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How to Create Lists that Motivate You to Take Action


You’re probably making a list.

A list of all the things you need to do. In other words a to-do list.

How do you feel when you look at your list? Does it motivate you  to take action? Or does it make you want to run away and hunt for something else to do?

If it’s the later, it’s probably because your to-do list is giving you painful images of things that need to be completed.

Most probably  your to-do list looks like this:

    1. File Taxes
    1. Annual Health checkup
    1. Clean & Update Filing Cabinet
    1. Train New Staff
  1. Root canal for tooth

Even if it’s not your list, just looking at it is painful. It makes you want to hide from the realities of life, and look at what your friends are doing on Facebook.

But imagine rephrasing the same list to read like this:

    1. Submit Taxes on time to maintain a clean record with the Income Tax department
    1. Complete my Annual Health checkup to reach optimal health
    1. Make Space in Filing Cabinet to find & file things easier
    1. Train New Staff to free up my time for important work
  1. Complete treatment for root canal to have clean & healthy teeth

Isn’t this so much better? All I did was include the positive outcomes (rewards) each to-do would bless you with.

Creating a list of your Desired Outcomes (or Projects) will definitely make you feel more motivated to take action… but you still may find yourself procrastinating.

To overcome this, you need to identify the very next physical, visible thing you have  to do to move forward on your desired outcome.

Here’s what that may look like:

Next Action

Desired Outcome

Call Accountant to follow up on filing taxes Submit Taxes on time to maintain a clean record with the Income Tax department
Visit Apollo hospital 15th June for health checkup Complete my Annual Health checkup to maintain optimal health
Identify documents that need to be trashed Make Space & Update Filing Cabinet to find things easier
Update Job description document of new Staff Train New Staff to free up my time for imp work
Call Dentist to book an appointment Complete dental treatment to have clean & healthy teeth

One of the reasons why people procrastinate is because they’ve not identified the very next action they need to take to go one step closer to that reward that’s so tempting. Projects generally encompass several next actions. But you only need to do ONE to get started. And that isn’t overwhelming! Is it?

Identifying Next Actions & Desired Outcomes is the heart of the GTD® process.

It may sound simplistic, but applying these two questions in conjunction is a game changer that answers the question ‘How to create action worthy lists’ and takes your productivity through the roof.

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