How to See Results
Full disclosure: this is not an article about how to GET results, although it is closely related, and the methods here discussed will help to get results. This is about how to SEE results.
Often we go about our busy day with a bucket load of to-dos, all of them absolute top #1 priority, and we do our best to accomplish what we can, and apply a myriad of strategies to how to re-prioritize and shuffle things to make the best use of tomorrow, where we start by moving up the ladder yesterday’s undone #1 priority items and making them today’s double-#1s.
But here’s a question, can you name the things you did yesterday? or last week? or last month?
I knew a salesman who had a habit of writing every single task that he had to accomplish on its own index card. Then, when he finished the task, he would move it over to a spindle (remember those?) and go on to the next item. Very GTD. Then, he showed me a very large stack of finished items, hundreds of index cards, each one represented something that he had done. You should have seen the look of pride on his face!
Now these cards held things like “make phone call to Sam” or “Right up proposal for XYZ corp”, mundane stuff, really. But this salesman realized that these little things are what all go into making up a successful outcome. It’s not landing a single huge account, but chipping away at dozens and dozens of small things.
What’s interesting is that, while he COULD have focused on the fact that he had dozens of little things that he had to do, each with minimal reward, in and of itself, he didn’t look at it that way. Instead, he made a game of it, and was able to see his score any time he wanted. And this made him feel GOOD, and it kept him chugging along on his work, leading to an admirable success.
Game designers understand this principle. The ability to see one’s score in a game constantly increase is a huge draw for players, inciting multiple mouse clicks and button mashes. But hey’re no the only ones who harness the power of tracking.
There a great website I use called 750 Words (750words.com) that helps me to write every day. Not only is there a clear goal set, 750 words, but there is a great tracking system including badges for writing so many days in a row. My favorite technique that they use, though, is the row of boxes at the top of the page, one for each day of the month that you are in. If you wrote 750 words on a given day, the box gets a big “X” in it. Very satisfying, and motivating! I don’t want to break the chain of X’s, so I really push myself to write.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be index cards, or boxes with X’s. It doesn’t have to be tic-marks on a wall, or a running list in a book. But it can be. Just choose a method that you will keep working with, and that will give you a visible representation of your accomplished work, something that you can be proud of, and that gives you a trail of how you got from there to here, as well as points out which direction you are currently headed.
Don’t let your good work vanish. Celebrate the little victories. Be proud of achieving.
I would love to hear your experience with this. Please leave a comment on how you’ve implemented this sort of thing, or any technique that helps you. And, thanks for your time.