You can get more done with more ease by building seven effectiveness habits. Build them one at a time over the next several weeks and months. You need not, for the most part, build them in the order I present them.
Here’s today’s habit…
Effectiveness Habit #3: MOD It
With Effectiveness Habit #1: Get it Out of Your Head, you write down any current or potential “to do” so it doesn’t rattle about your head and take up what effectiveness guru David Allen calls your “psychic RAM.”
With the third habit, you transform your written mass of tasks, ideas, and potential tasks into something more useful.
Imagine a machine. It’s whirring and churning. At the top is a hopper filled with your mass of tasks etc. Coming out of the machine are your tasks, clarified and organized. The output is so good that you’ll be able to scan it and in seconds know what exactly is the best item for your to work on next.
What happens inside the machine? The tasks are MODded. That is, they are processed for meaning, outcomes, and doables. This is what you’ll do with your hopper of initially written but as yet unorganized tasks. These are the steps to use for each item in your hopper. It looks complex at first. I promise, though, it’s quite simple.
- Meaning – What is this particular item, actually, and what does it mean to me? Is it something to file for later use? Is it something to toss? Is it something I might do but not just now? Is it something for someone else to do? Or is it something for me to do soon? If it’s something for me to do soon, then take it to the next step, Outcome. Otherwise, file it, delegate it, throw it away, or put it on a “back burner” list as appropriate and move on to the next item in your hopper.
- Outcome – Can I accomplish this item in one step? If so, record it on a list of tasks that I can do soon (we’ll call this the list of doables). If no–if it will take multiple steps to complete–then record this item on a list of Outcomes [David Allen calls these projects. But if I called them projects, it’d mess up my acronym. 🙂 ] But first, decide and describe the desired outcome, i.e. what success will look like for this item. Example: an item called, “Paint the office” cannot typically be done in one step. So, I’ll record it on a list of on-going items called Outcomes and include this description of the desired outcome: “The office will be freshly painted in modern colors. It will be done cleanly and expertly. It will stay within the $5500 budget.”
- Doable – For the Outcome, decide what is the very next doable step on the way to achieving the outcome. It has to be something you can actually do. Example: for the “Paint the office” outcome, the very next doable step would NOT be, “Get quotes.” But “Call Karen to get the name and number of the firm that painted her office,” is a doable. Record this on your list of doables.
The outputs of this process are, effectively, several lists. The main 3 are doables, outcomes, back burner items. When complete, your mass of tasks etc. will be in a form that you can immediately start using. More on that in the next habit: Act Naturally.