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FAD: File, Action, Delete. Make Your Goals Happen.

FAD: File, Action, Delete. Make Your Goals Happen.

It is almost June and the question on my mind is whether or not I can really enjoy my holidays because my goals are on track. The summer sun is calling us outside while those in the Southern Hemisphere are snuggling up for winter. I always feel a sense of urgency around this time of year; the clock is ticking and I realise that I only have half the amount of time left to complete all the goals I set at the start of the year. Items on the to-do list need to be crossed off and I need to make revisions to actions that have not been achieving the desired results.

Summer holiday unplugging brings with it a revival in my thinking. My creative inclinations start blooming again, and ideas and plans start taking shape. Reflection is important during this period: looking back, looking forward and taking decided action. Knowing how to take decided action is key.

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My creative inclinations start blooming again.

Firstly, I do a brain dump of all the goals I am working on and all the new ideas that are swirling in my mind. I also bring my master list to the exercise. I then use the File, Action, Delete method to take action:

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File:

There are a number of reasons to file items from both my master list and my new ideas list:

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  • I will only need to take action at a later date.
  • I can only take action when I have completed another task.
  • I am waiting for someone else to get back to me about something.
  • I am still planning the action or gathering information about it.
  • I need to oversee activity related to the item but I am not directly involved.
  • I will ‘file’ these items by scheduling them into my calendar so that I remember to follow up on them. When the allotted date comes up, I will then either move the item into the action category or I will delete it.

Action:

Items can be actioned when:

  • I need to take action immediately in order to progress the activity.
  • All tasks that needed to be completed prior to this item are complete.
  • I am not waiting for anyone to provide further information or input on the item.
  • All research and planning around the item are complete.
  • There is a deadline attached to the item.
  • I action these items by immediately taking the next step that is required to progress the goal to its next phase. If there are too many items to action on the spot, I schedule them into my calendar over the next couple of weeks. If an items has been actioned immediately it also gets deleted from the lists.

Delete:

Items can be deleted when:

  • There is no longer a need to complete the item.
  • The item has passed its due date.
  • The item was an idea that never came to fruition.
  • The item requires action from someone else and is not related to you.
  • The item no longer interests you at all.
  • The item was actioned or filed.
  • The FAD method is versatile and can be applied to many areas of work and life. For example, it can be used to clear out an inbox. It can be used to clear out cupboards or storage spaces (with some modification to the language of course: store, use or throw out). It can also be applied to specific projects and their multiple action items. It can be applied to company restructuring when reviewing processes. It can be applied to a personal training regime.

There are many benefits to using the FAD method but I find the following three to be the greatest::

  • A continual sense that my goals and master list are achievable.
  • A very clear focus on what is most important, right now.
  • A sense of regularly de-cluttering which means I do not feel mentally burdened.

Have you used the FAD method before? Where can you see this method being applied in your work and life?

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More by this author

FAD: File, Action, Delete. Make Your Goals Happen. The Ultimate Productivity Tool: Why I Have to Test It in 2013 A List with a Twist: The Gift for the Person Who Has it All The Power Of The Master List

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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