The way you use your time is the way you live your life.
Verbs are important! Who’s the last person that uttered that phrase to you? I’m guessing it may have been a long-ago teacher, extolling the virtues of action verbs and encouraging you to make your writing more vivid and engaging.
Other than that late-elementary-school moment, I bet it’s not a subject that has come up again, unless you write for a living. But I’m here to tell you that, when it comes to finding time, the words that we use are very important. And no words are more important than the verbs that we choose.
As an example, I encourage you to think about your To-Do List. Have you considered that the way you describe the items on your list have an impact? It’s not just the task itself, but the words you use to frame it that will shape how you feel about it – and how likely you are to follow through on it.
There are lots of ways to make your task lists more useful to you. For example, in the past, we’ve written quite a bit about chunking tasks down to make them more doable – and this is very important. But there’s more you can do to help yourself!
Here’s an example of the difference that a verb or two can make when you’re working with your To-Do List:
|Old, Vague, Passive Phrasing||Translation to Active, Specific, More Detailed Wording|
|Work on Special Report||Complete outline of special report and schedule next steps to move it into production.|
|Think about blog post ideas||Draft and schedule 5 new blog posts, including brief reference notes and Evernote links.|
|Discuss future plans with team||Meet with team. Produce work plan and specific task schedule for the next 3-months.|
Verbs are Important!
So, notice how I’ve changed some key expressions, below:
|Old Key Phrases||New Action Verbs to Increase Specificity and Follow-Through|
|Work on||Complete and schedule|
|Think about||Draft and schedule|
|Discuss||Meet and produce|
The new verbs are much more specific and action-oriented.
And, importantly, they often point to the next step n the process (e.g. “Complete and schedule“) Wen you finish the task at hand, you’ll be adding the next step or steps to your To Do List and/or calendar.
This is an excellent way to keep things moving. Even as you think about what verbs to use in your To-Do List you are significantly changing the way that you look at your tasks. It’s a shift in consciousness that brings with it greater efficiency and effectiveness.
And the final step, whenever you complete an item on your To-Do List is to always, always, always validate yourself for your accomplishment! There aren’t many things you can do for yourself that will be more energizing.
Not only that, but your follow-through builds confidence and self-trust, meaning that you’ll move ahead all the more powerfully and effectively.
To your time success …
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