5 Tips to Supercharge Action and Personal Improvement
Talk is cheap. You probably already intuitively know the ones who talk the most about how busy they are are actually wasting time complaining.
Are you among the big talkers? Hopefully not, but you may inadvertently find yourself amongst the ranks of another group of equally unproductive folks -- the overly action oriented. These are the entrepreneurs who churn and burn through their days in a way that wastes energy and who seem to resemble the Tasmanian Devil.
It’s not about being busy, or talking about how busy you are. It’s about deliberate, thought-out actions that advance you toward your goals. Here are five tips to supercharge the right kind of action:
1. Batch time for thinking.
“The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do.” -- Dennis Waitley
The first step is all about inaction, or at least physical inaction. This is not about doing but scheduling uninterrupted time each day to plot out how you want the time ahead of you to go. What would be big wins for the day, both for your business, your health and your personal life?
Don’t be tempted into thinking you don’t have time for idea generation and planning. This is a crucial step that will help you correctly plot your actions and intentions for the day ahead. It should motivate you if you’re prone to procrastination and will help rein in your mind.
2. Schedule time for action.
"The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today.” -- Nolan Bushnell
Just as important as plotting your days is going out and executing your plans. You need to have a map of where your day is going, but if you want to find yourself at a different place at the end of today than when you woke up, you’ll need to take the first steps. This is where you put time in your calendar to get stuff done.
Scheduled action time does not include meetings, but rather is the time you schedule for productive action: the proposal you need to write, the patent you need to tinker with or the meeting you need to arrange with an investor.
3. Create lists.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -- Stephen Covey
Having an organized schedule saves time, and saved time means better actions. This is an often overlooked aspect of super productive people, but an organized list can go a long way for making your actions epic. Some prefer a pen and paper, while others might opt for apps such as Remember the Milk or Todoist. Whatever tactic you prefer, start using lists now for better productivity.
4. Find a mentor.
"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." -- Benjamin Disraeli
If you’re having trouble with the bigger picture of how to sustain action over time, consider finding a mentor. A mentor can really help you with clarifying your way forward, as well as providing the occasional kick in the pants you need if you’re procrastinating or slipping. Mentors are one of the best keys to great success.
5. Plan evaluations.
“It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?” -- Henry David Thoreau
Just like the corporate world schedules performance evaluations, you should be planning personal evaluations to make sure you’re staying on course. These are great checkpoints to ensure you hold yourself accountable for the success you want, as well as acknowledge the progress you’re making each year.
Typically, bi-annual reviews are a good benchmark to be effective, but allow for self-correction if things are going awry. If you have a mentor, he or she can be the most powerful tool in your toolbox for helping you stick to a schedule to ensure your improvement.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.