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First there must be order and harmony within your own mind. Then this order will spread to your family. Then to the community and finally to your entire Kingdom. Confucius
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An Easy Challenge - or is it?

I have been developing some new exercises for my new book “Do it Tomorrow” which is scheduled for publication around June 2006. I thought I would take the opportunity to share one of them with you, especially as I would like some feedback to include in the book!

This exercise is designed to make you more aware of how much or how little you are actually in control of your day. By making you more aware it should also help you to improve your control.

The exercise consists of a daily challenge in which you compete against yourself to score as many points as possible each day.

To score points, you have to decide the previous day how many points you are going to attempt to score the following day. Then you write down a list comprising that number of tasks. So for example if you decide you want to try to score three points the following day, you write down a list of three tasks. So you might write down 1) buy new calculator 2) call my sister 3) mow the lawn. The tasks should be simple and specific so that at the end of the day you either have done them or you haven’t. Then you score one point for each completed task.

That sounds easy enough doesn’t it? But there’s a catch. You only score the points if you complete every item on the list that day. If you haven’t completed every item, then you score no points at all for that day – no excuses accepted!

This of course is exactly what we don’t do when we are drawing up our to-do lists or plans for the day. We don’t draw up our list of things to do in the expectation of completing it. The result is that our days are poorly planned and at the prey of random factors. Use this exercise to see how many items you can work up to. Start with just a few – possibly even one – and keep working at the exercise day by day until you can write quite a long list and still be sure of finishing it. You may find it much more difficult than you expect. The key is to do the items on the list first thing - before you embark on the rest of the day’s work.

Try this out for a week or so and then let me know how you get on and particularly let me know of any insights you get from trying it. You may even get a mention in my book!

The book is out now - but I’m still very happy to hear how you got on if you have tried this exercise.