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Got a Minute?

Steps 6 to 9

6. Choose One Task From Your List. Simplify again by choosing one task from your list. Focusing on one task at a time continues to channel your energy in a single direction. Cohen's one task: Get a facility.

7. Break Your Task Into 10-Minute Actions. By breaking down your task into a series of 10-minute actions, you're essentially creating steps so simple, there's no room for procrastination. You may not have time to write your entire brochure at once, but you can sit down and identify three ways consumers will benefit from your product.

Why 10 minutes? Because it is feasible--and you are more inclined to do something when it's likely you'll succeed.

By asking himself the following questions, Cohen was able to break down his task into 10-minute actions.

Q: Can I get a facility in 10 minutes?
A: No.

Q: What do I need to do before I can do that?
A: I need to look at some available buildings and see my options.

Q: Can I do that in 10 minutes?
A: No.

Q: What do I need to do before I can do that?
A: I need to find a commercial real estate agent.

Q: Can I do that in 10 minutes?
A: No, because I don't know any.

Q: What do I need to do before I can do that?
A: I need to look in the Yellow Pages or get a reference.

Q: Can I do that in 10 minutes?
A: Yes. I can call Jim who just re- located his business and ask for his agent's number.

8. Schedule Your 10-Minute Action. Schedule your 10-minute action for a concrete date and time, as you would any other appointment. It's easy to forget yet another to-do on your already long list, so write it down in your day planner, Palm Pilot or BlackBerry.

9. Take Action Without Fail. When your 10-minute action appointment rolls around, keep it! Keeping your agreement with yourself is as important as keeping one with your biggest client. It reinforces your integrity and commitment to your business. If there's a conflict you can't work around, reschedule for a date and time you can keep. Remember, you'll never have "enough" time, and you'll always have 100 things that need to be done yesterday.

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This article was originally published in the September 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Got a Minute?.

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