Charly: Were you always this stupid, or did you take lessons?
Mitch: I took lessons.
(from The Long Kiss Goodnight)
First lesson: a Top 10 List is a very good way of exploring a subject. They can be applied to almost anything. If you want to know what books to read, write a Top 10 List of books you’d like to read; if you want to recommend some pointers to someone starting in the same line of work to yourself, write a Top 10 List about how to do your job. And so on.
Even better, when you have a behaviour you want to get rid of, realise that you are an expert in that behaviour. All you have to do then is to imagine that you are giving advice to a pupil on how to be just like you and write your Top 10. In this case the list was about ways of being unproductive. It could just as well have been how to be overweight, or how to be unfit, how to be in debt or how to have disastrous relationships. If you are overweight or unfit or have insufficient money or have disastrous relationships all you have to do is brief someone else on how to be like you. That can be a very illuminating exercise!
And then all you have to do to produce a recipe for action is to turn each item on your list into its opposite.
I’m sure you have arleady spotted that every item on my Productive list is the opposite of the same numbered item on my Unproductive list:
Never say no
Learn to say no
Don’t be systematic
Keep starting things you don’t finish
Finish what you start
Build up huge backlogs
Keep on top
Take on more work than you can possibly do
Be very selective about what you take on
Keep chopping and changing
Don’t sort things out
Take remedial action immediately
Don’t identify any long-term goals
Be clear about your long-term goals
Avoid doing anything that takes you out of your comfort zone
Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone
Do first things last
Do first things first