It is not too late for “New Year’s Resolutions”! Today is the FIRST day of the rest of our lives. We all have 24 hours per day. We have free will to choose what to do with those hours. What will you make of your life?
Why Before What or How
The new year season is a good reminder to consider our values and goals, before we make “to do lists” of tasks. We might be climbing the ladder of success only to discover later, with regret, that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.
Getting the RIGHT Things Done
Life management is about effectiveness more than efficiency. We could be getting more of the wrong things done faster and more efficiently. “Right” or “wrong” is relative to our own values and goals.
Pareto’s Principle, aka The 80/20 Rule
The realization that 80% of valuable results come from 20% of our activities is really a very exciting concept. It offers the possibility of quadrupling our results by focusing on the vital few rather than the trivial many.
Important vs. Urgent
Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, pointed out that the main difference between highly successful people and unsuccessful people is that winners do important things proactively even when they are not urgent. Losers react to urgent demands even if they are relatively unimportant. They allow the urgent to crowd out the important. For example, we all know that exercise is important, but it is rarely urgent. We can easily procrastinate.
Pursuit of excellence can be overdone, especially considering finite limitations of time and money. The Law of Diminishing Returns explains the tendency for a continuing application of effort or skill toward a particular project or goal to decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved. At some point further effort becomes less and less worthwhile, especially relative to what else we could be doing instead with the time and resources.
Doing one thing in the extreme steals resources from other things we could be doing. In a previous post about Opportunity Cost I wrote:
Choosing one path has kept us from another. The difference is called “Opportunity Cost.” As we reflect on our past, we may say, “Gee, I’m glad I did!” or “Gee, I wish I had…” John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are those “It might have been”. Choices yield consequences and ramifications that may last a lifetime.
To Do List and Not To Do List
Choosing what activities to give up to make room for relatively more important things may be just as valuable as making lists of “Things to Do.” Some people recommend a “Not To Do” list. Certain television programs come to mind.
Stephen Covey recommends planning weekly rather than daily, so that the most important things get entered into our calendar before the space is taken up with less important things. It is easy to fill a day with Pareto’s trivial many at the expense of the vital few.