Tasks vs. Results

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I write down action items every day to help me achieve my goals. One thing that I recently realized is that when possible, it’s better to list results instead of tasks.

I remember a few years back when I was looking for a job, one of my daily tasks was “send out 10 resumes.” Looking back, I now realize that I would have reached my goal quicker had my daily objective been “make contact with at least one recruiter or hiring manager.” After all, it took me less than an hour to go through the various job posting web sites, identify 10 or more positions, modify my resume & cover letter and hit the submit button. To actually connect with someone, it would have taken me almost all day.


Painless Time Management

Wouldn’t be great if you could get an extra hour or two of productive work done each day? Forget about cutting your sleep back to three hours a night (trust me, it’s not a good thing to try), you can do this by mastering Time Management.

There are probably hundreds of books and courses out there on Time Management, and someday I’ll probably offer one too. However, sometimes people spend so much time trying to manage their time, they become even less productive.


Two envelopes

There’s an old story about a manager being fired and leaving his successor two envelopes. The envelopes, labeled #1 and #2 are to be opened in that order when the new manager gets in a tough situation. The story goes that the new manger gets in a bind, opens #1 which has a note inside that reads “Blame it on me.” This works for a little while and then another major problem arises. The new manager opens up #2 which contains a note that reads “Prepare two envelopes.”


Quick Tip #2 – Remember your Ideas

How many times have you thought of a great idea but were unable to recall the details when you were ready to act on it? Let’s face it, great ideas can come to us at odd times: while we’re driving, in the shower, or lying in bed. If we don’t take the time to note them right away, there’s a good chance we’ll forget them. In today’s tip, I’ll talk about a couple ways you can avoid this situation.


Quick Tip #1: Using the library

I am addicted to the library. Where else can you get books, CDs, DVDs and audiobooks for free?

If you’re on a tight budget, the library is a great resource for giving you access to materials that aren’t in your budget. And you’d be surprised at the selection as the latest bestsellers and blockbusters are often waiting on the shelves for you.

Some ways you can use the library to become an Overnight Sensation:

  • Request materials through the intra-library loan system. I live in Massachusetts and I’ve had things come from as far as Illinois.

The Unexpected – it can be good or bad

A few weeks ago, I came across a web site that had the audio of speeches from the 2006 TED Conference. TED stands for Technology, Education & Design and the organization behind it describes the conference as an “invitation only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration.” I listened to two of the speeches – they we each by a well known person that I know quite a bit about. I really liked one speech and really disliked the other, which I expected would happen. What I didn’t expect was that each speech had an effect on me which was the complete opposite of what I expected.


Obey the Time Limit

One common mistake that many novice and some “expert” speakers make is to ignore the time limit. Most offenders only go over by minute or two where others wait until they’re practically booed off the stage to finish up.

In general, this is very poor practice and if you’re being paid to speak or even speaking for free for a non-profit, it unlikely that you’ll be invited to speak for them again. If you’re giving a presentation at work, your co-workers may feel become annoyed at you. Think about when you’ve been in the audience and the presenter went way over time. It’s never viewed positively.

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