulge in creative procrastination – put off the things that do not carry a consequence. Break large tasks down into a series of simple ones. Work with a sense of urgency.
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