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Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Morning Check In: Getting Behind? Schedule an Action Day

written by Paula E. Bird, copyright 2014

I got a wee bit behind last week, and unfinished tasks pulled at me. I could not seem to catch up, no matter how many to do lists or schedules I made. So I pulled out all the stops and scheduled an Action Day. I posted my intent on Facebook and found a partner to join me. Then I planned for the event.

For those who are new to the concept of an Action Day, click here to read the article about it. I have participated in a few action days with Stever Robbins himself, and I have found them to be quite useful to spur me on to finish some pesky projects that never seem to quite lend themselves to accomplishment in a normal day. In a nutshell, here is how an action day works:

  • Set a particular day for the event. It is helpful to have most of a day set aside for this, but it is possible to have an action day during a normal working day.
  • Decide the time frame when the action day will take place. I live in the Central Standard Time Zone, and I have friends who may participate from all around the world. Coordinating the time zones may be an issue in some cases. My last action day began at 8 am and finished at 3 pm CST.
  • Find a partner or several who will join you in this venture. The iPhone allows up to five phones to be conferenced together, and that may be the upper limit to the number of participants with a phone. There are ways to use go-to-meeting software, but I wanted my action day to be on a smaller scale.
  • Set some ground rules. Here are some suggestions:
    • No chatter or socializing. The purpose of the action day is to get busy and accomplish things, so eliminate the need to converse as much as you can. I make notes about conversational topics that occur to me throughout the day. I can contact the person later if I am interested.
    • No judging or advising. Let everyone explore his or her action day without comment or suggestion.
    • Decide who will do the calling. Will everyone call one central number of will one person call everyone else?
  • Start the action day.
    • At the first call, have everyone introduce themselves and state what overall goal they have set for the day. Then have everyone state what they plan to do for the next hour.
    • Hang up and get started.
    • At the next hourly call, have everyone report what they did in the previous hour and what they plan to do in the coming hour.
    • Hang up and work on the next hour's activities.
    • Rinse and repeat until the end hour of the Action Day.
Here is how my action day worked. I planned for my action day. Knowing that I would spend most of my Wednesday on the action day, I planned the things that I wanted to do and made sure that all my supplies or files or equipment were ready to go. I actually got up really early that day to complete my typical morning farm chores before the action day began rather than use one of my action day hours for my chores. This choice freed me up to tackle my big action day projects that much sooner in the day.

At 8 am I called my friend. We stated what we wanted to accomplish generally in the day. Then we stated what we planned to do in the coming hour. We hung up the phone and began our work. I set an alarm to buzz five minutes before each hour so that I could wrap up what I was doing at the moment the alarm rang and could prepare to call my friend for the next hour. I also found it helpful to scribble down a few notes about what I had done the previous hour and what I planned to do in the coming hour. I found later that these few notes to myself provided me with the report that I needed to make in the hourly calls, and at the end of the day I had a brief written summary of my day's work.

At the next hour, I called my friend and we reported to each other what we had accomplished in the previous hour. Then we stated what we wanted to accomplish in the next hour. Sometimes unexpected things occurred to derail our original plan for an hour, but knowing that we planned to call and report to each other in an hour kept both of us on track the entire day. Knowing that I was to make that hourly call, I kept my lunch break to its minimum and put off attempting that additional level in the Candy Mania game. I enjoyed hearing about my friend's choice of activities because it gave me a window glimpse of what her life is like, as my activities gave my friend a good shot of what I do in my life.

We both agreed at the end of the day that we had accomplished quite a number of things in the day. Knowing that we would be held accountable each hour in a phone call kept our focus and concentration on the tasks that we set before us. I made a great deal of headway in my tax project, which was my big goal for the day. My friend made a great deal of progress in her goals as well.

An Action Day is a great way to get things done. You may devote your day to tackling a major project, as I did, or you may use it to accomplish a lot of smaller items that you have been procrastinating about, as my friend did. The day was so productive, that I immediately wanted to schedule another in the coming week, but I have found that it is best to let Action Days occur less often.

If anyone is interested in pursuing a future Action Day with me, please send me an email at paulabirdviolin@gmail.com, and I will contact you the next time I schedule one.

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