Tasks Work Better On A Timeline
A timeline allows you to not only schedule out the events or tasks that complete an action, but also allows you to clearly see the next step. This makes it easier to not only finish the task on time, but to stay motivated throughout the process.
How Long Does It Take
Now the question is, “how long does it take?”
Let’s say someone comes up to me and asks a question about doing something. I immediately start thinking of all the steps that it would take to complete the task.
Many times I’ll go on a rant of how they could do it… “you go to this place, this place and then this place” etc.. In my head I’m actually going through each and every step of the Success Leaves Traces process.
I think about all the steps and as I’m explaining, step-by-step, to this person, I’m saying you need to do this first, this second, this third etc.. Here’s how you would do it, here’s how you would have someone else do it, and how long it should take.
This is how I think. My goal is to show you how to think in the same way.
Projects will start to get easier for you when, you too, start thinking in this linear fashion. You’ll be amazed to see how easy you can get any project completed. It’s a more efficient way of accomplishing anything.
I’m breaking down how I think so it will be more obvious for you. I’m trying to explain it so you can apply it to anything you want to do.
It applies just as much to riding a bike as it does to building a multi-million dollar business. It applies to losing weight as much as it does to cleaning your computer. It applies to everything you do, I’m just trying to help you turn it into a very simple process.
Let’s go back to your list. The list is made up of action items you need to accomplish, and now, you need to guesstimate how long it’s going to take in order to accomplish each specific task.
Many people are smarter than they let on to be. You may already know how long a task will take. You may think you don’t, you may say you don’t, but, in reality, you really do know how long it will take. You know there’s a process for everything you do in life, so use your best judgement.
Always assume it’s going to take longer. People like to be optimistic. Contractors are notorious for being very optimistic; they’re the most optimistic people I know! They’re always saying the project will take two weeks, and 60 days later, they’re still working on it.
If someone says it’s going to take five days to complete a task, it’s a safe bet it will take 10 days.
Double What You Think
I think you should double your guesstimate. By doubling your estimated time you allow room for error. You leave room for emergencies, holidays, people’s birthdays etc. because you don’t know what’s going to happen in someone else’s life.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. I had a programmer creating a piece of software for me and he couldn’t complete it as scheduled because the day he was supposed to finish it was his wife’s birthday.
What was I going to say, “No, don’t celebrate your wife’s birthday”?
Come on, these things happen, so account for them, build it into your schedule by doubling the amount of time you expect it to take to complete the task. If it gets completed sooner, GREAT, you’re ahead of schedule…but always assume it will take longer.
Break It Up Into Units
You want to break the tasks up into units. A unit may be days, weeks, months or even years. Let’s define this a little more.
If there are 50 items you need to complete and each item will take you approximately a day, double the time and allow two days per task. Now you look at a schedule and figure, on average, you’re going to complete three items each week until the project is complete. That’s now your goal and focus.
By breaking the list down into those types of units, three items per week, you have a very good estimate of how long it will actually take, in this example it will take 16 weeks to complete the project.
Can some things be done simultaneously? Yes, you may be able to do several items simultaneously.
If you don’t have a goal and a deadline tasks never seem to get finished. A classic example is a person trying to lose weight. Maybe you have a high school reunion coming up and want to shed some pounds before the reunion. That’s pretty definitive. This person has a definitive date they need to lose weight by. It’s the definitive time frame that makes it work.
Here’s another example.
An upcoming bride discovers that she needs to lose some weight in order to fit into the wedding gown. The wedding date isn’t going change and the gown is already purchased, in other words she has a very specific date and weight goal to met. Or maybe a man or women wants to lose weight before the summer swimming season starts.
There are a lot of reasons why people wish to lose weight…BUT…when the reason is framed by a definitive time frame it usually works.
Now the question comes up, what if it’s not finished by that time? What’s your back up plan?
Why It Doesn’t Matter
Here’s a little secret. Most of the time, I don’t really want to know why something isn’t done because it doesn’t matter, to me, why something isn’t done. All I know is that it’s not done.
I hear people ask, “why is this or that not done?” I say, “who cares?”. When you ask “why” it’s not done you’re encouraging and enabling someone (or yourself) to make up ad excuse. I REALLY don’t care, it’s not productive in any way, shape or form to talk about it. All you need to know is that “it’s not done”!
The question you need to ask is, “what do we need to do in order to get it done?”. It’s the only question that matters at this point.
This entire process is the “Fifth Element” of Success Leaves Traces. It appears simple and it is simple, but, it is not easy.
The important thing to remember is that it will work for almost anything you wish to accomplish!