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How to Take Smart and Massive Action in 6 Simple Steps

How to Take Smart and Massive Action in 6 Simple Steps
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    Every now and then you hear someone saying, “You need to take massive action in order to get stuff done”. While this type of work is something you should strive for, it has also flaws if you follow the advice blindly.

    In fact, I’m willing to say that working like this can actually make you procrastinate and burn your energy levels to zero on the long run, if you don’t pay close attention to what you are doing.

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    Massive action defined

    Let’s first define the term “massive action”. In my understanding it means taking many big and focused action steps at once that can bring you big results in return.

    For example, you could be writing a book. Instead of getting 3 pages ready in a day, you set yourself a goal to write 10 pages instead.

    When you keep working like this, the benefit is obvious; you finish your tasks or projects faster and can move
    quickly  onto other projects.

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    The downside of taking massive action

    The big problem with taking massive action is that if you are taking action for action’s sake, you are going to burn out fast. You are just keeping yourself busy, but you are not getting meaningful things done.

    For instance, you could be promoting your latest blog post by posting it to hundreds of social bookmarking sites out there. Sure, you are taking massive action, but are you getting any results? Are you focusing on your target audience or “just anyone out there”?

    Instead of taking massive action that way, shouldn’t you just focus on a handful of bookmarking sites that are related to your niche and where your target audience hangs out? Even if you just did this, the impact would be much bigger and you would be less-stressed. In addition, you would saved some time.

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    What are the benefits of taking action the smart way?

    Smart massive action means focus – it gives you the reason “why” (why am I taking action?). You are not just taking action, but you also know what that action relates to. The focus comes when you have set goals and when you take action that is related to those goals.

    Taking action the smart way can also be a motivational booster. When you act, you know you are not procrastinating and that improves your self-confidence. Also, when you take action the smart massive way, you see results faster, which make you take even more action.

    Finally, smart massive action means time savings and less stress. This is quite obvious, since you are focusing on very specific actions. The rest of the “stuff” can be dropped out and eliminated.

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    How do you take smart massive action?

    Now that we have looked at the differences between massive and smart massive action and the benefits of doing the things the smart way, let’s discuss how to put this theory into action.

    In order to take smart massive action, you can take the steps below. Don’t worry about the example I’m using and whether it’s realistic of not (I don’t know nothing about the dogs :). The main purpose is just to illustrate the action steps.

    1. Set your main goal you are trying to reach. The crucial part is to define the concrete goal(s) before taking any action. If you take action, know your “why”. This is your target that you are trying to reach when you take smart massive action. For example, if you are passionate about dog training, you could decide to become an authority in dog training market. You have decided to write a book on dog training, because that would increase your recognition amongst the dog lovers and enthusiasts.
    1. Set sub-goals and time limits. To keep you better on track, you need to split your big goal into sub-goals. This way you know your milestones you want to reach and you are able to see better if you are making steady progress. In this dog training example, you could decide that in order to complete your book, you to have the outline of the book ready in the next 7 days. The next sub-goal would be to have 4 chapters ready (of your 8 chapter book) in the next three weeks. The final 4 chapters would be written in the following 3 weeks after that, so the book writing would be completed in 6 weeks.
    1. Eliminate and outsource. One important part of taking smart massive action is to get rid of tasks that you shouldn’t be concerned of. This way, you are reducing the amount of “waste work” and you can focus on the essential tasks in your projects. You love to write, but graphic design is not your thing. Yet, you realize that you have to pay attention to this aspect in your book too, so you decide to outsource the design work. You also decide to outsource the proofreading part as well. (Note: To be even more specific on the dog training topic, you could decide to focus on Beagles only, so you are able to eliminate all the information that is not related to this breed.)
    1. Act! Now it’s time to take your smart massive action! This requires raw work. In fact, even in the situations of “work smart, not hard”, you still need to put some hours in even if you are focusing on the essential tasks only. This means just raw writing part. However, you don’t settle for finishing 3 pages per day, you decide to come up with 5 pages per day. Now you are truly taking smart massive action, because you are doing something that truly matters and relates to your goal. In order to make the writing part even more productive, you decide to use a timer and work in blocks to get more focused work done.
    1. Block some time, get rid of distractions and choose your location. To get more stuff done with less distraction, you have to figure out the times when to do the work, where to work and how to be the least distracted as possible. By doing these three things, you have a clear work structure in place and you are making sure that your action is not interrupted by something that could have been avoided with a little planning. You realize that the best writing times for you are between 06.00 AM and 10.00 AM in the morning and between 5 PM – 9 PM in the evening. You block the time off your calendar and let your spouse and kids know about this. It is quite obvious, that you mute your phone and disconnect from e-mail or instant messaging during the time you are working. In addition, you know that you are at your most productive in your work room during the working hours, so you “isolate” yourself there.
    1. Review your progress and adjust if needed. Once you start working, you may become blind to your work. This causes you to miss the bigger picture (your “why”) and you are doing things you shouldn’t be doing. To prevent this, you review your action steps and progress on a consistent basis (once again, block some time off your calendar). If necessary, you take corrective action that put you back on track. You come to realize that you have been able to produce only 2 pages for your book for a couple of days. You make a careful analysis and realize that you feel tired when you work. You decide to take some power naps but also get your nightly sleeping patterns improved for better alertness and productivity. This action puts you back on track and you feel much better when you do your work.

    As you can see, just taking massive action blindly is not going to take you anywhere. Instead, you should plan you actions a bit, so that you can get the best results in return.

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    When you take smart massive action, you are truly making progress on those things that matter.

    (Photo credit: Chess Player Playing via Shutterstock)

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    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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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)
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    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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