Michael Linenberger might be a best-selling author, but I found Master Your Workday Now to be a bit of a slog, at least at the start; I only finished it today because it's due at the library tomorrow! However, that doesn't mean there weren't plenty of interesting ideas.
Part 1: Day to Day Task Management
Linenberger believes that looking at a huge to do list every day is too overwhelming. Therefore, he suggests you have three lists; items are added to the different lists based on urgency, not importance.
1. Critical Now
These are the must-do-today items - the things you would stay late at the office to finish. This list would rarely contain more than 5 items.
2. Opportunity Now
These are things you want to start as the opportunity presents itself - sometime this week or next. You look at this list daily, and you want to keep it to no more than 20 items.
Note: Items 1 and 2 make up the Now Tasks list, and they include only "next actions," as David Allen uses the term. So they won't be complex multipart tasks, but rather simple tasks like "Write e-mail to Client A about subject X."
3. Over the Horizon
These are items that you can "chill out" about for right now. This list gets reviewed weekly.
Well, at least that's how the concept starts out - pretty simple. But then Linenberger adds an optional Target Now section to the Opportunity Now list - this is for the items you'd really like to do today.
He also says you might want to split the Over the Horizon list into multiple Over the Horizon lists, based on how often you want to review the items on that list; the rationale here is that people just don't tend to review long lists on a weekly basis. So the single Over the Horizon list may become:
- Over the Horizon: Review Weekly
- Over the Horizon: Review Monthly
- Over the Horizon: Review Every 3 Months
- Over the Horizon: Review Every 6 Months
- Over the Horizon: Review Every 12 Months
And there's a third enhancement: He adds a list of Significant Outcomes (SOCs) to the top of the Now Tasks list. These are the larger efforts - what David Allen would call projects, but which may not be "projects" as most people think of that word - that you want to complete (or make major progress on) during the week.
OK, it's still not that complex - and the graphics in the book (which are also available on the web site, if you give Linenberger your e-mail address) are helpful.
Linenberger does not believe in scheduling calendar time to do specific tasks, in most situations; one exception could be if a task is going to take a chunk of time, and the deadline is looming. But if you're not finding enough time to work on tasks during normal business hours, he suggests adding a one- to two-hour appointment with yourself, just called Tasks, to your calendar each day.
What about tasks you've delegated? Rather than having a Waiting For list, Linenberger creates tasks for doing follow-up activities, and places them on the appropriate lists.
Part II: Goals
In Part II of this book, Linenberger moves beyond the day-to-day task management to talk about goals: goals that incorporate a vision, and a target (but not a timeframe). Many of his examples have to do with earning more money (and often buying more things), such as this one:
I just received a fantastic raise of 25 percent. That means I can now buy that convertible I have been longing for - I can see myself now, driving down the coast, the sun in my face, the wind in my hair,. What a sweet experience this is! I am also going out to dinner every weekend - I love great food.But other sample goals, also dealing with money, focus on other benefits: security, freedom, etc. And Linenberger also gives examples of goals dealing with things like losing weight.
Linenberger then has you "activate" your goals through "positive visualization" - you "spend a few minutes each day reading and visioning" those goals.
Part III: Connections
And finally, in Part III, Linenberger talks about "connecting your work with who you really are" - connecting with a larger vision, with your own intuition, with your (current) life's work, and with your personal mission. In both this section and the one on goals, Linenberger writes extensively about the power of the subconscious.
Throughout this book, Linenberger acknowledges being influenced by many other thinkers, and there's an extensive resource listing at the end of the book.
Does any of this resonate with you? Has anyone tried any of these approaches? I'd love to hear your thoughts!