Steve’s book is based on making a conscious decision about whether we do ‘gain’ tasks or ‘prevent pain’ tasks. Our brains are more sensitive to and naturally prioritise ‘prevent pain’ tasks. These tasks include our never-ending job list, firefighting – all the things we need to do to survive the day! They very often get done first and we run out of time for the ‘gain’ tasks.
The ‘gain’ tasks are those which lack urgency but once done have the potential to produce significant results and give us a sense of moving and improving rather than the feel of maintenance and the sense of never-ending which ‘prevent pain’ tasks give us.
So how do we make sure we focus on the ‘gain’ tasks? Here are a few of my insights having worked with many clients in this area over the years:
1) Be clear about what you want
Think about all the things you would like to be true about your life. Write them down. What would you like to achieve in business and in your personal life? We have found that by committing goals to paper, there is a far greater chance of achieving them and it gives you a framework to start living your life on purpose.
2) Identify the ‘gain’ tasks
Write a list of the ‘gain’ tasks required to achieve your goals. What are the actions you need to take to move in the direction of achieving your goals? Give yourself some deadlines too and think about the good habits that you can implement to give yourself the best chance of success.
3) Identify the ‘prevent pain’ tasks that you can delegate
Think about all the day to day activities you currently undertake. I love using the ‘Do, Ditch and Delegate’ framework. Be careful what you put on your ‘Do’ list – far too often we do things we think only we can do but it would actually be far better to delegate. Consider what your time is worth compared to the cost to delegate. What would be a better use of your time?
4) Schedule and protect time for gain tasks
Go back to your list of ‘gain’ tasks, open your diary and schedule specific time to get started on the ‘gain’ tasks. It takes a little more than just putting it in the diary – we have clients who block time out of their calendar to work on their business rather than in it and until they use the ‘discipline’ muscle the time is at risk of being sucked up by ‘prevent pain’ tasks. How can you recognise the value of and fiercely protect the time set aside for ‘gain’ tasks?