Ask these 5 Critical Questions to Have a Great Day

Everybody wants to have a great day.  A day filled with productivity, accomplishment, and feeling good about yourself.  And yet, day after day, I watch my friends and people I work with go through the motions and come out feeling dissatisfied.  They work and work, yet they go to bed feeling like nothing is getting done.  They do twenty things before breakfast and still the big project of the day is only half complete.

Here’s a simple prescription for having a better day.  One where you feel like you nailed it.  Write down these five rules and tuck them away in your notebook or whatever you use to make that list of things you want to get done today before you collapse.  And after you make your “To Do” list read the checklist here and see if you are following the Rules for Having a Great Day.

Question 1.  Do you have enough time to accomplish everything on your To Do list?

It seems obvious, but people are always making a list of things to accomplish and not checking to see if they can all be done!  You CANNOT do everything in a day that you have ever wanted to accomplish.  And, setting up a day which fails to take into account the realities of driving, interruptions and just getting tired is a prescription for failure.

Pace yourself and accept you will get tired as the day progresses.  A reasonable list is a keystone to having a Great Day.

Question 2. What project is most challenging?

Puting off the most difficult project of the day until the last minute usually means it doesn’t get done.  Or, if it is done, it is not done as well as you know you could do it.  Lowering your self-esteem by half doing the most important project of the day can ruin your view of everything you did accomplish.  Don’t make that mistake! Tackle your toughest project when your energy is high and you have the resources to do it.  That usually means it should be one of the first things you get to.

Question 3. Where can I use my talents today?

Very happy and very successful people have one thing in common.  They focus their energies on THEIR goals – not the goals of others or on goals imposed on them.  A key to being happy with your day is to be able to say, “I used my talents to accomplish this task.”  If every task you do in a day could have been done equally well (or better) by someone else, you end the day feeling drained and frustrated.  If you go thru a day where your talents are at play for task after task, you will find you do much more, and you are happier with the results!

Never put yourself through a day in which you don’t use some of your best talents.  Given a choice between moving forward a project of yours or a project that is someone else’s — choose yourself!  After accomplishing something for yourself you might find you have more energy to do that annoying thing that somebody else has handed you.

Question 4. What are you doing to enjoy the day?

Every day should have something you look forward to.  …And going to sleep doesn’t count!  It could be as simple as seeing that task finally out of the way, or relaxing with a good book or your favorite TV show.

Pace yourself through the day.  Check to make sure you are hitting your goals.  Congratulate yourself for every single thing you accomplish.  We are usually quick to berate ourselves for every misstep, but terrible at accepting praise for what we do get done.  You don’t have to jump up and down shouting “Look at me!” when you accomplish a goal, but it is important that you congratulate yourself for every task you do accomplish.  This builds self worth and a feeling that you are someone who gets things done.

If your tasks are taking longer than expected, or your being slammed with interruptions, stop and renegotiate your list.  Accept the change in schedule.  Drop items that are low priority or find others to do them.

Never think of your To Do list as the list of things you MUST get done.  It is a list of things you could possibly get done – if everything goes right.  If things don’t go right then be happy with every item you did get done.

And don’t forget to congratualte yourself for handling the interruptions!  Often you save yourself hours of future work by dealing with a small crisis in the present.  When that happens pat yourself on the back for all the extra work you just avoided!

Question 5. What needs to be done first?

This is kind of a trick question because the real answer is you need to have reviewed this checklist!   But my real reason for adding this item is to make sure that before you start you assure yourself that you have gathered ALL the resources and tasks before you start.  Nothing will take the wind out of your sails faster than getting started on a project only to have it pulled out from under you when something you need isn’t there!

For example, your To Do list has, “Take some clothing to good will.”  But did you just think about driving the clothes to good will, or did you include the time to gather and package the clothes?  Do any of them need to be washed first?

How about, “Mow the lawn.”  Can you just run out and do it, or does the mower need gas?  Do you have any gas or do you have to go get it?  Is the weather cooperating today?  Perhaps there was a fog in the morning and you need to wait until the grass is drier?

Finally consider, “Prepare the presentation.”  Did you get answers back for all your questions from every team member who was supposed to contribute?  Are the presentation materials available or will you have to go get them?  Did any of your bosses request additional material to be added?

In the end, having a great day is up to you.  If you prepare yourself, properly gauge what you can realisitically accomplish, don’t let distractions wreck your momentum, and really congratulate yourself for what you get done, you should go to bed feeling that the day was one you would like to repeat… and you can.

Have a Great Day!

Putting my First Novel ‘Hayden’s War’ up for Free – for a short time.

For those who have been following my writing efforts over the past year or so I have a fun announcement.  You can go over to my David Nash Blog website and read about my plan to give away my first book for free.

It’s to test a marketing idea I had and I am hoping that lots of people check it out. You can use the main menu or the link above to get over there and read about it – and the marketing plan.

Happy reading!  And please share this with all your friends on social media!

Haydens War cover

“Just Under the Wire” Productivity

Productivity is a strange concept. We see a lot of articles and books about “becoming more productive.”

It might come as a bit of a surprise to many of my friends (who think I am very productive) that I have come to think of “productivity” as a bad thing.

For me, the problem with productivity is that it is a manufacturing term. It’s a term for the mass-production mindset.  If you made eight yesterday and you made ten today then you must be more productive.  You are somehow, better.

But, did the world need ten more?

How many resources did you use inefficiently in order to get the speed to make ten instead of eight?  Was it worth the waste?

With a grossly over-populated planet and dwindling resources our focus should be on improving the quality and longevity of what we craft.  “Built in obsolescence” should be a curse in our society, an insult of the first magnitude.

So how does this fit into time management?

How often to you race to get the job done? Striving to slide it in – just under the wire?  Did you get ten items off your task list today instead of eight?

But did you – or the world – benefit from getting ten items in just under the wire?

My father used to say, “The job’s not done until you put your tools away.”

I remember him planning changes, buying materials, working steadily.  I remember him occassionally stopping to look at the work he had done – really looking at it.  Finally,  he would touch up one more thing, smile and then begin picking up his tools.  His work lasted decades, not years.  Isn’t that what we really want?  Isn’t that real productivity?

I’d like to offer an alternative to the “super-productive” life. I think it’s time to bring craftsmanship back into our lives.  It’s time to do things the way they need to be done to get them done right.  No more band-aid fixes.  Build beautifully, and build to last.  Let machines make things fast.  People need to make things artfully.

Here’s the “short form” for the key elements in my new book on creating a truly productive life.  I hope to have the first draft finished soon.  It’s been through so many rewrites in my head that if I don’t get it all on paper soon I’m going to smoke my synapses.

1. Think about it.

2. Get the correct resources.

3. Do it right.

4. Smile at a job well done.

5. Put your tools away.

 

OK. I’m back

I’m not sure what the “proper” amount of time one is expected to spend mourning the loss of a parent.  In my case it’s up until now.  No writing, no editing, just the day to day work required to keep my bills and my bank account within waving distance.

Going forward, I think that I will be ok.  I feel like my dad’s presence is still there.  I still hear his advice when I’m contemplating doing something difficult, outrageous, or just plain stupid.  It’s a voice I heard my whole life, whether he was actually there or not.  I don’t expect I’ll ever stop hearing it.  I wouldn’t want to.

My life needs to move on.  I have new stories to tell, lessons I’ve learned to be shared, and new sunrises to see.

He got to read my first novel. He liked it.  The sequel will be dedicated to him.

I think he’d like that too.

First Post in my New Productivity Section!

Well the menu split between this site and my DavidNashBlog.com fiction site is now complete.  This menu system is still a bit crowded, but at least it now clearly spells out what I want to talk about in the non-fiction world. People who are interested in my fiction writing can grab the link to get quickly to the other site.

Today I’d like to take a minute to discuss productivity.  I’ve commented on it a bit in the past, but I have begun a new book on how to take control of your time and make your life more meaningful and enjoyable.  But, I believe that good ideas should be shared.  So I’ve opened a section on this site where I’ll hit on some of the key points and insights from the book.

Today’s topic is one that I never see in any of the time management books I’ve read.  Time tradeoffs.

Time is unlike any other resource you have to manage.  You don’t get back a single moment.  There are no do-overs.  The moment arrives, it passes and it is gone.  Right now, you (like every other person on this planet) are using every single moment of every single day.  Think about it.  You are not going to magically create an extra half hour in your schedule to write a bestseller, or get in shape, or start a new business.  You are going to trade it for some other thing you would normally do.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make in trying to “reschedule” their lives and “become more productive” is thinking they can add to their schedules without giving something else up.  And, unlike a decade ago, we don’t have a lot of “odd moments” during the day where we can pop in progress on a half dozen projects we added to our schedules in the heat of New Year’s resolution fever.

So this year, I have a couple of simple suggestions to make you more successful in completing your goals.

1. Look at all the projects you currently have committed yourself to.  All of them.  Write them down!  Look at the number.  Does it look like you could get them all done?  Most likely you would need to be cloned a half dozen times to accomplish them all.

Now, how many of them could be shelved for a year and nobody would know but you?  Notice I’m not saying you have to give them up; I’m saying could they wait a year?  How about six months?  Give yourself that time.  Clearly renegotiate the goals.  Make a list.  Write down that you will revisit those goals in January 2016.  Put it right in your calendar.

2. Next, look at all the projects other people have committed you to.  How many could you renegotiate?  How many could you hand off to subordinates?  How many simply should not be on your plate at all?  Get rid of them!

Pay attention to people who are using you to accomplish their goals at the cost of your own.  Perhaps it is time to stop blindly taking on every task they ask you to do?

If your boss wants you to do a new project ask him which current project he wants put on hold.  If your schedule is full, (and you know it is) don’t half do jobs, make your boss give you additional resources or put some of your other projects on hold.  A few of these renegotiations and you might find that you have a lot more respect around the office, and you will be getting more quality out of your workday.

3. This is the hard one.  How many projects are you carrying around that you really don’t want to finish, but just feel that you started on them and need to get them done?

The worst type of project is the one you start for yourself and never quite find the time to do.  Be honest with yourself.  Every promise you break to another person lowers your self esteem and your belief that you can get the job done.  But, promising yourself and hiding the fact that you are not getting it done is TWICE the damage.

Put the projects that are not getting done on the “to be reviewed in a year list” or if you have the strength, and it is time, let them go.  I usually encourage people to put them on the list for a year if they are unsure.  It is much easier to let go of a plan to learn to take scuba diving lessons after it has sat for a year and you can see how much progress you have made on other goals.  In fact, sometimes it comes off the shelf and you do it.

If you start by performing the three tasks above then you will find that you can get a lot further with your goals for the New Year.

You can’t lie very well to yourself.  If you don’t have the time for a new project, deep down you know it.  So the first step in any successful new project should be to give yourself the time to accomplish it.

I have a new motto for this year.  You are welcome to use it.

“I don’t have excuses… I get the job done.”

Here’s to a Happy and Successful New Year.

 

First book printing is done!

Well the first book is now out in paperback.  As I may have mentioned I write all my fiction under the name David Nash to make it easier for people to find it on bookshelves.  I have also set up a website — http://www.davidnashblog.com where I am going to cover all the fiction work I do.  You can jump over there now to see the new website and get links to the book and even to the earlier short stories I wrote for Tales of Isgalduin.

I’m also doing a David Nash Facebook page.  I did one before, but messed it up so it needs to be redone.  I’m sure that before everything is completed there will be a David Nash Twitter account and a David Nash Pinterest page as well.

I may end up with a split personality.

Considering how frequently l forget to update this site I have also decided to actually join a blogging group to help keep me on track.  So, in the future I expect to make more regular postings on this and the David Nash site.

Anyway, what are you waiting for?  Jump on over to http://www.davidnashblog.com and take a look at the first book.  Laci Willette did a great job on the cover and you can read an excerpt from the Amazon link to the book.  It’s available for Kindle and can be ordered from both Barnes and Noble as well as Amazon.com

 

Cover for first book nearly complete. Should hit the electronic shelves soon.

Well the cover for the new book is almost done.  Just needs some tweaking and it will be ready to go.  While I wait, I’m fighting the urge to go back to reread and tweak the novel just one more time.

Content edits on the steampunk novel are about 50% complete.  I expect that I will start moving into the rewrite phase sometime next week.  I’ve handed off the cover for that one earlier so that the novel and the cover should arrive within a week of each other.

Moving forward, I am gearing up for work on a non-fiction book on time management.  That one will require a lot more organizational effort, since there is so much ground to cover.  There have been many books written on the subject.  My goal is focus on how to make time management more about managing your time to accomplish what will lead to a happier life and less about managing your time in order to just get more done. 

Any professional time management coach will tell you that there is not enough time for anyone to accomplish all they are capable of.  Good time management skills can make you more efficient at accomplishing tasks.  Great time management helps you focus your efforts on the things that are meaningful to you, and demands that you give yourself due credit for reaching those goals.