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Twelve Steps to Get Things Done

Twelve Steps to Get Things Done

    No Frills Personal Development

    It’s become apparent that not everyone connects with, relates to or gains value from the traditional personal development language or paradigm. Or words like paradigm (for that matter). Many of my readers have shared with me that their partner (sister, brother, mother, father, boss) needs to hear these (types of) messages but they seem to have an aversion to anything that smells like ‘motivational speaker’. To be honest, I don’t blame them. Some motivational speakers are a little smelly.

    So, here it is team: my no frills, twelve-step, personal development philosophy for people who hate self-help stuff and cheesy motivational types. In order to avoid boredom, confusion and distraction, I’ve kept it simple and succinct.

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    Step 1. Don’t talk big. Big-talkers are notorious under do-ers, under-achievers and under-performers. They’re also pains in the arse.

    Step 2. Don’t wait for things to ‘work out’. Idiots wait for things to work out. Rather than hoping things will happen, make them happen.

    Step 3. Lose the bad attitude. Attitude is a choice. Better attitude equals better decisions, behaviours and outcomes.

    Step 4. Don’t eat crap. Being unhealthy on a physical level means you won’t function optimally on any level: mentally, emotionally, professionally or socially. Eat crap and you’ll look, feel and function like crap!

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    Step 5. Actually care about others. Being a self-centered idiot ain’t a recipe for success.

    Step 6. Don’t make life harder than it needs to be. Life’s challenging enough without you complicating the simple. Suck it up, Princess.

    Step 7. Do things early in the day. Being productive early puts you in a better place (mentally, emotionally and creatively) for the rest of the day.

    Step 8. Let go of your ill-conceived beliefs. It’s time to lose those self-limiting, disempowering beliefs. They’ve run your life for long enough. You’re good enough, talented enough and, yes, you deserve happiness.

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    Step 9. Bad things happen and life’s not fair – deal with it. More often than not success or failure will be determined by the way you react to the situations, circumstances and events (good and bad, foreseen or not) of your world. Better reactions equal better results.

    Step 10. Don’t focus on (or obsess about) things you can’t change. Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation. Invest your energy in the things you can control.

    Step 11. Don’t avoid things you fear. Putting your head in the sand just shows the world your arse. And none of us want that. Lasting change begins with awareness and acknowledgement. Step up and do what’s necessary.

    Step 12. Don’t over-think things. Analysis paralysis is a painful, pointless and unnecessary condition. To think is good. To obsess is bad. Stop obsessing.

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    There you have it, Grasshoppers: politically incorrect self-help. In fact, let’s not call it self-help, let’s call it… some free practical advice. Of course, some will be offended and bothered by this type of language and message but fortunately for me, I’ve learned to take criticism pretty well.

    You may want to attach (nail, staple, rivet, sew, glue) these twelve steps to the forehead of someone special. And then run.

    You’re welcome. =)

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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