Last weekend, I wrote a review of 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More. In that book, the author, Stever Robbins, suggested something he called a “daily action pack.” Here’s my mention of it from the review:
For every short-term and medium-term project you have going on (everything less than a few months down the road), perform an action related to that project every single day without fail. He calls it an “action pack” – I call it a pretty good idea. Just keep a list of your projects with you and each day, come up with an action you can take that moves you along for that project. Write a page of that paper. Clean out that closet. File those papers. Whatever little step it is, take one of them every day.
I tried incorporating this idea into my work and personal routine this week and I have to say – it’s pretty awesome.
How does it work? Basically, you just take every project you have and break it down into bits that can be done each day. Take the daily bit from each project, lump them together, and make that lump of project bits a required part of your daily routine. Robbins calls it the “daily action pack.”
My example I’ll show you a simplified version of how I’ve been using it so perhaps you can see the power of it. (If I wrote down everything, this post would go on and on until you were bored to tears.)
Project #1 is my upcoming third book, which I’m considering self-publishing. The book has fifty short chapters to it (at least in the draft I have right now). My plan for that project is to spend a day gathering notes for each chapter, a day writing each chapter, a gap, a day revising each chapter, and a day collecting images for each chapter. That’s a 200 day plan. The chapters are somewhat weaved together, so I just wrote out a full schedule for 200 days of work on the book.
Each day, I’m tackling one of thoes 200 days on the plan as part of the “action pack.” Some days, I’ll tackle a second one if I’m really in the flow.
Project #2 involves housecleaning. We have a lot of stored stuff in several closets in our home, as well as a pile of other things that need to be done. I’m shooting to finish all of this by the second weekend of October, because we’re expecting a bunch of guests for a very long weekend.
What I did is sit down and write out a schedule for what needs to be done in terms of cleaning each day between now and then. Each day, I take that day’s bit and do it as part of the “action pack.”
Project #3 is all about piano playing. My focus is simply on spending 30 minutes practicing each day, preferably in two 15 minute batches.
So, each day, I have two more things in my “action pack” – two 15 minute piano practices.
So, my action pack for today looks like this:
1. Draft chapter 2 in my next book.
2. Pull everything out of the office closet and figure out what things to get rid of.
3. Practice “Fur Elise” for fifteen minutes.
4. Practice “Canon in D” for fifteen minutes.
I obviously have more elements than this in my real action plan. It currently includes 16 elements and will take me about two and a half hours to get through all of it.
Why? To put it simply, it’s helping me to make consistent progress on a lot of projects. My life – like yours probably is – is so chock-full of stuff that needs to get done and that I want to get done that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, especially by big challenges.
Adopting this “break it down into daily bits” philosophy is really empowering because it enables me to constantly feel the success of moving forward on the big projects in my life. When I kick back at night, I can look back on my day and note all of the big things in my life that I moved forward on – and that feels really good. Then, later, when I actually see success and completion of these things, I get another big rush.
Give it a shot. Start small, with a few projects, and commit to your own daily action pack.