Are you struggling with loads of tasks on your list? Are you overwhelmed with distractions coming to you both online and offline? Would you like a chance to move forward with that project which you’re sure will add to your bottom line?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, I have some good news for you! In this post, I present a simple system you can use in your own life to get the results you want and move closer to your goals.
Let’s call this small system…
Take Action Now! (TAN!)
Here are the steps to help you take action and make sure you move closer to completing your projects and goals:
1. Know your ‘why’
First and foremost, do you really need to take action in the first place? You should always know the ‘why’ behind a task because that gives you the motivation to take action.
When you have a task to take care of, here are the possible options to deal with it:
- Yes, I have to do it -> Take care of it as soon as possible
- No, and in fact, I don’t know why this task exists -> Ignore it
- Yes, I have to do it, but I don’t want to do it myself -> Outsource it or delegate it
- Yes, I have to do it, but I don’t want to do it myself, nor can I outsource or delegate it -> In this case, your options are to either go ahead and do it or ignore it.
2. Gather and Collect
Make sure to collect each and every idea, thought, and action that crosses your mind, comes up in conversation, come to you through e-mail, or otherwise exists through any other type of input.
- Write down your thoughts and ideas when you are working. Keep a distraction list to record your thoughts.
- Clean your e-mail inbox twice per day and extract the tasks you still need to accomplish to either your distraction list or to your task list.
- Take active notes when talking with someone. Jot down records on your phone, put reminders in it, or use Drop Area to collect your potential tasks.
- Process all items from different sources once or twice per day. Figure out if you can act on smaller items immediately. If that is not an option, find a time when you can deal with multiple smaller items at once by batching them.
One additional option, especially when “admin” work is concerned, is to handle all smaller tasks on dedicated days.
This is what Stever Robbins mentioned in his excellent book “Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More”. I’m about to put this strategy to use very soon and see how well it works for me.
3. Plan it and schedule it
Go through the inputs in step #2 and create a task list that you can execute the next day. If the next day is not possible, schedule the tasks for a later date.
4. Commit to doing the tasks
If you went through the test in step #1 and came to the conclusion that you’ll take care of the task, actually commit to doing it.
Sometimes a task, no matter how simple it may look, may contain parts which you don’t want to do and thus may lead to procrastination.
For instance, when our sauna’s glass door exploded last year, the process of getting a new door contained some mundane paperwork which just had to be done.
If I wanted to get the money from the insurance company and have a new door installed, I had to commit to finishing the task.
5. Finish at once
Image source: Ian Sane
This is related to step #4, and I actually learned this valuable lesson during sauna door incident.
The more you procrastinate, the more likely the Zeigarnik Effect will kick in, reminding you of the unfinished work.
Instead of just thinking about the task, go ahead and finish it at once so you can move forward. Don’t spend your mental energy worrying about something you can fix right now.
6. Don’t do half-assed work
When you decide to take action, take the task seriously. Finish it so that you can be proud of it and don’t have to go back to it later.
Although perfection is overrated, it’s not an excuse to produce low-quality results.
Create a checklist of different points (criteria) which you have to meet in order to declare the task finished. Once the steps are done, you can feel satisfaction in having finished it and move on.
7. Give room for the important
Understand the projects which make the biggest difference in your life and business. Honor them by giving them the majority of your time and make them “VIPs”.
For instance, when I was writing my book, all the less-important stuff had to go until it was completed.
8. Block the time and become unavailable
9. Prefer phone over e-mail
Image source: Nanagyei
I know that this is a tough one for many. Heck, I’m an introvert and thus I used to prefer sending e-mails instead of calling someone. Not anymore.
I realized that calling someone moves things forward much faster, so nowadays I just pick up the phone if necessary. If you think that you’re not capable of doing this, figure out what the worst thing is that could happen to you if you called.
In many situations, I realized that my fears were silly, and everything went fine when I made the call. Besides, I felt relieved and my confidence grew since I made progress with the task or it was fully taken care of.
10. Be proactive
You can make your action-taking much more effective if you prepare your tasks and events in advance. This way, you can get started right away and don’t waste time on pondering things.
It’s obviously impossible to be prepared for everything, but make a habit of preparing at least those things which you are in control of. For instance, if I’m writing a blog post, I make sure that I create the outline in advance so that I can get to writing much faster.
A little bit of preparation can give you a great head start in your tasks and you’ll notice that you’re finishing work much faster.
Image source: Roo Reynolds
So you stumbled upon this certain issue and you are stuck. In that case you have two ways to proceed:
- Keep pondering the issue yourself
- Ask for someone to help you
It very easy to see which route is faster way to accomplish your task – it’s the option B. Unfortunately it’s very easy to keep yourself stuck with not asking help.
Part of taking action now system is making instant progress, so make a decision to ask help as soon as possible if you feel stuck. This helps you to make progress on whichever task you are working on.
Pondering yourself about the issue bring little to none additional value and in most of the cases you are just wasting your time.
12. Wake up earlier
All I’m saying that by waking up even 30 minutes earlier, you can include certain components in your life that make you more productive and energized.
With that extra time you could:
- Read a book
- Have an easygoing morning with your family
- Plan your day
Waking up earlier makes your day more fulfilling and pleasant. Just make sure to reflect this change in your bed-going times as well.
13. Take breaks
Taking action is fine. Getting results is fine. Yet sometimes it’s not enough.
Make sure that you still break from your regular working sessions by giving yourself a breather every once in a while.
Additionally, according to a study, taking breaks helps improve your focus and therefore your productivity.
So what should you do during your break? Try some of these:
- Do something physical and stand up. Stretch a bit or take a quick walk.
- Drink some water and eat a healthy snack.
- Get some fresh air or, if possible, open the window.
These are some ways to break up your working sessions. The main point is to get up and do something other than just sit at your computer all day.
14. Take some time off
Now you can take action and move things forward, but it’s also important to understand one more thing: Life isn’t just task lists and executing stuff.
It’s more than preferable to just relax, spend time with your family, and give yourself some time off.
Really be present with your family and do fun stuff together. Read a book without worrying about the time. Rent a movie. Go to a restaurant with your spouse and have a good time.
This makes your life balanced and less stressful, and eventually you’ll be ready to get back to work with your batteries fully recharged.
So here we go, a small system called TAN! in action. Make sure to test it and see how well it works for you. If it doesn’t, then make your own adjustments as needed.
I’m using this system myself and it really moves things forward. Oh boy, do I just love the fact that I’m getting results and knowing that I’m a bit closer to my goals! :)