Ted's Thirty Day Awakening
As both Ted and his iPad came to life—and his eyes adjusted to the glare—Ted noticed the time and shook his head. “Four AM…what am I doing up this early?”
He had not been jolted from slumber by a loud noise or a disturbing dream, he was simply “awake” and no matter how hard he tried, he just could not get back to sleep.
Ted exhaled, accepted that today was starting early, and tapped the Alexa icon. As his to-do list appeared, he was reminded just how bad his current situation had become. There were twenty-four items on his list, all screaming for attention.
“Where do I even start?” Ted asked himself. To which his inner voice replied, “Which item will get you closer to your goal? Do that.”
“Easy for you to say,” Ted replied.
Ted had always struggled with long to-do lists. He had read dozens of productivity books. He understood the 80/20 rule. He even knew that the rule’s original name, The Pareto Principle. But what he still did not understand, was how to apply the principal to a list. How do you assign a value to each task before you know its true value? In Ted’s mind, the 80/20 rule was like being a Monday Morning Quarterback, it’s easy to know what to do or how to do it after the tasks have been completed.
As Ted sat there on the edge of his bed, a knot began to tighten in his stomach.
Not wishing to remain inactive much longer, Ted read the first item on the to-do list (gather financials for lawyer) and flipped a coin. Tails. “Not doing that one,” Ted said as he moved on to the next item on the list (business proposal for JSU). This time the coin landed on heads. He would start by working on the business proposal, even though it was doubtful he would see any revenue from this project in the next twenty-nine days.
By two in the afternoon, Ted had completed ten of the items on his list. Each one selected by the toss of a coin. It may not fit the 80/20 or any other rule but for Ted not getting stuck debating what to work on next was priceless. This technique also stopped him from doing just the fun tasks leaving the harder tasks for later.
After working for eight hours straight with only a short visit to the restroom and a few minutes to heat up and eat some food, Ted was running out of energy. Luckily, he knew just what to do. Ted opened an EBOOST packet, poured the contents into a cold glass of water, and drank it down. That would help him power through the rest of the items on his list and do it without the jitters he always seemed to get from energy drinks.
Six hours later he was finishing the last item on his to-do list. But even now he still was unsure how to apply an 80/20 or a 64/4 rule to what he had just done. “I really need to find a better way than flipping a coin for choosing what task to work on,” Ted thought, and he needed to do that soon. With each passing day, he would have less time to get things done. He needed to be sure that he was working on the most important tasks or at the very least, the tasks that would improve his present situation.
Ted added “Find a better way for prioritizing tasks” to his to-do list and went to bed.