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Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it. Salvador Dali
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« Little and Often! | Main | Vague Goals »

An Easy Challenge Revisited

In my newsletter of 7 November I wrote about an easy challenge. At the same time I asked for feedback on how people got on with it. Some people, including myself, have found the exercise to be so valuable that I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit it. Perhaps those of you who didn’t give it a go first time will be inspired to give it a try. (If you want to refresh your memory about the original article, it can be read at view=64)

A lot of people were kind enough to give me feedback. I was surprised though that quite a few of them seemed to have rather missed the point of the exercise – perhaps I didn’t explain it as clearly as I might have. One person told me that she had tried the exercise for two days running, had failed both days to score any points and felt that she had learned all she needed to learn. Another reckoned he had succeeded because he had done everything he had put on his list for several days running. The items he had put on his list were such things as getting up in the morning, eating breakfast and travelling to work. A third person did the exercise for three days, scoring four or five points each day, but made no effort to increase his score.

All of the above missed the main point of the exercise, which is that it is intended to be progressive. And as with any exercise in which you are competing against yourself, you need a mixture of success and failure in order to get the most out of it. Think of this exercise as being the mental equivalent of doing push-ups every day. You are competing against yourself to do more each day. Some days you will succeed and some days you will fail – but over a period of time you will get stronger and stronger.

The exercise is designed to practise you in two skills until they are instinctive. The first is the skill of being able to draw up a completely realistic list of tasks for the next day. The second is to be able work through this list every day until completion. As your skill increases the list should get progressively longer every day until it includes every single thing that you have to do. Once you have reached that stage, you are in complete control of your work.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t do other things during the day which aren’t on your list. It’s just that you don’t score any points for them if you do. There is absolutely no point in cheating because all that happens if you do is that you are cheating yourself out of the benefit of the exercise. Things which qualify as cheating include adding or deleting items on the list during the day.

Is it possible to achieve this? Certainly it is in my experience. My own scores have been 15, 34, 26, 28, 27. More important than the scores themselves, each day’s list included everything that I had to do. That’s right – everything that I had to do in order to remain completely on top of my work.

How can you construct a realistic list which will cover everything you have to do? My new book “Do It Tomorrow” – due out approximately mid-2006 - will tell you, and so will the two seminars which I am running in January.

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