Organize Yourself in 2015–Compose Your Resources, Decompose Your Plan


Let’s say you have made a New Year’s Resolution, say, “I want to lose weight.”

Well, there’s good news and bad news.   The good news is that your mind has thought of a goal to improve yourself, which puts you ahead of people who have no wish or even any desire to improve themselves.   The problem is that, if it stays in your mind, and doesn’t get translated into the real world, it will have the same effect as if you hadn’t made the goal at all.

1.  Improving your resolution by sharpening the focus

Here’s how to improve your resolution:

1)   Pretend it’s at the end of 2015, and you already have achieved the goal.   Write it in the present tense, rather than the future tense.   Say “I have lost weight” or better “I am my ideal weight.”   If you constantly put your goals in the future tense, it is as if you are putting them on the horizon, which doesn’t sound bad until you realize that one definition of the horizon is “an imaginary line at the limit of your vision which goes away from you as you approach it.”

2)  Are there any boundaries or tangible reality to the goal?   In my case, I know that I want to “20 lbs”, so I will put that into my goal.   I don’t say “I want to lose 20 lbs.” either; combining the advice with that given in paragraph 1, I write it “I weigh 200 lbs.” which is the “ideal weight” I have chosen as the goal.

3)  If your goal is a long-term one, then you can break the goal into subgoals.   If my goal is to be 200 lbs by my birthday in May for example, then I can breakdown the 20-lb. weight loss into smaller goals, so that my weight at the end of January is 215, my weight at the end of February is 210, etc.

2.  Compose your resources

One effective weight-loss program I have used in the past is called the Transformation program by Bill Phillips.   It’s a series of 18 weeks where you write down what you eat, you have three regular meals and two smaller snacks in between, and you do strength training on alternate days combined with cardio.   The Transformation program works, but it requires a commitment.   In order to do the program, you have to prepare by setting out your menu for each meal for the week, for example.    This requires you do some preparation before the week starts.

When I did this, the initial investment seemed a little daunting, but then I realized by not creating a menu for the week, I would a) go to the store several times a week rather than just one, and b) I would buy things at the store that I didn’t need.   This initial investment of time at the beginning of the week helped me in terms of time management and money management because I didn’t need to go back to the store more than twice a week (once a week for perishable items, twice a week for perishable ones), and it helped me in terms of money because I wasn’t buying impulse items.   Everything I bought got used up.

So your goals/tasks, especially the major ones, should have a place to write down the resources you will need before you start.   This means that when you are creating the project plan, you will schedule the gathering of the resources before the start date of the work on the project itself.    Many people want to throw themselves into the project right away, but if you start doing so only to find you’re missing something you need, you will be starting the project with frustration rather than flowing right into the work.

3.  Decompose your plan

Breaking the goals into subgoals makes it easier to chart progress, and to see whether you are on track towards completing the goal on time or not.   But you need to break the goal into smaller tasks, so that you are literally only doing one thing at a time.

Multitasking reduces your performance, unless you pick two tasks that don’t require similar parts of the brain.  What we call multitasking is really hopping from one task to another, and this causes a lag as your brain gets used to the new task.   There are some things you can do to train your brain to multitask, i.e., to increases its ability to adapt to switching back and forth between tasks, like Lumosity (which I use every morning before I go to work), but Brian Tracy recommends trying to do what you can to reduce multitasking, so that you have as much of a stretch of time devoted to the really important tasks as possible.

It’s seems a little old-fashioned for people in Generation Y or the newest generation, the Linksters, but I think time will tell that Brian Tracy is correct, and you should try to avoid the multitasking trend.

However, he and other organizational experts would agree with one thing:   it is vital to break down tasks into manageable units, i.e., 30 minutes to 60 minutes of work that can be reasonably done in one sitting, so that you can step back after the work and say, “ah, I’ve accomplished something today.”

The tips above aren’t just what the experts say, I can recommend them from personal experience that they have made me more productive.   Take what is normally “down” time at the end of the day, and don’t just relax, but put some thought into preparing for the next day.    If I have papers or other things I need at work, I put them out the night before so I can just pick them up and go, rather than trying to spend morning time figuring out “now where the hell did I put such-and-such?”

Just think of preparation as “paying it forward”–to yourself!

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