Goals vs. Tasks

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You need both goals and tasks, and they’re easy to confuse. A big reason that people don’t get things on their to do list done isn’t that they procrastinate, but that the list entries aren’t really do-able.

Does your to do list look like this?

  • Design the book
  • Increase sales this month
  • Find an accountant

These are actually all goals, not tasks. A goal is reached via a series of tasks. Once you identify a goal you need to figure out what the first thing to do is. Do that, then figure out the next thing. And so on.

Here’s a real to do list based on the list above:

  • Narrow color schemes down to 2 choices and create palettes
  • Contact top three clients this week and remind them of the new products
  • Ask Maya and Rob if they can recommend an accountant

Notice that to do’s are much more specific. They are active, they have deadlines and they involve particular people. As soon as they’re done, they’re replaced by the next logical step, for example, schedule a meeting to present the color schemes, or follow up the client calls with mailed brochures.

If something is languishing on your list for weeks on end, it might be a goal. To find out, just ask yourself, well, how do I design the book?  You know the answer already; you just need to put that on the list instead.

5 Replies to “Goals vs. Tasks”

  1. Great article! Spot on. Amazing how it takes most of us a while to figure that out – that is, if we’re not taught it at an early age.

    1. Thanks! Whenever you’re stuck, it’s a good strategy to break down your task into the smallest next piece possible, like looking up a phone number. Once you do that, the next step usually becomes clear.

  2. Great article! Spot on. Amazing how it takes most of us a while to figure that out – that is, if we’re not taught it at an early age.

    1. Thanks! Whenever you’re stuck, it’s a good strategy to break down your task into the smallest next piece possible, like looking up a phone number. Once you do that, the next step usually becomes clear.

  3. Thanks for opening my eyes. Why didn’t other books teach this? For several years i have been writing lists of to-dos but accomplished very little. At the end of the day i would still be having many things in the list still uncrossed.

    I would feel guilty and thought i was really lazy and i am worth nothing. After reading this article i went back to my file holder, made by myself in which i keep my to-do lists ( i store about 3 months to – do lists in the pouch all dated and commented). …… It was an eye-opener!!! You are right! the uncrossed ones were goals not to-dos.

    This is one of my really life changing situation. In life you will sometimes come across a situation or an idea which will change entirely the way you look upon life and you will never be the same person again! Well, thanks for putting me in that situation, i now know what is a to-do and what is a project.

    Amazing article an eye-opener. Thanks a lot once again.

    Are there any books that you have written, would love to read them.

    Thanks a lot

    God bless you

    Jag

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