List It or Lose It (Part 2 of 2)

  • By Shawn Sommerkamp
  • 31 Mar, 2017

In the previous message, we covered the Zeigarnik Effect and how the brain naturally wants to complete tasks once started. The age-old To Do List (TDL) becomes a powerful tool to manage stress and increase work efficiency. Now let’s cover different types of TDL’s and identify software tools that revolutionize their use.

Tip #1 Keep your To Do Lists in a consistent place

It’s one thing to get it out of your brain and onto paper (or a computer screen). It’s another to have little scraps of paper littered across your office. In order to get the most out of TDL’s, keep them in one place that is easy to find and easy to reference. You can use one type of notebook or even use NotePad on your PC or TextEdit on your Mac. Keep all actions in one list and location. If you allow your TDL’s to be in various locations, it might add more stress.

Tip #2 Group Actions by Context

You can create a list and assemble them in different groups or categories. Doing it this way allows your brain to chunk activities together making them not only easier to remember, but also easier to create. Here are a few group TDL examples:

Tip #3 Think of actions in a new way

There are amazing productivity tools that you can use that help create a paradigm shift in the way you see your tasks. These are my favorite by far! One I use with my Executive Coaching Clients is the Action Priority Worksheet. It groups your TDL based on the impact it will have in relation to the level of effort to complete. By using this matrix, your tasks are placed into a visual grid in one of the following categories.

  • Quick Wins: most attractive tasks that provide a good return for little effort
  • Major Projects: good returns but lengthy to complete and may crowd out many Quick Wins
  • Fill Ins: tasks you can stop worrying about and just do in your spare time
  • Hard Slogs: want to do last (or delegate) since they give low returns and crowd out time better used elsewhere

Tip #4 Put a reminder in your calendar to create TDL’s

Developing the habit of creating and using TDL’s may take time. If you are not used to using TDL’s, create a reminder in your Outlook, iCal or Google calendar. Start with doing it once per week at the beginning of the week. Then, as you get more proficient, start making a daily TDL.

Tip #5 Consider using a software app

There are so many software apps on the market designed for tracking action items that are amazing! Most follow the freemium model (use a free dumbed-down version then buy full featured version). Explore which tool works best for you by trying a new one each week. You will find the perfect fit in no time. I found mine in Todoist. It follows me on every digital device I use. If I update a list on my phone, it automatically updates on my tablet and my laptop and vice versa. Here are a few more to consider:

  • Wunderlist
  • do
  • Google Keep
  • Google Tasks
  • Evernote
  • OneNote Mobile
  • Toodledo

If you believe God has called you into the workforce as His place for you to shine, then managing a To Do List is critical. By getting your activities out of your head and into a common place of reference, you not only stay organized, you also reduce stress. If you’re not used to managing a list, keep trying. You will soon learn how much you are capable of accomplishing for God’s glory.

Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience.  He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to use their career to glorify God and support local church growth.

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By Shawn Sommerkamp 10 Jan, 2018

Shawn Sommerkamp, speaking to the Charleston Church of Christ at the New Year's Eve church service Dec 31, 2017.

By Shawn Sommerkamp 10 Jan, 2018

Targeted goal-setting is powerful and effective. It helps us keep clarity of outcome. Breaking big desires down into smaller, achievable goals makes success achievable. The biggest challenges are overcome as we make a series of small goals that, collectively, lead to big outcomes. 

And yet, just setting a bunch of goals can often be discouraging when we don’t reach them. Ever wonder why we often fall short? It’s because the goals weren’t smart! I’m not talking about whether the goals are stupid or intelligent either. I’m talking about a simple way of thinking about an activity designed to help us achieve results. It’s called S.M.A.R.T. and it stands for the following:

By David Mitchell 09 Jan, 2018

It’s early January. 

The Holidays are over. 

It can feel like we go from the ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ to the most challenging time of the year. 

A more appropriate lyric, now that it is time to make resolutions & get back to work, could be one of the following… 

‘It’s The Most: 

  - Stressful
  - Sad
  - Crazy busy
  - Cash poor
  - Lonely
  - Weight Gaining
  - Overrated

 …Time Of The Year.’`

It’s not that you are ‘Bah Humbug’…

You want to enjoy it, but it can feel more like “I just want to get through it.”

Although your MIND knows that God’s will for you (according to 1 Th 5:16-18) is to:

“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances…”  

...your HEART can lag behind & this simple command can seem overwhelming.

Sometimes you can put your finger on what’s dragging you down & other times it’s more elusive ~ not really sure what’s keeping things from being ‘Wonderful’.

By Shawn Sommerkamp 20 Nov, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:18   Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

Give thanks, no matter what is happening in your life.  This is easy…right? 

A national polling firm named Penn, Schoen, & Berland conducted a survey, mid-2012, evaluating American attitude toward thankfulness. They conducted more than 2,000 interviews across the US general population. I’m only going to share a few pieces of the overall report:    

  • 90% of people said they would describe themselves as people who are generally grateful for their family and friends
  • However, only 52% of women and 44% of men express any thankfulness regularly
  • 60% say when they do express thankfulness, they do it to make themselves feel good

Where is the one place people are least likely to express gratitude? WORK 

  • 74% of the 2000 respondents never or rarely show gratitude at work (for anything)
  • 70% want their boss to be thankful for them (even though they don’t express thanks)
  • 81% would work harder if they were thanked by their boss or company 

Based on this survey, that hardest circumstance to give thanks exists in and around the workplace. Isn’t that amazing? The place we spend the most waking hours (about 2,200 hours per year, about 110,000 hours in working lifespan) we aren’t thankful for.  Wow! 

The truth is our career is not just a way to make a living - it’s a way to transform the world. It’s the place God placed us so that we could make the biggest difference in our service to him.

By Dave Mitchell 17 Nov, 2017

Do you remember when these 3D-Hidden Object posters came out? They were quite the RAVE…

They were not what they appeared to be at first glance… If you wanted to understand what the poster was really about, you had to stop what you were doing, get real close to it – focus on it, and back away very slowly… and then – like magic – 3D images would appear / seemingly emerge right off of the paper (3D effect). The embedded 3D images were disguised and hidden to the untrained/unfocused eyes.

Some people (me included sometimes) would get frustrated if we could not see the 3D images fast enough – some were easier than others… and missed the ‘magic’ of the poster.

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