“Follow effective actions with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – Peter Drucker
Anytime I’ve taken the time to really think through a project before I begin working on it, the more effective I am. It took me a long time to realize the wisdom in this. I, like a lot of my colleagues, would just jump in and get working only to find out we wasted time, missed critical steps, or hit the wrong target.
This quote offers a simple truth: Anything we create is first created in our mind, then brought into reality. I accomplish this kind of work by thinking about what I want to do. Then, I take some time to research, investigate, inquire about what it will take to accomplish a certain goal. Most of the time, someone else has already done this. So, it makes sense to look at what steps they took and then use this as a model for my own projects. Obviously, there may be some unique steps you need to incorporate to accomplish your specific goals but always remain open to other people’s experiences. They may offer a way to do something that helps avoid problems they already experienced.
This idea was reinforced by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free productivity. He talks about the natural planning model, which looks like this:
- Defining Purpose and Principles
- Outcome visioning
- Identifying Next Actions
Each of these steps is natural to the way we create things. We first develop an idea and begin thinking about how that idea would look in our reality. We then brainstorm and research all of the things we need to do to make our idea a real thing. We then organize the actions we uncover during our research and brainstorming and then begin working through these actions in the form of next actions.
The real challenge in using this model or way of working is to take the time to really reflect. What do we want? How do we get what we want? Take your time. Think. Then execute. After you begin executing the action steps you’ve devised, you’ll begin to realize some gaps or the need for further action steps, particularly if this is something you’ve never done before. That’s ok. The key is to reflect each day on what we did yesterday, plan what we will do tomorrow, and execute.
Planning becomes easier when we learn the length of time it takes to do something, it also helps us figure out what is really important for the next day and helps us complete things in the order we’ve set them to be executed. Take some time at the end of your day or at the beginning of your day to choose which action steps you’ll take and then get them on your calendar, keeping in mind all of the other commitments you have made (dentist appointments, gym time, etc.). Once you have your plan in place, just knock out the steps. Then do the same thing the next day.
David Allen defines a project as a task which contains more than one step to accomplish. Subsequently, you probably have a lot more projects to accomplish than you would initially think. Take the time to brainstorm each of these projects. What do you need to do first? What do you need to do next? What other steps need to be added based on your current activities? Take the time to think through all of these things and you’ll get closer and closer to your goals much sooner and in a more organized fashion. You’ll also capture the things you learned along the way, so if you ever tackle this type of project again, you’ll have a much easier time knocking that one off of your to-do list the next time around.
Well, that’s it for today, folks. I hope you have a great Wednesday!
Until next time.