Ever had a brilliant idea and then worked on it furiously for hours or even days, only to give up on it later? Me too. It’s disappointing that all that energy and excitement has been wasted, but unfortunately, that method was never going to work. What actually works is consistently taking small actions towards our projects or goals. Yes, it’s boring but it’s effective.
Imagine if you had done something meaningful, but small, every day towards your project for the last 6 months. Where would you be now? You’d probably have some great results and a lot to show for just a small amount of effort each day. Consistent small actions will always get you much further than a short-lived flurry of activity.
It’s the consistency that’s key here. And actually taking the actions. One six-hour blitz of work really doesn’t rate when compared to doing 20 minutes of meaningful work towards a goal for a month (let alone 6 months or 3 years!).
Try Keeping a Daily Accomplishments List
Getting clear on your intentions for the day can make a huge difference to your productivity, and we’ve previously discussed how writing out a short to-do list of around 3 important actions is probably one of the best things you can do to get better results. James Clear tells the story of Ivy Lee providing this advice to Charles Schwab (one of the richest men in the world at the time) and Marc Andreessen also endorses this view.
However, as powerful as writing out your 3-5 most important actions can be, there’s something you can add to this to make it even more effective – a daily accomplishments list.
At the end of each day, just note down what you achieved for the day towards your goals. When you think it through, it’s often more than you think.
Then, the idea is not to break the chain. Make sure there’s something you’ve accomplished for each day. You can feel free to set the bar low – tiny actions do count! It might be sending an important email, making a sales call, updating your social media accounts, or drafting the copy for a sales page. The important thing is to do something that moves you closer to your goal.
Track Your Daily Accomplishments
To help get you taking small actions each day, a great technique is to record your accomplishments. Gretchen Rubin refers to this as the strategy of monitoring, but it’s also known as “what gets measured gets managed”.
If you record your accomplishments…
- You’ll realise that even on days when you don’t get to check a whole task off your to-do list, you can still move closer to your goals. Our tendency to make tasks too big works against us but having an accomplishments list shows us how we’re progressing. (For instance, your to-do list might say “launch new sales page” but you even if you don’t get this finished, you still might “draft copy for new sales page” or “sketch out ideas for new sales page”.)
- You’ll recognise that you do a lot of things that were never on your to-do list but yet, still needed to be done
- You’ll learn a lot more from what you’ve accomplished (and not). A to-do list reveals your intentions, but an accomplishments list reveals the reality
- Because of all of the above, you’ll start to feel a lot more satisfaction with your work – which in turn leads to increase motivation and productivity. You’ll find that your Accomplishments List inspires you to continue to accomplish the important things.
Free Productivity Worksheet: Actions & Accomplishments
To get you started with getting clear on both your actions and accomplishments, we’ve created a Free Productivity Worksheet. Yes, it’s incredibly simple – but it works.
Do an experiment and try using this for a week – I’ll be shocked if you don’t experience a huge productivity boost – just from taking consistent small actions!
So when you’re feeling like you need to brainstorm, or revisit your strategy because things are not going as you hoped, maybe ask yourself whether you’ve actually been taking those consistent small actions towards your goal. If not, that’s where you start. Write out a list of actions you should take and do something today.