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Reason Achievers Are Achievers: They Plan

November 23, 1986|BONNIE McCULLOUGH | McCullough, based in Colorado, is the author of five books on home management.

What makes successful people so? They don't waste time. At a recent convention, a group of achievers was asked how they kept from wasting time. Their answers applied to both spare time and work time.

First, they don't just let things happen, they plan. They set goals. They know that the power of accomplishment comes from focusing on a target project. Their efforts are not diluted by indecision.

Productive people take a few minutes each morning to outline the day; they have regular planning and evaluation meetings with their staff and/or family. Instead of being in the reactive mode and putting out fires all the time, they make things happen. And yet, they are flexible enough to accommodate opportunities and emergencies.

If a football team only had defensive players, would they ever score? Not very often. Achievers have an offensive plan to win the day. And then, they have a back-up strategy of defensive management to handle interruptions and emergencies.

Achievers write things down. They have enough structure to give order to things, people and time, turning their dreams to action.

Geography on His Lunch Hour

Achievers use their spare time to reach some of these goals. One man uses his lunch hour to study geography. He listens to tapes as he drives to work. A change of activity regenerates his energy and stimulates his mind.

One woman reported that she keeps a shoulder bag with portable projects handy so that she can grab it if called to go someplace where she may have to wait.

Create the habit of doing some little project with your hands while talking on the phone such as straightening the desk or polishing the furniture.

When the whistle blows and work is over, achievers score points during their discretionary time. For example, one father, instead of watching sports every Monday evening, spent a couple hours playing with and teaching his children. If he spent just one night a week for 17 years with his children, that would probably be the equivalent of a college education.

Achievers have learned to accomplish things in spite of interruptions. They eliminate some and work around others. When they are stopped for one reason or another, they go right back to the job they were doing. When the task is well defined, it is easy.

Keep phone calls short and to the subject. Conversations longer than 10 minutes turn into a meeting or gossip. Seek a balance.

Achievers don't procrastinate or put things off. Do it now is their philosophy. Don't save anything for later that you can do now. Productive people force themselves to start a project, knowing that motivation doesn't usually come until after they get into the job.

Giving Credit Where It's Due

Achievers know how to delegate, to let go of a project and follow up without taking over. They show appreciation and give credit for a job well done.

Achievers organize their routine duties so they don't have to spend a lot of time thinking about them. They put things away and straighten wherever they go. They work neatly so that there isn't a big mess when they have finished a project. Supplies and equipment are organized so they are easy to find. They have a regular time to deal with paper.

Achievers finish projects as soon as possible. The closure principle is a psychological term that has to do with a person's intrinsic drive to finish things. It's the urgency to get the library books back and the promptings to finish the ironing or balance the checkbook. It's a desire to get the dishes done or to keep a room tidy. Why? Because they like to be done with something; it makes them feel relieved to check it off. Organized people have this trait; disorganized people can learn it. Setting goals and working with a to-do-list can help finish things until you feel that compulsion on your own. It feels good to be reasonably organized.

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