Sometimes it’s the simple ideas that can most powerfully drive personal effectiveness.
Here are four of my favorite ideas for being productive:
- Get started
- Three accomplishments each week
- One thing a day to maintain momentum
We all have places we are avoiding or where we are waiting. Leaving things undone for too long can create lots of mischief—especially in your mind. The first, best step? Get started. Even taking one small action each day will shift a burden to a project that is in progress.
From a book by Anne Lamott titled Bird by Bird, this passage captures the idea:
Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then our father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brothers shoulder, and said, ‘Bird-by-bird, buddy. Just take it bird-by-bird.’
Large projects can seem overwhelming. One piece at a time is the way to go. Want to write a book? Write for ten minutes every day and you’ll be astounded at how fast your collection of writing will grow.
This favorite idea comes from Earl Nightingale, a 20th century motivational writer and speaker. On an audio tape I heard more than 30 years ago, Nightingale counsels: At the beginning of each week, choose three things that, when completed, will give you a sense of accomplishment for the entire week. Write them down. Then, each time you get a break from everything else, look at your list and remind yourself about the three items that are your focus for the week.
Then string fifty-two weeks together, and you’ll have an amazing year.
One thing a day
A colleague once interviewed someone who was attempting to keep a project moving despite difficult circumstances. The person’s strategy for keeping things going was obvious and yet profound: “Just do one thing a day to maintain your momentum.”
Projects that we have up and running tend slow and stall if we neglect them too long. A single, small action—or a conversation—can keep things moving.
I encourage you to explore these ideas; discover what works for you. Your observations are always of interest to me.