How to ditch your to-do list

This article was originally published by Tony on LinkedIn as part of its #ProductivityHacks series.

Are you frustrated that you have not been able to take the vision of what you want and make it real? Do you ever wonder why you are working so hard and still not attaining the achievement and satisfaction your efforts deserve?

These days, it seems that greater demands are being placed on our personal and professional lives than ever before, and many of us are struggling to stay afloat, let alone thrive. And a big reason why we continue to find ourselves spinning our wheels is that we are still trying to manage our lives with the same outdated conventions that our parents and grandparents used decades ago.

What you need to understand is that there is a big difference between movement and achievement.

The biggest problem with to-do lists is that focusing only on what you need to get done does not guarantee that you’re actually making any real progress. To-do lists can keep you busy, of course, and there is a certain sense of satisfaction you get from checking off a series of tasks. But have you ever crossed off everything on your list and still felt like you had not really accomplished anything?

The RPM system is different from any other time or life management system out there. In fact, it’s not a time or life management system at all. It’s a system of thinking. And it works by focusing you on the key results that are most important in your life — not on your activity or to-do list.

To help you better understand the RPM system and philosophy, I break it down to its three main components:

Your Focus & Clarity

The first component of the RPM system is focus. Too often we forget what our real result or outcome is and we start thinking instead that we have to write out a to-do list to make it happen. You have to get crystal clear about what it is that you want. The clearer you are about what it is you want, the easier it is to achieve it, because then you can design all of your activity around making progress toward achieving it. Think of your brain like a heat-seeking missile. Whatever the outcome may be, your brain can figure out how to get there and your behavior will adjust accordingly.

Your Purpose

Once you know what it is you really want (i.e., your result or outcome), you need to associate to why you want to do it — your purpose for wanting to achieve this result. This is one of the most important parts of the process because without it you lose your emotional drive. Without it you have more stress, which can cause you to give up when the inevitable challenges arise. But if you’ve got a strong enough reason and a strong enough purpose, you will find a way to pull it off.

How many times have you been trying to achieve an outcome, but for whatever reason you were unable to get it? Have you ever had your plans interrupted? Whether or not you keep trying depends on your purpose.

The “why” is the most important thing to know because that’s where all of the emotional juice and fuel is to keep you going when the challenges show up. And if you have a big enough why, you will figure out a way of how to do it.

Your Massive Action Plan

Now that you have a clear, specific result or outcome and a compelling purpose to drive you to follow through, you still need a plan to make it happen. That’s why the third component of the RPM system is about developing your Massive Action Plan, or your MAP.

Your MAP is simply the specific steps, or actions, you need to take in order to achieve your result. The beauty of the RPM system is the flexibility your MAP provides!

First, you will discover that there are many ways to achieve a result. And this also means that if one set of actions doesn’t work, then another will.

Second, you don’t have to accomplish every single action item in your MAP in order to achieve your result. You’ll find that most often, a small number of actions make the biggest difference in your ability to achieve your result. This is the 80/20 rule — where 20% of what you do in life usually makes 80% of the difference.

Commit to RPM

Now that you understand the building blocks of the RPM system, it’s up to you to make the decision to commit the time, energy and resources to master it. To continue to manage your life by a to-do list only invites the continuing imbalance and frustration that comes from knowing you’re working hard, but that you’re not making progress in all the areas of your life that truly matter.

Working harder is not the answer. It’s time to put your life to work for you at a whole new level. With consistent use of this time management training system, the Rapid Planning Method will provide you with the opportunity to not only manage your time, but to consciously sculpt your life into the masterpiece you deserve.

Image©Tsyhun/Shutterstock

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