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Ugh stop talking already.  Unless it’s about making me fajitas…I love fajitas.

Habits are really hard to develop.  One of the few habits I’ve been able to develop is to shut my mouth and start doing things instead.  In other words, I became a more action-oriented person.  Once you become an action-oriented person you look upon all the talkers of the world and grimace. In conversations with them you often find yourself wanting to interrupt all the complaining they are doing and demand “ok all that’s great but what’s your next actionable step?”

Being a former talker non-actioner myself I can attest to how natural and secretly rewarding it feels to complain and talk instead of attacking on the next actionable step.  It can feel natural because projects are large and can take a lot of different ambiguous steps to accomplish them.  It involves multiple people and with more people comes more opportunity to pass blame, to gossip, complain and dilute responsibilities.  Don’t be this person.  Be the person that gets projects done consistently, reliably and efficiently. Be the person that leaves work at 6pm while the talkers stay till 10pm frantically trying to figure out how to close out their projects.

If you are a talker or are looking for a way to become more effective at work here are a few tips:

  1. Start looking at projects and tasks as a series of small tasks that need to be completed in sequential order. To advance on a project you have to tackle the next actionable step.  The next actionable step is one that gets you closer to completion of the project and is typically easy to identify.
  2. Instead of writing to-do lists, start writing next actionable step lists. This forces you to get away from ambiguity and focus on concrete steps.  This was the most important habit I developed.
  3. Shut up
  4. Complete the tasks that are the most uncomfortable to complete first such as making calls, meeting new people or learning something new. These are often direct actions (as opposed to indirect actions).
  5. When you identify or are assigned a new project, draft a list of all actionable steps that will get you there, focusing mostly on the first ones to complete. Your later actionable steps will change as you complete and learn from the earlier ones.  The important thing is that you start acting.
  6. Eat that frog first thing every day.

The goal here is to be able to complete more in less time, freeing you up to enjoy more of life.  If you’re lucky you’ll have enough time to complete all the things this guy is doing in 2015.

God Bless America,