My head has been spinning with To Do’s. I think much of my anxiety from running a small business comes from not having my act together. Instead of following a regimen of neatly compiled goals, priorities and tasks, my approach is more of a whirling dervish of activity with my heart in the right place, but my mind everywhere else.

Apparently, the universe thinks so, too.

Instead of hanging out and imbibing last night, which is typical of a Friday evening for me, I took our new Golden Doodle, Hazel, for a long walk along a dark canal in Phoenix to sort things out. Earbuds inserted, I tuned into the latest Social Pros podcast episode. This one featured leadership coach David Horsager, who has a new book called The Daily Edge: Simple Strategies to Increase Efficiency and Make an Impact Every Day.

daily-edge-bookJust what I needed.

To create a new habit of focus and productivity, Horsager talked about starting with a 90-Day Quick Plan. He pointed at that the old saw of changing a habit in 21 days, although an enticing promise from motivational speakers of the 1960’s, doesn’t really work. And long-term strategic planning is no longer as effective in today’s business world where things seem to change day-to-day.

The 90-Day Quick Plan is long enough to form the impactful habits you need to be successful in the long run, and yet is short enough to be accomplished and demonstrate real progress. We all like to know when we’re actually achieving our goals.

To achieve those goals, Horsager recommends the daily ritual of identifying your top 5 most important Difference-Making Actions (DMA’s), and then taking action on them first. DMA’s simply give focus and intentionality to do the most important things first every day.

“This simple strategy will increase results like nothing else,” he coaches. And he says that you can usually get through them by 11 am most mornings. I can only imagine how rewarding lunch would feel if I was that productive on truly meaningful items to start my day.

It’s not enough to write down your DMA’s daily, he cautions. You have to make them quantifiable by attaching a number to the action. For instance, instead of saying that you will call more prospects, your DMA would say that you are going to call 10 prospects. Or, you’re not going to write a blog post, but you are going to spend 40 minutes writing the blog post.

Making DMA’s quantifiable makes them real to your mind with a numerical goal to accomplish with each one. Horsager talks about trust being found in clarity and lost in ambiguity. To me, this approach to the DMA’s creates the kind of clarity our storytelling minds need to trust in the action we need to take, and to reward itself when the measured mission is complete.

After my walk with Hazel, I downloaded The Daily Edge enhanced edition, which includes ten short videos of Horsager reinforcing many of his 35 productivity-enhancing tips.

The beauty of the book is that each chapter averages around three pages in length. It is the embodiment of efficiency: personal productivity wisdom delivered in bite sized chunks.

I read through the book in an hour this morning, and decided to write this post to cement the two most important concepts, at least to me, and share them with you:

  1. The 90-Day Quick Plan
  2. DMA’s: Difference-Making Actions

And, I only took my prescribed 40 minutes to write this post.

Now, Horsager may argue that I am just procrastinating. My #1 DMA for this morning is to draft my 90-Day Quick Plan, and the second most important DMA is to create my five DMA’s to start making it happen today.

The one other tip I am employing immediately is the mind mapping activity (See whirling dervish above). The idea is to get my thoughts out from between my ears and into the world. Poet Billy Collins said it best, which Horsager quotes in his book:

“The mind can be trained to relieve itself on paper.”

Man, that says it. Just ask Hazel.

Thank you Jay, David and the universe for bringing me this brief, yet vigorous wealth of timely productivity insight.

I’ve drunk it in and am ready to roll.