Getting the Important Stuff Done

“Doing work that matters is much harder than doing work that doesn’t.” – Peter Bregman, author of “18 Minutes.”18minutes

The important work that we say that we want to do is often hard. It’s so much easier to fritter away time on things that don’t matter like Facebook, Pinterest, or Farmville. These easy distractions give us an immediate pay-off which is hard to resist. The long-term pay-off of pursuing our goals is much more valuable, but also much farther away.

The Quadrant II activities in Stephen R Covey’s Time Management Matrix include things like planning, clarifying values, and relationship building. These are the activities we should spend more time on, but that often fall by the wayside, pushed aside by more trivial matters. Take these steps to overcome the pitfalls and get important stuff done.

10 Tactics for accomplishing important work:

Don’t overlook your goals when choosing your Most Important Tasks (MITs) for the day

Important tasks can be routine work, like the report that is due today and the car that needs an oil change. We know that QII activities are also important, but without a deadline they can often be easily postponed. They may never happen if you wait to do them until you have free time.

Tackle important work at the best time

It’s best to work on tasks that require thought and creativity when you have the most energy, usually in the morning. Don’t waste your most productive time.

Remember the benefits

Consider the consequences if it is not done, and the benefits of accomplishing it.

Make it easy

In his book and TED Talk, Peter Bregman uses an example to illustrate this. His family thought they would eat outdoors at a table, but found they never used it…until they moved it a little closer to their door. Make good habits easy, and bad habits hard.

KISS-Keep It Super Simple

Maybe you don’t need a complicated plan. Maybe you only need to know the first step. Some projects may be complex, but keep them as simple as possible. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

Break it down

Big tasks can seem overwhelming unless they are broken down into smaller action steps.

Take one small step

Get started by telling yourself you will do just one small step. Often once inertia is overcome, it’s easy to keep the momentum going.

Get focused

Do an annual review to choose goals and areas of focus. The Energy Level Gauge is a simple tool that makes it easy to see which areas of your life need more attention.

Remind Yourself

Keep it visual, and keep it on your radar. Peter Bregman’s 18 minutes: 5 minutes in the morning to plan, 5 minutes in the evening to review, and a timer set hourly during the day to re-focus.

Schedule it

Assign a date and time in your calendar. In 18 Minutes, Peter Bregman describes studies from the book “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz which reveal that deciding when and where we will do something makes it 80-100% more likely to be done.

Want to learn more? Read 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman, and watch his TED Talk, The Work Buffet.

More resources to: Learn about Productivity

How to Set Goals Quickly and Easily With Two Free Tools: an Annual Review


When a new year begins, we often take some time to review how things have been going, and plan for what’s next. Setting goals doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Here are three simple steps:

1. Choose a goal (see Goal Plans for ideas) that will increase value for each area.

  • A quick energy audit will reveal which life areas to focus on.

2. Make your goal SMART.

3. Make a Goal Master List (pdf) that you keep visible.

Goal Master List4. There are different types of goals. Pick the right Goal Chart (pdf) to keep track of your progress, or track habits with an app or a calendar to implement Jerry Seinfeld’s Don’t Break the Chain Strategy.

GoalChartCardsThat’s basically it! If you want to become a goal setting ninja, increase your Goal Setting Skills with Goal Mastery Levels (pdf)

GoalMasteryIf you want to learn more, check out the free Daily PlanIt short course on How to Set Goals, and my eBook, “Get Goaling.”

See also:


Making Ideas Happen (Book Notes)

Why is it so hard to finish what we start? I don’t know about you, but I have an incomplete project or two around. The initial enthusiasm begins to fade as the work goes on and difficulties occur. Distractions crop up to take us off in different directions, and sometimes we never get back on course. I was so pleased to find a book that explores this topic. Here are my notes inspired by reading the book “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky.

Getting ideas is usually not the problem. Actually acting on an idea to create something is the hard part. It’s especially challenging when working with creative teams. How this can be accomplished is the subject of the book “Making Ideas Happen,” by Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of the Behance Network, a leading platform for creative professionals.


Capture the idea. Choose ideas wisely. Evaluate the idea.


Set up a system to manage your projects. Learn more about the Action Method at 99u. Organize visually. Create a work space that allows shifting between creativity and productivity.


Act with persistence. Focus. Have a follow-up system. Set a target date.


Follow through to completion. Commit to shipping. Overcome resistance. Know when it is time to release.


Creative ideas are best served when people communicate and interact. Fresh perspectives add to the outcome. Request input on ideas and get feedback. Pitch your idea to others and market yourself.


Inspire others with your vision. Motivate yourself and others. Think like an entrepreneur. Encourage engagement with playfulness and recognition as rewards.

Watch Scott Belsky talk about making ideas happen in his TED Talk:

See Also

System Reboot

Earlier this week, my laptop started to act like it was possessed. The cursor began crazily jerking across the screen on a path of it’s own choosing, definitely not in the direction I wished to go. I tried some troubleshooting tactics. I updated my virus checker and did a scan. I did a defrag. I attempted a system restore. And then it seemed okay. I thought I had fixed it, until I plugged it into the outlet in the kitchen, the same outlet I was plugged into when the problem began. Then the difficulty returned, apparently only occurring in those conditions. One of my friends advised me, “Don’t plug it into the kitchen outlet!” That’s pretty good advice, I’d say.

While my computer was unavailable (it took hours to defrag) I spent some time reviewing the process and systems I use to manage tasks and projects. Some updating was definitely in order. It reminded me of the importance of reviewing, and made me think about how it should be done regularly. If the thought of doing an in-depth review is daunting, I have found that even a quick review can be beneficial. If only a small amount of time is dedicated to glancing back and then forward, it still provides a good return for the investment.  I also ran across a fantastic free tool for an annual review from The Art of Non-Conformity.

Things I learned from a system reboot

When facing a problem:

1. If certain conditions cause problems, and those conditions are not essential, avoid them! This is kind of a derivative of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

2. Experiment to eliminate possible causes.

3. Don’t forget to perform routine maintenance.

4. If you’re stuck, review your system, your projects and goals.

More problems I ran into this week:

spamI reached the limit of my endurance for Spam. Frankly, I never have had much appreciation for any kind of spam. Lately spammers have gotten quite tricky in their methods for getting through spam filters. A genuine comment on a post has become increasingly rare. I resolved to turn off comments, although I invite genuine interaction on the Daily PlanIt Facebook page. They came to this conclusion at Copyblogger back in March. (I’ve seen spam in commments on other Facebook pages, so we’ll see how that goes.)  Once the decision was made, I discovered there isn’t just one simple switch to throw. To truly turn them all off would require going to every single post, and there are lots of them here. My hope is that turning off comments on this and future posts and the pages will deter most of the spammers. Talk about time wasters, spam is on my hit list. dislike

Awhile back, an employee at Office Depot persuaded me to purchase several printer cartridges of their brand rather than genuine HP printer cartridges. I knew better than to do that, but allowed myself to be swayed. The first one perked along well, but eventually my printer revolted. When I replaced the cartridge with the real deal, my printer was once again happy. So I attempted to return the other Office Depot cartridges, but was refused a refund. I’m not mad, but I AM going to spread the word, and I’ll never buy another cartridge there. I’m just saying.

Do you do regular maintenance and a weekly review? An annual review? Let me know on the Daily PlanIt Facebook page!


The Economy of Goals

Economic Principles Meet the Pleasure Principle

It is a basic economic principle that the benefit or value of a product or service must exceed the resources required to obtain it in order for it to be chosen. In other words, if we think the price is too high for the perceived value, we aren’t going to buy it, regardless of what is exchanged in order to get it. Another principle is that choices have intended and unintended consequences which lie in the future. Let’s consider these principles as applied to the goal setting process to gain insight into the choices we make.

A couple of things have come my way recently that have made me stop and say…

“Wait, What? Pain is involved?”

The motivational video “Why Do We Fall” says “It’s not about how hard you get hit, it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.”

ItWillHurtThis quote from Prolific Living says “It will hurt. It will take time and dedication and willpower. It will require sacrifice. There will be temptation (to quit) but when you reach your goal, it will have been worth it. So don’t quit. Don’t fuss or whine or complain. Just Keep Hustling.”

Humans do their best to avoid pain, and seek pleasure. Yet reaching goals can require us to embrace temporary pain in pursuit of the long-term pleasure of accomplishing the goal. We have to believe it is worth it, or we will likely give up when we encounter hardships and obstacles. To contribute and excel means going above and beyond.

In Freudian psychology, the pleasure principle is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs. But to achieve success in some endeavors like sports, pain can be a part of the process to reach the goal. It takes strength to take on that kind of challenge. It takes the ability to delay gratification and keep focused on the long term result.

Anything worth doing takes effort. By definition, reaching for a goal is not going to be easy. When you know what you want to do, and how to do it, you must want it enough to commit to it. And that often means getting up and out of your comfort zone. I need to remember this to get me going above and beyond the path of least resistance. It reminds me of the scene in the movie “Stand and Deliver” based on the true story of teacher Jaime Escalante where he tells his students, “you’ve got to have the desire!” …enough desire to get you past inertia and over the hurdles that stand between you and the goal. You’ve got to have the grit to keep going even when the going gets tough.

The benefit of a goal must exceed the resources required to obtain it.

PricevsValueI want to apply these thoughts to a couple of examples. The first one that comes to mind is working out. Working out requires a commitment of several resources. You have to take the time to get up and go do it. People often don’t view it as that pleasurable a thing to do. (At least, I don’t) It doesn’t have to cost money, but you might invest in a gym membership, a dvd, or equipment. It’s just much easier not to do it. Even though I knew I could gain strength, lose weight, and probably look better, it wasn’t enough to overcome inertia. My husband did something that tipped the scales in favor of my perceived value of working out. He described with great enthusiasm how aerobic exercise works. He promised me I would gain more energy and feel better by making the effort to work out. And I wanted that enough to commit to the goal. I probably would not have made the investment of resources to commit to this goal if not for being educated by him about the value of it. When I clearly saw all of the pros, their significance grew to outweigh the cons. The benefits of working out tipped the balance, becoming greater than the cost of achieving it. I now focus on how good I feel when I work out, and not on the time and effort it takes.

Another example is starting your own business. The costs are substantial: investing in acquiring the skills needed, investment of time, money and hard work, taking a risk. The benefits can also be great: independence, challenge, and hopefully, financial success. It’s an undertaking only chosen by those who believe the benefits outweigh the cost of the goal.

To make intelligent choices, we need to be educated about the true value and the cost of goals, and the long term effects of choosing them, or not. We can use this knowledge to tip the scales in favor of a goal, to make us willing to tackle the costs, the pain, the effort it is going to take, and make good decisions about the choices we make.

Learn how to set goals with my ebook “Get Goaling,”   or a free short course on How to Set Goals.



By dailyplanit Posted in goals

How I Created My First eBook

ebookpublishCreating an eBook was a challenge and learning experience. One thing I learned was that it’s all changing very fast. I would research and find websites, and the next time I looked they were gone. The positive side of that is that it’s become much easier to create an eBook with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP.) I found it really simple to upload, preview, and edit in KDP. Here is a nice guide from the publishers of the For Dummies books. David Gaughran has a good post about the basics of publishing.


Of course you want to start by having great content for your eBook. This article at Firepole Marketing has some good advice on that. My first challenge was grabbing content from my blog to use in the book. I used for this. Then I did a lot of editing to improve and organize that content.


I don’t have the newest version of Microsoft Word, so this was a bit of a challenge also.


Shauna Kelly has a great explanation of How to create a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word.


MS Word tends to put extra “stuff” in that might not be visible but looks weird when you publish an eBook. I read a lot about this, and can’t even remember what was most helpful now! It gave me a headache!


I simply used one of the covers from KDP.


I’m no legal expert, but at Legal Stuff in Ebooks JW Manus says:  “Your written work is copyrighted as soon as it is in tangible form- Nor are you required to register your copyright with the US Copyright Office.”

Copyright Page Samples from The Book Designer


  • Do a search of your topic to see the prices of similar eBooks.
  • Read How to Price Your eBook from Mill City Press.


  • Once you are ready to publish, Marketing your eBook is the next step! Find out why, how and tools for getting it done at Checklist to Market an eBook.

Want to see more? I invite you to “like” the Daily PlanIt Facebook page and follow me on Pinterest! My eBook “Get Goaling: the simple guide to set and achieve your goals.” is a clear, concise, step-by-step guide that gives you the tools to learn the skills and get goaling quickly.

Evaluating Ideas and Projects

Are you spending your time on projects that really contribute to your goals? projectfiles

Take a closer look at your activities to see if they support your core value statement (Unique Selling Proposition or Mission Statement) and provide a good return on the investment (ROI) of the resources required to accomplish them. The main difference between projects and goals is the time frame. Projects are the step between goals and daily action. The process of planning is the same for both, and the same tools can be used for planning either projects or goals.magnifyingglass

Step 1. First, describe the Idea/Project: the features and benefits, & why you are interested in it.


Features (distinctive attributes) Benefits (value added by the features)
Describe why you want to do the Idea/Project: Motivation (make money, help others, etc)


Step 2. Then compare the importance of each Idea/Project to your core value statement.

Your core value statement (USP, Mission):
Importance level to core value statement High | Medium | Low
Effectiveness for accomplishing goals High | Medium | Low
Return on Investment (ROI) Do Benefits outweigh Costs?
BENEFITS of accomplishment COSTS of Resources (time, money, etc)

yes button

Step 3. If you decide to proceed, make a plan…what are the steps you need to accomplish next?

Action steps:
Inspire/Promote with:
Image (photo, graphic) that conveys the Idea/Project:
Slogan or tagline:


Free printable Project Evaluation Form (pdf)

This has been helping me understand why it is important to me to continue to spend time researching and writing articles for the Daily PlanIt. The website is a good fit with my core value statement:

“I create tools and share information for developing work and life skills.”

See Also: Evaluate Goals

Project Planning Forms at PEP Worldwide | Project Form (pdf) from Flipping Heck

Learn more: Article at DEG Consulting, Principles of Project Management course at, IDEAS Criteria from Productivityist

see also Delicious Links

Game On! The Rules of Setting Goals

After my husband explained the rules of football, it became a lot more interesting. As he says, “If you know the rules, you understand the battle.” It got me thinking that setting goals is similar. You are much more likely to reach a goal if you know the rules.

Stackhouse FGNGP20 Semi-Perm Gooseneck Offset Goal Posts

In football, the goal is to make a touchdown. The team in possession of the ball has 4 chances to advance 10 yards toward their goal. If they make that, they get another 4 chances to advance another 10 yards.



The other team is trying to prevent the advance toward the goal by tackling the player carrying the ball or by intercepting the ball when it is thrown. Players need to change course as they encounter obstacles. Breaking the rules can cause penalties and result in a loss of ground. The reward for getting the most points is winning!

No matter what goal you choose, you need to have a game plan, and it helps to have targets along the way to the goal.

Here are six goal-setting rules:

  1. Goals must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, rewarded, and time bound.)
  2. Goals must be written.
  3. You must have a plan of action.
  4. You must take action to advance toward your targets.
  5. It is important to review your progress regularly.
  6. To be a good player, you must have skills and be determined.

Learn more with the Daily PlanIt eBook, “Get Goaling.”

By dailyplanit Posted in goals

Choosing Goals

Choose goals that will add value.

Learn how to choose goals with this short video explaining the Map Your Values exercise from my eBook, “Get Goaling.”


Choosing goals that are your top priority is one of the skills you need to learn to begin setting and achieving your goals.

This simple exercise from my eBook “Get Goaling,” makes it easy.

To get started, you need key values.

The value words I’m talking about are qualities that will most improve your life if increased.

For this exercise, print the Map Your Values pdf from the link above, and there’s also a link to a list of value words if you need ideas.

It’s pretty easy to pick a word to answer the question: “What will fill my life with value?” for each life area.

For example, in the physical area, the word “health” might come to mind.

If your health is good, you may think of words that add more value, like “strength” or “energy.”

Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which shows that once basic needs are met, we move up to higher needs.

Look for a word that is realistic, and doesn’t limit you too much.

Once you have a word for each life area, mark the current level of each value, and you quickly see which areas to focus on.

The good news is many goals are already known to increase some values, so there’s no need to re-invent the wheel.

If you choose the word “health” for the physical area, clearly that value can be increased by following a healthy diet and increasing the amount of exercise you get. Make your goals SMART.

Find ideas for some commonly chosen goals, many with SMART plans, at under the Goal Plans tab.

Some goals may be uniquely your own and require more planning.

Learn how to do this and more with the Daily PlanIt eBook, “Get Goaling.”

By dailyplanit Posted in goals