Scrap The To Do List & Use Goal Action Items
It’s soon to be the start of a New Year. Well, according to the Christian calendar. Aside from the technicalities, this version of the Calendar is the one we are working with for the purpose of this post.
2017 will be a time of new experiences and unexpected developments in our lives, and like always, there is an element of forecasting that we can and cannot predict.
There is no need to focus on what is out of our control.
So while it’s December, it’s a time in which we turn to the manage pieces. We plan for what we believe is in our control, and ultimately New Year’s Resolutions will be imagined, discussed, and hopefully implemented.
How long these last is not the objective of this article. Instead, we will look at a strategy that can be used going forward and that will make your 2017 your best yet.
It starts by being aware of a notion:
Did you know that your to do list could be preventing you from achieving your goal; be it in Fitness, Business Health or in Life?
That’s why at Shirt and Tie Fitness, our 2017 New Year’s Resolution is to scrap writing a to do list. Indefinitely. We suggest you do to, and here’s why:
A New Year’s Resolution is ultimately a fancy term for a tradition that sets goals or outlines an ambition. It is often the case in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement.
This is to be achieved, in what is perceived to be an entirely new environment – a fresh start, a beginning if you will. Whilst there is no reason as to why it is more likely to succeed, it is often implemented at this time to help focus on the task at hand. And if it provides somewhat of a benchmark to compare against, and that it follows a well-rested Christmas period, let’s not fight it and view it as an opportunity for change.
Quite rightly, New Year’s Resolutions are often long-term focused, perhaps with a deadline (by the end of 2017 is quite common).
But people often get stuck. They may not even start on their resolution, or become confused or overwhelmed. They may fall off the bandwagon when external motivation ultimately falls by the wayside. And it will; internal motivation is the only real tie but I digress.
These Resolutions fail for the simple reason that: there are too many things to do or complete, there is not enough substance behind the ambition, or there is a lack of enthusiasm from the very start.
Many do not actually realise what they really need to do or what is actually involved from the very beginning.
To tackle these common culprits, Daily to-do lists are often written and are a mainstay for many to force their productivity.
And to-do lists DO make sense logically; a goal should always be broken down into more simple manageable chunks with specificity. But to-do lists are NOT the way or the answer.
These lists are often overwhelming, large and vague. They are not specific enough to achieve the goal at hand.
As Office Workers, let’s use a hypothetical Daily Task as an example:
A line of a to-do List may read: “Create a Status Summary Dashboard for Project ‘X’.
|Review Success of Project ‘X’||Create a Status Summary Dashboard|
But in Business, the variables at play can include, but are not limited to: Customers, Marketing, Employees, Investment, Cost, Manufactures or other External Parties.
Each item would be worthy of ending up on the Dashboard, and each provide tangible KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) of the results of Project X. But none are addressed specifically on the to-do list, and therefore the likelihood of them reaching the dashboard is HIGHLY unlikely.
Instead, of his big to do list, if the employee eliminated this entirely and replaced with an Action Item List for just Project X the end result would be far more effective.
This Item List would provide what is actually required to hit the goal; the goal being a representative Dashboard of Project X.
So, turning back to our Dashboard example, a line item on the Action List could look something like:
Create a Pie Chart of Current Customers on Project X; by Department, Country, Region.
Further Actions can also be assigned:
|Goal||Action Item||Further Actions|
|Review Success of Project ‘X’||Create a Pie Chart of Current Customers on Project X; by Department||Collect Department Stats|
|Create a Pie Chart of Current Customers on Project X; by Country||Collect Country Stats|
|Create a Pie Chart of Current Customers on Project X; by Region||Collect Region Stats|
Moreover, by removing the to-do list, and focusing on goal-accomplishment items, instead of having no sequencing, you would have 3 or 4 things progressive things to do.Look at the specificity here; the method to help create the Dashboard can be seen (Pie Chart) along with what will be required in terms of data (Department, Country, Region). It can also be inferred that customers will be compared, and from there, the most successful customers can be observed.
This way, it feels far more approachable and manageable. You would actually be able to make progress against your goals instead of just ticking off ‘things to do’.
Anytime a goal is vague, the success of the goal suffers. Time is spent being busy, as opposed to being productive.
Now, if we were to turn to Fitness for another example.
If the 2017 News Years Resolution and goal were to get in shape, the to-do list could include: Read more fitness books, buy a juicer etc.
|By End of 2017||Get In Shape||Read Fitness Books|
|Buy a Juicer|
Will these items actually lead you to reaching the fitness goal? Probably not.
By sitting inside reading all day, whilst it would help the knowledge of what to do, it wouldn’t ultimately lead to the individual losing weight/gaining muscle. It would be ELSEWHERE these results would be obtained. These items are therefore just fluff, keeping you busy and distracted.
It’s not about being busy; it’s about being productive on what is important.
To-do lists confuse; they lead you into believing you are making progress or that something should be worked on. They delude the owner into thinking they are accomplishing.
If instead you have a goal, then what items lead to the accomplishment of that goal and why are you doing anything else at all becomes apparent.
The more specific the goal the better. A 2 week goal for example would enable you to see the variables and track, monitor, tweak and amend. The focus would be placed on the right areas, calories could be adjusted or activity levels if weight was being gained or lost too quickly.
Going further, the most effective way to go after a goal would be to break it down into even smaller goals.
The Fitness New Year’s Resolution/Goal example transition could look like the following:
|Timeline||Goal||Action Item||Secondary Action Item|
|Revised New Year’s Resolution||To Achieve By March||Gain 2 Pounds of Muscle||Full-Body Workout 3x a Week||Calorie Surplus @ +500 Kcals a day|
|To Achieve By June||Lose 2 Pounds of Fat||Add HIIT Exercise 2x Per Week||Calorie Surplus @ -250 Kcals a day|
First some muscle would need to be built this is goal number 1. Thereafter the focus can shift to the secondary objective, to lose fat to show the muscle that has been built. Both gain muscle, and lose fat fall under the umbrella of getting in shape. But by framing and reorganizing a to-do list in this way, to a goal list, enables both to be achieved. The first goal should always be tackled first, so to get in shape would require 2 steps:
Practical steps and actions are also available. What moves the needle is evident, and prioritizing further comes to the fore. The exact things to reach the goal are listed, and the chance of success is ultimately amplified.
So scrap buying that new 2017 to-do list notebook in the January sales.
Instead use the rest of December wisely and appropriately; think of your New Year’s Resolution with this new framework and consider the goal in its entirety. What is to be achieved, by when, how will this be achieved.
Your 2017 success depends on it.