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Summary:

Do you ever wonder what is keeping you from making progress toward your goals? Perhaps you’ve set up a schedule for yourself, outlining the things you need to do each day so that you focus on the most important tasks related to your business, but somehow, […]

post-it-actionDo you ever wonder what is keeping you from making progress toward your goals? Perhaps you’ve set up a schedule for yourself, outlining the things you need to do each day so that you focus on the most important tasks related to your business, but somehow, you still seem to be falling short. Maybe the solution is not in the lack of planning and foresight on your part, but rather the lack of clarity around the things that need to be done.

In trying to fine-tune my own productivity and lead generation efforts, I find myself needing to be increasingly clear and concise with my planning. For example, until today, you would have found the phrase “Social Networking” on my calendar. At some point in the past, I selected the handful of lead generation and marketing tactics that I would use for growing my business. Social networking was one of those tactics.  I blocked out time within my schedule on a daily basis for “Social Networking,” but when I got to that time slot, I found myself floundering over what to do with the time.

More important than having “social networking” on my radar is having clear-cut action steps that will move me closer to my goals. For instance, part of my social networking involves finding people to interview for my podcast and blog. Last week, I contacted several people with proposals for podcast episodes and blog articles. I settled on specific topics, contacted experts in the respective fields, and coordinated times to meet with them to discuss the topics. These were clear and concise steps. I was still networking with a group of online contacts, but I was taking specific actions to generate tangible results (in this case, podcast episodes and blog articles, plus the added benefit of promoting the two media in the process).

On my calendar now, you won’t find a slot for “Social Networking.” Instead, you’ll find two slots, “Blog Work” and “Podcast Work.” For simplicity’s sake, I’m still keeping my descriptions to one or two words for my calendar, but when I go to a given task, I’ll see a set of next actions that require my attention. For example, when I go to “Podcast Work,” I’ll see that I have several episodes in progress, along with specific tasks that need to be completed to move each episode along.

The intention for the time slot has not changed, but the outcome has. I know now exactly how to use the time. I’m not contemplating what needs to be done; I already know that part. Instead, I focus on actually getting the work done, and at the end of the day, I can say that I’ve completed real steps that move me a little further in the direction I want to go.

How do you make real progress toward your goals? What systems, tools and tactics do you use to make sure that you’re taking specific actions instead of floundering over ambiguous to-dos?

Flickr Post-It image by J_O_I_D

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  1. Scott Young had a great article on this topic:

    Relax Without Feeling Lazy: Kill Open Loops
    http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2008/02/28/relax-without-feeling-lazy-kill-open-loops/

  2. A Passion For ‘Puters » Blog Archive » Making “Next Actions” work for me in GTD Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    [...] long contemplation of next actions in GTD was inspired by Web Worker Daily’s article on Unambiguous To-Dos. In it, Amber Riviere says The intention for the time slot has not changed, but the outcome has. I [...]

  3. Samuel Driessen Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    I try to apply Getting things done as much as possible. I keep my tasks in Outlook, but make a print-out every so often and take that with me. If new tasks/ideas pop up I write them down and type them in Outlook tasks after a couple of days. I describe my task in ‘next actions’ as GTD advises you to do. This works for me.

  4. Sharon Anderson Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    C.J. Hayden’s Get Clients Now contains a helpful Action Worksheet (for selecting goals and actions towards the goals) and a tracking sheet for monitoring actions on a daily basis. I find both helpful as “marketing” used to be something I knew I needed to do regularly but wasn’t sure what that meant on a daily basis. Now items like “post to blog” or “add a tip sheet to website” are more specific actions on my weekly to do list.

  5. This is really great tips and i think people who want to succeed in their career and business,would love reading this blog as I enjoyed it.

  6. I use a combination of a spreadsheet and Outlook. I list every long-running project on the spreadsheet and each step necessary for completion. In Outlook, I have only the next step as a to-do list.

  7. Resume Objectives Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    These are the great tips.Thanks for sharing these supportive information with us.It is really a tuff job handle another career when you are in different field.but you have helped us a lot. said syeds.

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