In June I achieved something incredible. It happened again in July and I looking forward to it happening again in August.
What was this incredible thing you are probably wondering? Well, you’d better sit down before I tell you…Ready?
The incredible thing I achieved was that I completed everything on my To-do list. Yes, the whole darn list was obliterated during the course of just one day in June; a further day in July saw the back of another lengthy list, and I am just about to sort out a day before the end of August to clear another weighty list of tasks.
I do hope I haven’t underwhelmed you! Why is this so incredible, you might be thinking? If you are a very busy person with lots of balls being juggled daily (work, family, exercise, friends, etc) you will probably be a list person; that is, someone who writes down everything that needs to be done for fear of (a) forgetting about them (b) losing sight of the deadline or (c) never getting round to do things that aren’t screaming for attention right now!
But if you are like me, the list can get longer and longer as I carry over the tasks that aren’t completed. These tasks creep into to the following day, then the following week, and then a whole load of tasks get carried into the next month. There is a horrible ‘weight’ that occupies space in your head around unfinished tasks and ‘all the things that still need to be done’. Clearing a list is hugely liberating and motivating!
Using a To-do list will significantly increase the chances of you remembering to finish jobs or work tasks on or before the date and time needed, but recently I have been finding that the list alone isn’t enough to ensure that I am as productive as I could be. Then I heard about Action Days.
Action Days are days when you pair up with a accountability partner and keep in touch throughout the day to report on progress. It starts at an agreed time (for my partner and me this was 9.00) when we made contact by phone, exchanged a few pleasantries before telling each other what we would be aiming to complete over the next hour. We then spoke on the phone an hour later to check progress and set the new goal for the ensuing hour, and so on. This went on until 5pm.
The results? The first time I tried this approach I did so with a fair amount of scepticism. ‘Won’t the hourly phone call disturb my flow?’ I wondered. ‘Will I really achieve that much more just because I have someone checking in each hour with me?’. Well the answer to the first question is no, the hourly phone call did not disturb my flow. Instead it helped me to create neat packages of defined times which to work on a task. I had 1 hour, no more no less. The answer to the second question was yes, I did achieve significantly more due to having someone checking in with me each hour. It wasn’t like I was scared or anything, more that I had made the commitment to myself as well as someone else, and it worked a complete treat!
Organising my day into 1 hour packages of time made me much better at estimating how long things would take. I quickly spotted when I was over-estimating the time needed for some smaller tasks, whilst larger tasks were best approached by being split into smaller 1 hour chunks.
If you want it have an incredible day of productivity and clear your To-do list then I fully recommend an Action Day of Accountability. You can download my step by step guide on how to do an Action Day at the bottom of this post. Have a go and let me know how you get on!