[su_dropcap style=”flat”]T[/su_dropcap]HERE’S SOMETHING COMPELLING about a well-timed book with relevant content, isn’t there? That’s what drew me to this particular book, published at the entrance to a new year. Not because it’s about making resolutions but because it’s not. In Organize Tomorrow Today, the authors break out their program used to train world-class athletes for peak performance. If you know anything about athletes, you know that it isn’t just physical endurance that’s required, it takes focus, concentration, and high mental performance to win championships. Framing your thoughts can literally manufacture optimism and success. Thoughts won’t change anything but acting on them will. Here’s the program.
Have you ever taken a class or even garnered best practices for productivity from articles and books, but they didn’t seem to help? The authors of this book tackle productivity issues in a much more logical way. Skill mastery is achieved through repetitions, one step at a time. That might not be new, but how we get to mastery level could be. We learn that lining up a set of skills we want to improve and bombarding ourselves with compulsions to master all of them, is a recipe for failure. This program works on the premise of choosing one thing at a time and being accountable for that one thing until conquered. The authors explain the concept of channel capacity and how so many professionals try to change too many things too quickly. They over-stuff their channel capacity.
This book discusses eight simple, concrete concepts:
- Organize Tomorrow Today
- Choose Wisely
- Maximize your Time endorsed
- Build and Break Your Habits
- Evaluate Correctly
- Learn How to Talk to Yourself
- Learn How to Talk With Others
- Become Abnormal
But of those eight, “The ‘law’ of human channel capacity pretty much dictates that three of these ideas will successfully be incorporated into [your] improvement strategy.”
In a summary at the end of each chapter, the authors invite readers to reflect on what they’ve just read. It’s an interesting way to advocate working on this particular concept. If you can only work on one to three things at a time, which concepts are likely to provide desired professional advancement?
- The Big Why seeks to provide the impetus for taking on this challenge. What will you gain if you master this concept?
- The Inversion Test is an effort to get readers to see the other side this concept. What will you lose out on if you don’t master this concept?
- Act Now is like having run out of excuses, then hearing the coach say, “This is where you start.” If you choose to work on mastery of this concept, these are first steps.
This book review will scrape the details from each chapter and disseminate the primary points I found most valuable.
Organize Tomorrow Today: Ask anyone, “How’s things?” They will tell you they are busy, too busy. Admit it. Busy and productive are not the same thing. If you’re going to be busy, be busy doing the right things, the important things, and the things that have the most value. Prioritizing is not overrated. Productive people do the most important things first. The way to be sure they are completing the most important things is to plan for them and make a conscious decision to work on them. Plan your tomorrow the day before so you are intentional, not reactional.
Choose Wisely: Remember these two words. Channel Capacity If there is too much going on in a channel, stress builds, vision gets clouded, follow-through suffers, and energy is depleted. Over commitment, assuming too many responsibilities, taking on too many tasks, a million distractions all seep into our lives until Channel Capacity is saturated to overflowing. You must learn to choose wisely. We are programmed to do more, be more, get it all on a list so we see all the possible things we need to get done. Instead we are paralyzed by the volume of what needs to be done. Cut your addiction to busy and choose wisely the few things you want to master – then methodically step-by-step work through the program till you’ve nailed it.
Believe in the power of Channel Capacity. “Focusing on one thing promotes action. Learn to do less, but more often.”
Maximize your Time: What can you do with 3 minutes? “Nothing” is not the correct answer. Tools for maximizing your time are 1) Attack the open space; 2) Prioritize your priorities; 3) Trim the fat
Think of spare moments as open space and decide what you can fit into it. If you keep a running to-do list nearby, if you find a few minutes of open space, you might knock out a few ancillary tasks. If you’ve “organized tomorrow today” you pre-determine what you will focus on the next day. This means you will not just be managing your time, you will be consciously maximizing it.
Prioritize the priorities is pretty much self-explanatory, but here’s the key to getting this concept mastered. There are two scales of priorities, “micro” referring to small individual tasks and “macro” which are categories. There are two categories of productive behavior, “short-term revenue collection” and “long-term revenue cultivation”. Most people find it easier to pay attention to short-term activities, but are weak in the area of long-term. Both need daily focus which means accurately prioritizing and acting on things that are a priority.
Trim the fat is another way of saying stop allowing schedule bloat. When you have become a master of maximizing your time, you will be spending less time on activities, working efficiently, building a healthy respect for time, and you will have kicked procrastination to the curb.
Build and Break Your Habits: We are all creatures of habit, right? This chapter was the most meaningful to me because I know how easily I fall back into old patterns, and how it seems like I have to “fight-thru” the terrain to make a good habit second nature. As it turns out, this is how all new habits are formed and old habits are broken. It really has components of a battle
The mere act of recognizing the phases of habit formation when you see them and calling them out to yourself is a huge positive step and will provide a major boost in energy.“
There are three phases we go through on the way to forming habits. The ‘Honeymoon’ when we glide through the first few days or maybe weeks of practicing a new habit (or rejecting an old one). Then it gets tough and we almost feel like we are in a battle with our will and our emotions. It takes so much energy and resolve to ‘Fight-thru’ to the next phase when what was new becomes ‘Second Nature’.
Remember, every time you win a fight-thru, the next one gets easier to win.”
Evaluate Correctly: This concept is probably one of the most critical for anyone who is serious about making improvements in performance. Whether an athlete, business person, teacher, or parent you must be able to sit with yourself and, as though looking through a mirror, honestly inspect yourself and evaluate your performance. What are you doing right? What do you need to do differently? This isn’t a one time and done event. It’s a consistent activity necessary for persistent positive growth.
Listen. There are wholesome ways and there are toxic ways to evaluate yourself. If not properly administered, we can easily erode our self-confidence and start a vicious cycle of defeat fed by over-inflated failures. This book is a goldmine for creating an environment of appropriate principles and methods for effective personal assessments.
Learn How to Talk to Yourself: What happens when you tell yourself “I am strong. I am healthy. I can do this. I can keep going.” What happens when you tell yourself, “What was I thinking? I am tired. I’m never going to get there. I should stop. Why bother?” Just as polarized as those statements are, is the outcome of repeating them until you believe them. What you focus on grows larger. If you want to enhance your self-image you will talk to yourself about what you do well and you will concentrate on solutions instead of problems. This chapter is a primer for visualization. If you can learn to visualize what you want to happen you are in essence preparing your mind and body to do it. Exercise your mental faculties with cognitive practices to build your brain and intellect. Using the 5-part mental workout is a strategy you can apply to train yourself to become a model of mental toughness and high-level performance.
Learn How to Talk With Others: Communication with others spans every generation and every nuance of life. Communication is a hefty share of how things get done. “To consistently win at the highest level, you have to be able to communicate effectively, with details.” You might not be a gifted, naturally charismatic speaker, but you can learn to prepare and deliver a presentation with confidence. This chapter lays it all out of you. How to be prepared and speak up with confidence. Here, in this chapter, are coaches techniques for guiding your audience to identify with and understand the messages you are conveying; deliver your messages in a way that compels action.
Become Abnormal: I didn’t see this one coming, but it’s true. “Normal is fine. Acceptable. Average. But if you want to do great things, you need to be abnormal.” Most people will pick up a book like this, or they’ll decide to jump into new venture, or start to work on a goal, but quickly become disillusioned when setbacks occur. Others won’t even kick start a change because they are waiting for just the right timing or for the stars to align. The authors have cleverly identified and described three performance viruses that you want to avoid. If you see symptoms, stay calm, keep your perspective, and apply an effective antidote. Use your imagination or personal experience to imagine the symptoms, which you can of course get straight from the book. I’ll throw in one antidote for each virus.
Virus #1 The trap of the viable excuse. Antidote: If you’re truly committed to improvement you will be accountable for what you do, even in adverse circumstances. No excuses. Not even those that seem legitimate.
Virus #2 Focusing on what you can’t control. Frustration is the byproduct of “can’t control”. Write a list of things you can and cannot control. Do this early so you are ready in advance when things you cannot control creep in.
Virus #3 Giving into problem-centric thought. Stop! Stop thinking about the problems and replace those thoughts with possibilities. If you direct your thoughts from the problems your brain releases a new set of neurotransmitters and you will soon feel more positive.
When we focus on small, incremental improvements instead of perfection, the human spirit takes over, and all things become much more possible.”