Want to accomplish more?

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.
William James
1842 – 1910

One of the major complaints I hear from people is that they can never get their to-do list whittled down. They have great intentions, but somehow time slips away and they never finish the tasks they planned to do. Well, I’m going to tell you about a technique which will greatly improve your chances of getting things done.

Before I share the technique, I want to tell you about a couple of experiments Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz discussed in their book, The Power of Full Engagement.

The first experiment involved two groups of women who were instructed to do a breast self-exam within the next thirty days. Each woman in one group was asked to provide a specific day and time when she would conduct a self-exam. The other group was simply asked to complete the exam within the next thirty days.

The results were very interesting. Participation was almost perfect among the women who were asked to set a specific day and time; nearly 100% carried out the exam. In contrast, only 53% of the women who were asked to simply do the exam in the next thirty days actually performed the procedure.

Another experiment involved a group of drug addicts undergoing treatment. It would be difficult to imagine a more stressed group of people than ones in the throes of withdrawal. As part of their rehabilitation, the addicts were asked to write a short employment resume. Again, participants were divided into two groups. One group was asked to write the resume by 5 pm. The other group was asked what time they were going to write the resume. None of the first group completed the task, but in the group that had set a specific time, 80% finished the assignment.

If you have something you really want to accomplish, don’t just put it on your to-do list. Commit to a specific date, time, and place as well as any other details relevant to the task. You’ll greatly improve the odds of actually getting it done.

As the authors of the book point out, the reason has to do with our capacity for conscious self-control, which consumes lots of energy and easily depletes our willpower. Once we set a specific time and place for doing an activity, we no longer have to think about it.

If you really want to accomplish more, set specific dates, times and places for actually doing the job. That one simple step works wonders.

What may be done at any time will be done at no time.
Scottish proverb

Copyright © 2019 John Chancellor

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