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Here's where his impressive start began to fizzle. "I'm not sure how to get that done," he admitted.
"By identifying that goal and making it a priority, you've already done the most important thing," I told him. "Now you need to figure out how many promotions you'll need to write to give yourself a better than even chance of coming up with two winners."
He asked several experienced copywriters who have done it and found out that, on the average, you have to write six promotions in order to come up with two controls.
"Okay," I said. "You are on to something. To come up with two controls in one year, you're going to have to write a new promotion every two months. Now you need to break down the steps that it takes to write a promotion." And so he did:
1. Get the assignment.
2. Research the product.
3. Research past promotions.
4. Hold a brainstorming session.
5. Create two or three proposals.
6. Get them approved.
7. Write the promotion.
8. Get it critiqued.
9. Rewrite it.
10. Get it mailed.
By breaking the goal down into individual tasks, Andy could clearly see that he had to get started right away if he intended to achieve it by the end of the year. He'll have to go through this 10-step process six times— and that will keep his monthly, weekly, and even daily schedule very full.
54 AUTOMATIC WEALTH
the morning when the office is quiet and still. Here’s the early morning routine that works best for me:
Get Your Inputs (5 to 10 minutes)
I start the day by scanning my daily task list, which I have written the night before. If for some reason I haven’t prepared a task list, I do it then, based on my weekly list of objectives. I then scan my e-mail, not responding to anything but noting responses that will need to be made and putting some of them down on my daily task list. I do the same with the in-box that sits on my desk. Finally, I retrieve any phone messages and if one of them requires action, make note of it on my daily task list.
I make it a point to not do any work now (send out a quick e-mail response or return phone messages) because I know if I do I’ll get caught up in a lot of small stuff that will bog me down and drain my energy. Instead, I devote this input time to polishing off my daily task list. As soon as that’s done, I move on to the next step.
Sort and Prioritize (5 to 10 minutes)
Now comes the fun part. Assuming my daily to-do list has already been completed, I indicate for each task the approximate amount of time I expect it will take to complete it. I always try to be realistic in my estimations of time required. Over the years, I’ve trained myself to be very conservative.
As a general rule, I break up tasks into 15-, 30-, 45-minute, and 1-hour increments. But every once in a while (such as right now, while I’m writing this book), I allow myself 2 or 2>2 hours for a single task.
I generally like to prioritize my tasks in terms of their importance and urgency. This idea is based on the quadrant developed by Steven Covey in his popular 7 Habits books. He identifies tasks as being
Effective people plan their time in tight time segments. They think in terms of 10- and 15-minute blocks. They plan every day in detail, in advance. They make every minute count. As a result, they accomplish vastly more than the average person, and they feel much better about themselves.
—Focal Point by Brian Tracy (American Management Association, 2001)
Step 2: Plan to Become Wealthy 55
either (1) Important and Urgent, (2) Important but not Urgent, (3) Unimportant but Urgent, or (4) Unimportant and not Urgent.
If we work with this idea, your daily schedule should be focused mainly on (1) and (2) tasks, because these require immediate attention or will advance you toward your ultimate goals. Your schedule should contain a diminishing number of (3) tasks (since they indicate that you are not in control of your schedule), and no (4) tasks at all.
You could also assign priorities based on a well-known organizational technique known as the ABCDE method. It goes like this:
• An A task is something that is important, something you must do.
• A B task is something you should do, yet it’s not an A.
• A C task is something that would be nice to do, but it won’t change your life in a radical way.
• A D task is something that should be delegated.
• And, finally, an E task is something that shouldn’t be done at all. It should be eliminated from your task list.
Another way to set priorities is to think in terms of the old 80/20 rule. As applied to productivity, the rule says that 80 percent of the things you do every day contribute to only 20 percent of the progress you make. But that means 20 percent of what you do is responsible for 80 percent of your success. For our purposes, the way to use the 80/20 rule is to scan the tasks on your to-do list and highlight the 20 percent (the 2 out of 10 or 4 out of 20) that will make a giant difference in your life. If you are thinking right, the tasks you highlight will be the ones that support your life goals.