What DIDN'T I do today?

by Joel Young 14 replies
A quick tip for anyone who might find that to-do lists and writing down goals just doesn't work for them as well as people say. For me, those things have never actually motivated me. Usually they overwhelm me to the point of putting everything off until a more convenient time, and we all know how well that works. :rolleyes:

Don't get me wrong, I still have goals and to-do lists written down, but ever since early this year I've found something that does light a fire under me, so I want to share it with my fellow Warriors, in case someone else might find it useful as well.

My method: At the end of each day, I write down a list of what I didn't do that day.

Now, some might say that doing so is bad for positive thinking and good karma, but my purpose for keeping track of what I didn't do is to make me stop and think about how much time I wasted with other things. Again, not as a self-punishment device to make me feel bad, but a self-disciplinary one to help me see where I need to improve.

It forces me to think, "Why didn't I do this or that?" And usually it's because I allowed myself to get distracted by less important things, or things that really could have waited. And so then I ask myself, "What was it about this or that, that I didn't want to face, which made me do something else?" And by asking myself such questions, I can drill down to the core reason(s) that I avoided certain tasks.

You might ask why I simply don't carry over the unfinished tasks to the next day's list? Because that doesn't help me become more disciplined. How easy is it to just say to oneself, "meh, I'll just push this over to tomorrow and worry about it then"? Too easy! Those tasks were supposed to be done today, so I need to be accountable to myself as to why they weren't. Writing them down means being accountable, and taking responsibility for my inaction.

For years, whether IM related or not, to-do lists and writing down goals were, for me, just words on paper. They never seemed to have a pull on me; they're just reminders of what needs to be done.... someday. Maybe you are like that? If not, and I suspect most people aren't, then good for you! But if you are like me, perhaps using my method will help you. It certainly helped me, and I've been able to focus better than ever, and am seeing good results in my marketing efforts for the first time in a long time.
#main internet marketing discussion forum #today
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Joel,

    The strategy seems backward to me and I don't like how the day ends on a "downer". . . but hey, if it works for you . . . well . . . why not? Whatever it takes to get the job done. Right?

    My mom is from N.S. and she was weird too - liked to eat dulse. Yuk!

    The best to you,

    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author Jakeeck
      Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

      Joel,

      The strategy seems backward to me and I don't like how the day ends on a "downer". . . but hey, if it works for you . . . well . . . why not? Whatever it takes to get the job done. Right?

      My mom is from N.S. and she was weird too - liked to eat dulse. Yuk!

      The best to you,

      Steve
      I could see it working the other way around.. if i screw something up im usually motivated to make it right
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    • Profile picture of the author Joel Young
      Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

      My mom is from N.S. and she was weird too
      LOL! ...I'm from upstate NY originally, but I guess 27 years of being here has done strange things to me. It's the salt air. :p
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      • Profile picture of the author heavysm
        This is something I passively already do. I don't write it down but I passively think of things that still need to be done. For many this might be a downer reflecting over how your busied self couldn't get to certain things. But it helps keep me on my toes.

        This is the difference between between completing a set of goals and feeling happy that there's more to do amped up to get things done rather than realizing there's more to do and feeling down about what you didn't accomplish.

        Completely different mindsets IMO
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  • Profile picture of the author writeaway
    To me, it's all about COMFORT ZONES and persistence. http://www.warriorforum.com/mind-war...t-because.html
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  • Profile picture of the author Shenpen
    Originally Posted by Joel Young View Post

    ...It forces me to think, "Why didn't I do this or that?" And usually it's because I allowed myself to get distracted by less important things, or things that really could have waited. And so then I ask myself, "What was it about this or that, that I didn't want to face, which made me do something else?" And by asking myself such questions, I can drill down to the core reason(s) that I avoided certain tasks.
    I think what you suggest should work for most people, but in my humble oppinion not for the reasons that you mention. Making youself think about your lack of selfcontrol wont really matter much in either direction. But "negative psychology" is almost as underrated as "positive psychology" is overrated. The reason why this works has to do with the phenomenon of ego-depletion aka "decision fatigue".
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  • Profile picture of the author Moneymaker2012
    It appears that rather than completing many insignificant tasks, we should focus on one that is meaningful.
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    • Profile picture of the author Joel Young
      Originally Posted by Moneymaker2012 View Post

      It appears that rather than completing many insignificant tasks, we should focus on one that is meaningful.
      It's not always a case of having insignificant tasks on the list. People like me tend to avoid even the most important tasks. It's a flaw that some of us have, and need to work on. My way of dealing with it is off the beaten path, I admit, but it works for me.
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      • Profile picture of the author UnkwnUsr
        Originally Posted by Joel Young View Post

        It's not always a case of having insignificant tasks on the list. People like me tend to avoid even the most important tasks. It's a flaw that some of us have, and need to work on. My way of dealing with it is off the beaten path, I admit, but it works for me.
        Many times the most important tasks are also the ones that take more time to accomplish. Goals that need to be worked on over time like writing an eBook for example may never get done while small tasks that don't matter much are getting done everyday but not really helping the business grow. Sometimes we have to stop doing the "everyday" tasks so we can concentrate on the big picture stuff.
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      • Profile picture of the author HeySal
        Originally Posted by Joel Young View Post

        It's not always a case of having insignificant tasks on the list. People like me tend to avoid even the most important tasks. It's a flaw that some of us have, and need to work on. My way of dealing with it is off the beaten path, I admit, but it works for me.
        If it works for you, then it works for you. I don't like paperwork at all and do it only when necessary. As far as lists go, the only time I even write one is if I'm going shopping so I don't forget anything while I'm at the store.

        I've heard so much about having to write down goals. I've seen people so addicted to list building that they seem to never get anything done because they are always busy revising lists.

        To me, just writing down a flow chart on something and resource contacts for accomplishing what I have to to reach the goal is quite enough of it. It works for me. So anyone who wants to say "no, that's not the way you do it" is talking to themselves. Find what works for you. Do that. Pretty simple I would think.
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  • Profile picture of the author stallion1
    I use the Zen to Done method from Leo Babauta, it's very simple which is why I love it (e.g. writing down the 3 MITs - most important tasks of the day and focusing on them until they're completed
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  • Profile picture of the author Igor Fridrihs
    Hey,

    If you did not do anything today means the task was not for today to do. I try to outsource all the tasks that can be done by others. Productivity is much more better as a result.
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  • Profile picture of the author thedanbrown
    The whole point of being a business owner is to work on the strategy of your business not the day to day operations...
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  • Profile picture of the author isadoregregory
    that sounds like something that might actually work for a lot of people. it is like doing the opposite of a "to-do" list, which might just be quite fitting. assessing your progress at the end of the day and taking down notes of what you have not done will prepare you for what's in store for the next day! clever!
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