Using Outcome Thinking to Get Important Things Done

weWellcare Energy Management, Productivity

By Steven Edwards, M.S.

Outcome Thinking is one of the most effective ways available for making wishes reality. It involves determining what we must get done, and effectively organizing to take action on those things.

Ever have the experience of thinking of something you have to do and putting it off until next week, then next week comes and you put it off another week? Some of us have this experience daily or several times a day! Tasks (especially those we may shy away from) can end up being placed on indefinite hold. But somehow, they tend to pop up again and again in our minds and nag. We think “Oh yeah, I have to get that done!” and postpone it for another week.

It’s a waste of time and energy to keep thinking about something that you’re not making progress on. It only adds to your anxieties about what you should be doing and aren’t.

The things that command our attention daily, the “stuff” in our lives, isn’t inherently a bad thing. But if we are constantly rearranging incomplete lists of unclear things, we accomplish very little, we miss out on many of the rewards of life, and the stuff becomes “an amorphous blob of undoability.”

Organizing Information that We Must Act Upon

When stuff comes into our life it is critical to define and clarify its meaning. We must organize the stuff into actionable items that we are committed to doing. It’s important to think in terms of NOW ACTION relative to task management. The key to managing your “stuff” is managing your actions through outcome based thinking.

Some “stuff” translates into single action items requiring only one step to completion. If you can complete a single action item quickly, within a couple of minutes, just do it. Get it done.

Some of the “stuff” requires multiple steps to complete. Action items with more than one step are “projects”. It is important to remember that we can’t “do” projects. We can only do an action related to a project. If we look at a project as task, the result if overwhelm. The means to project completion is to outline project steps and then take action on those steps, one step at a time.

Getting Stuff Done

When a situation, task, or project comes to mind that you feel has importance, usefulness or some significance, write it down.

Describe in a single written sentence what your intended successful outcome would be to the problem or situation. In other words, what do you need to DO to check off the project off as completed? Vividly picture in your mind your desired “feel good” outcome for this project.

Write down the actionable steps required to complete the project.

Determine the next action required to move your project forward and DO IT. If you only had this one thing in your life to do, to get closure on, where would you go right now and what visible action would you take to complete it?

Take action.

Forming an mental image of your complete tasks and projects, feeling the feeling of completing the task, clarifying what needs to be done NOW on the front end (rather than the back end after trouble has developed!), and taking the first step towards project/task completion allows you to reap the vast benefits of effective managed action!

Simple Time Management

Around 100 years ago, Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel, a company owned by Dale Carnegie, was approached by Ivy Lee, a well-known efficiency expert of that time. Lee told Schwab he could help Bethlehem Steel improve employee efficiency and sales. Schwab told Lee that he needed his people to take more action on projects.

Lee told Schwab to write down on a small piece of paper the five things he needed to take care of right away, and then to mark them off in their order of importance starting with the most urgent first, focusing on each item on the list one at a time and working to completion. Then moving on to the next and accomplishing it. Lee encouraged Schwab to apply the idea, get his employees using it, and then to send him a check for what he thought the idea was worth.

Schwab applied this simple concept of listing important to-do’s, prioritizing them, and getting them done one at a time each and every day. The executives at Bethlehem Steel were advised to apply the concept. Three months later after studying the results of his team using this idea, Schwab was so pleased he sent Lee a check for $25,000. At this time the average worker was making $2 a day. Lee was paid $1,000 a minute for the 25 minutes he spent with Schwab, which in today’s dollars is closer to $10,000 a minute in pay, or $250,000 total payment.

Try this out these concepts. See the benefit.