What are you avoiding?

I’m sure we’ve all been there. We have 100 things to do and we pick 90 things to get done and avoid those last few items that we just don’t want to do.

They are on our ‘to-do’ list for a reason. We put them there…or more likely…someone put them there for us. But, they’re there and they should probably get done.

Why do we avoid those tasks? I know there are some things that I just consistently ‘put off’ to another day (e.g., writing on this blog) and I can’t tell you ‘why’ I put them off.

Recently, I ran across this quote that really resonated with me:

People romanticize their plans but dread the execution. The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.

Using this blog as an example — it is quite romantic in that ‘hey…I can be famous if I write a blog’ type of way, but it means nothing if I don’t actually write regularly.   An idea is worthless without execution.  It’s the execution of ideas that deliver value.   You (and I) can talk all day long about what we are going to do, but until you do it, you’re just talking.

But think about what happens when you get those things done that really mean something to you? Those things that you’ve “romanticized.”  Getting those things to a ‘done’ state is so much more meaningful and magical than just having them sit there on paper or in your head.

What are you avoiding right now?

Having trouble getting things done?

I ran across an easy task tracking system that is working well for me and may help you get more done.

The system is the Autofocus System by Mark Forster is a simple and consists of a simple process of capturing and keeping track of your tasks.

Rather than me try to describe it, read how Mark describes it:

The system consists of one long list of everything that you have to do, written in a ruled notebook (25-35 lines to a page ideal). As you think of new items, add them to the end of the list. You work through the list one page at a time in the following manner:

  1. Read quickly through all the items on the page without taking action on any of them.
  2. Go through the page more slowly looking at the items in order until one stands out for you.
  3. Work on that item for as long as you feel like doing so
  4. Cross the item off the list, and re-enter it at the end of the list if you haven’t finished it
  5. Continue going round the same page in the same way. Don’t move onto the next page until you complete a pass of the page without any item standing out
  6. Move onto the next page and repeat the process
  7. If you go to a page and no item stands out for you on your first pass through it, then all the outstanding items on that page are dismissed without re-entering them. (N.B. This does not apply to the final page, on which you are still writing items). Use a highlighter to mark dismissed items.
  8. Once you’ve finished with the final page, re-start at the first page that is still active.

Jump over and read the rest of Mark’s description and outline of his system.

I’ve picked up a couple Mole Skin notebooks and started using them to keep track of the tasks I need to track (and do) and use one notebook for the office and one for home/school.  I’ve found that since I’ve been using this system, I’ve been able to keep on top of more things more easily.

If you are a fan of Steven Covey or David Allen, you may not like the Autofocus system…it may seem a bit to simple for you.

But…if you’re like me and can’t bring yourself to spend part of  your day trying to remember how to organize your life and another part of the day trying to use your system, you’ll like Autofocus.

This system is straightforward and is really nothing more than a simple to-do list.  The power comes in remembering to go back and read through the list regularly and actually do something with the tasks listed.

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Hiding behind your Role

A recent article by J Schwan at The Technology Edge titled “Stop Hiding Behind your Role and Get it Done” has an interesting spin on the world of technology and getting things done.  J Schwan writes:

…in order for a project to succeed we need to stop hiding behind our roles and get back to the fundamental understanding that we are technologists. This means that regardless of the role that we are playing, it is our responsibility to understand the business problem, understand the system as a whole and understand the plan that’s in place to solve that business problem.

This is an excellent thought and does happen more often than not.

I’ve found that many people tend to hide behind their roles and have done it myself in the past.  I don’t believe people do this on purpose…I think we all get comfortable in our roles and get so busy trying to get our jobs done that we sometimes forget about the ‘big picture’.  I think we get so busy, we stop focusing on the business issues and only focus on the small area that falls within our ‘small world’ of influence.

In the world of ‘productivity’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘methodologies’, everyone is so busy with following process, that we’ve lost focus on the end result: solve the problem and/or get it done.

I’ll be the first to say it:  Let’s stop hiding behind our processes, methodologies and roles, look at the issues and the solutions.  Then…here’s a thought…let’s look at what’s best for the business and do that.

J Schwan’s original post kicked off some interesting comments…take a jump over and read the entire post and the reader’s comments.

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In search of Perfection

A comment left by Raven on my post titled “Is Perfect Worth It?” led me to her post titled “Personal Growth Article: The 3 P’s: Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Paralysis by Gina Hiatt“. Gina Hiatt’s article can be found here: “The 3 P’s: Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Paralysis“.

This was a great article and I’m thankful to Raven for pointing it out. The 3 P’s is a wonderful way of looking at that strive to perfection. A brief summary of the 3P’s follows:

Perfectionism can be defined as striving towards IMPOSSIBLY high goals. Perfectionists are caught in a TRAP -– they can never be good enough. They engage in rigid, black or white thinking about their own performance -– if it isn’t perfect, it’s horrible.

When you believe that your next project should set the world on fire, you are setting yourself up for failure. At some level you know that this LEVEL of achievement is UNLIKELY. You lose your energy and excitement for your project.

You do absolutely NOTHING on the very project that is most important to you. This is devastating for your self-esteem, and very DISCOURAGING. It’s hard to plan your next project when you failed to complete your last one.

The article provides some ideas on avoiding the 3P’s…but I’ll leave you to read them to get the majority of the tips…but the one that jumped out at me was the following:

Look for role models who are SATISFIED with “good enough.” Note how they get things done and are not looked down on by others.

This goes back to the first line in my “Is Perfect Worth It” post:

“Don’t let perfect ruin good”

– Harry Beckwith

[tags] Getting Things Done, Perfection, Raven’s Brain [/tags]

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