Success Agenda: Getting the right things done

If you don’t decide how your day will be spent, someone else will.

John Maxwell.

When you really get down to it, life is pretty simple. We make it difficult, so difficult!

What you focus on matters. What you do matters. Whether it’s at work, at home, at church, or at play, your priorities make a difference. To you, your family and to others around you.

Most of us put out fires most of the day. In other words, rather than being proactive with our lives and plans, we become first-responders to other people’s seeming crises and pop-up mini-emergencies or dilemmas. Distractions, mind-wandering, and even well-meaning people will take up your time, and you find when the day is done, nothing is done. Been there?

Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.

Stephen Covey.

Many years ago, I developed a simple tool for me and my sales team that I had stored away and forgotten. Yes, yes, I don’t use it anymore, except in a crude sense. But it’s time to bring it out and dust it off!

When I developed the Success Agenda, it was something I used daily. And I urged my team and others to use it as well. It was simple, it was easy to use, and it worked. It was productive, and we could “see” where we had been. Not in some elaborate spreadsheet scheme, but in a real, down-to-earth form.

Too often, we think things are important, but they aren’t. At least not as an emergency or as a priority. They take up our time, our energies and our resources. And, we have nothing left for the essential things, the things that must be done and must be done with excellence and quality.

Too often, we think things are important, but they aren’t. At least not as an emergency or as a priority. They take up our time, our energies and our resources. And, we have nothing left for the essential things, the things that must be done and must be done with excellence and quality.

It’s sorta like the clothes that sit in the back of our closets for months and even years. They’re good clothes, some expensive, and we just know that one day we’ll either lose a few pounds or they’ll come back in style. It’s the same with things on our lists. Things that sit there on the list for six months and we know we want to get them done, but never do. Maybe, just maybe, we need to move those things off our lists and focus on the essential stuff!

But the Success Agenda is more than just making a list. It’s more than a honey-do or a rubber-band-around-your-finger reminder. It’s designed to get ‘er done! And it will help you focus on the critical things and deal with those less-significant distractions that keep dominating your mind.

Oh, yes, one critical note: The Success Agenda is all about today. It doesn’t focus on yesterday and won’t let you move into tomorrow just yet.

So, here’s how it works. Simply prioritize the things you want to get done today. The items you must get done, those with a deadline. It works at home, at work or at play.

Ladies, if making a grocery list is vital for today, it goes on the list. If you have laundry to do and it must get done today, write ‘er down. Planting that garden may can wait until next week or next month, but perhaps putting a list together that you’ll need to order for the garden moves up the list.

Guys, what is it that you must get done today. Mow the grass, change the oil in the car or is there another project that needs to occupy the top spot?

No matter how you fill out the list, follow it strictly. For things like phone calls with friends, checking email, exercise, schedule it out. Say “I’ll check and respond to email between 1 and 2”. Or, “…exercise happens from 9 to 10.” But nothing takes priority over your Success Agenda. Nothing, of course, unless the house burns down or a true emergency erupts.

But you decide what constitutes an emergency. Unfortunately, we have taught ourselves that we must respond to the smallest of fires, so it will take some retraining and some discipline.

But you decide what constitutes an emergency. Unfortunately, we have taught ourselves that we must respond to the smallest of fires, so it will take some retraining and some discipline.

You have the power to schedule your day. It’s okay to tell someone you’ll call them back at 6 tonight, or even tomorrow. And, most people aren’t expecting you to stop what you’re doing to respond to their email. And, believe me, no one is holding their breath for your comment on Facebook!

And, remember: “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Why should you upset your schedule and replace it with someone else’s agenda simply because they believe it’s an emergency. Sure, you can assess the situation, and if it does demand your immediate attention, attend to it within your guidelines (e.g. time, place, etc.). Otherwise, don’t get sidetracked.

The Success Agenda is more than just a list. It’s a way to stay on track, today, tomorrow and next week. Things can either work their way up on your Agenda or work themselves off into the trash can.

What you focus on makes a difference. Push the distractions away, keep your eyes on what matters and watch your life turn from frustration to success.

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