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Hi friends,

I try a lot of things and most of them fail. But one experiment has been working, and in a huge way, so I want to share it. I call it the Actions That Matter template, for now.

If I'm being honest, I sometimes spend a lot of time on “work” that doesn't actually accomplish much. Answering emails, responding to instant messages, color coding spreadsheets, organizing music or files: it's mostly just busy work.

It's easy to get distracted. It's harder to focus.

And it's much harder to focus on what actually matters.

So I created an “Actions That Matter” template as a way to help me do that.

In summary, it's goal + high-value actions + check.

Here's the template:

  1. Define a goal in concrete, time boxed terms.
  2. Create a very short list of the Actions That Matter: actions that significantly move the needle towards completing the goal.
  3. Every time I switch tasks or compulsively move to low value "work," I check my Actions That Matter Template and execute off of there instead.


Goal = Publish my new course by May 2024

Actions That Matter =

  1. Write the Learning Outcomes
  2. Write the Course Outline
  3. Write a Section of the Curriculum
  4. Edit the Writing
  5. Write Handouts
  6. Design Handouts
  7. Refine Content with Reviewing Editor
  8. Shoot Video
  9. Design Marketing Materials

Check Yourself = Switching into busy work? Look at this list and execute off of it instead

I'll check in with that list a dozen times throughout the day. And when I felt myself going off track, I would hand-write out that list from scratch to reconnect with it.

That's it. It all seems so obvious. And it is!

But it does three big things for me:

Crucially, this isn't a to do list. It isn't a schedule. It isn't a project flow.

It is a template of the high-value repeatable actions that move the needle that I can frequently reference during the day to keep me doing the stuff that actually matters.

I am still refining the approach, but it's been so useful thus far, I needed to share it. (I used the same template for losing 60 lbs, and for passing 3 certification exams in the past year. I estimate that all 4 of those goals would have taken ~50% longer without this template.)

It might be a work in progress, but what isn't?

Hopefully you can use it in your own way.

Have a wonderful week!


♥️ My Favorite Idea this Week

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✍️ Quote of the Week

“Since self-control is a muscle that tires easily, it is much better to avoid temptation in the first place rather than try to resist it once it arises.”

David Brooks

October 17, 2023