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10 Questions That Will Improve Results in Any Area

10 Questions That Will Improve Results in Any Area

The only foolish question is the one that was never asked!

When you begin any project, are trying to make a change in your life, or are faced with a difficult undertaking, the best way to improve your result is to ask the important questions first. If you are working as part of a team, some questions may need to be asked of others. When working towards an individual goal, you will be the one giving the answers.

Ask, ask, ask — until you’re confident that you have a firm understanding. Don’t wait until you’re stuck and spinning your wheels. Ask the questions and find the answers first!

Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers. – Anthony Robbins

So what are some quality quetions you should be asking?

1. Why am I doing this?

It’s important to understand the reason behind anything you undertake. Whether it’s a goal, task, habit, or project, “why am I doing this?” should be the first question you ask yourself. Understanding the reason behind the actions can be a tremendous motivator.

2. What is the desired outcome?

Without being clear about the desired result, you can’t plan how to get there. Identify what you’re trying to accomplish and exactly what that will look like. Clarity is key. Vague targets are rarely attained. Defined and tangible objectives have much greater success.

3. When is the deadline and are there periodic checkpoints?

Know when the action or project needs to be complete. Be aware of any phases or interim deadlines along the way. If you know how much time you have to work with, you can better plan backwards and set aside the necessary amount of time.

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4. What is my role?

Understanding your role is crucial. Are you the leader or a worker bee? Are you a researcher or a communicator? Are you a team coordinator or planner? It’s important to know which role you play so you can align your actions. If it is an individual undertaking, then you are most likely all of the above.

5. Who is responsible or accountable for which tasks or projects?

This is related your role, but in a more specific and tangible way. Determine which specific tasks you are personally responsible for. Know who maintains accountability. Perhaps you are the one whom others are accountable. Define your responsibilities.

6. Do I have metrics or some form of measurement?

Establish a measurement of success, so that progress can be determined. If metrics are set by someone else, know what they are and if there is any flexibility.

7. What are the possible roadblocks or obstacles?

We almost always encounter snags along the way to completion. However, difficulties can more easily be overcome if we can prepare for them. It’s not always possible to prepare, complications by their very nature, are frequently unforeseen, but if you at least try to anticipate potential setbacks, they can often be resolved quickly.

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8. What are the available resources?

Be aware of what resources are available. Be cognizant of the number of people involved or accessible to you and their skills. Be honest about the amount of time that can be committed. Also, understand if there are financial constraints.

9. How important is this project or task?

The importance of any goal or project determines how much attention and effort it deserves. Higher priority items get moved to the top of the list, while less crucial tasks can often be pushed back. If a project affects the profitability of a business or the health and well-being of an individual, it usually gets top priority.

10. What can I do to be more effective?

Develop strategies to help you be more efficient and productive. Improve the quality of your work by utilizing useful and  effective tools. Better organizational skills greatly enhance effectiveness. Learn to be resourceful.

Better Results

Asking questions is a valuable tool in every area of business and life. This often-overlooked strategy can make the difference between success and failure.

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When we get clear about what we are trying to accomplish and why, we have a much better chance of attaining the desired result. Likewise, when we align our actions with what is expected of us, we can better meet our responsibilities.

Finally, if we plan and prepare we can best utilize the skills and resources available to us to achieve the most success.

Featured photo credit: Aaron Burden via unsplash.com

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Royale Scuderi

A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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