Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example by Steve McClatchy

My Highlights

Leadership and progress take time, energy, and commitment. But time continues to pass, whether you use it to accomplish something worthwhile or not.

If your decisions about life and how you use your time do not reflect an effort to make the future better than it is today, then it won’t be.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. —Mark Twain

No matter how many “have to” tasks are on your plate, you can always fill your day with them. There’s always something to repair, maintain, clean, feed, keep up with, pay for, or care for. The reason that Prevent Pain tasks go on and on is that they never actually go away; they just eventually repeat. For example, you don’t really cross doing dishes off your to-do list; you just move it to the bottom because by the next night, you will have to wash them again. The same is true with checking e-mail or stocking inventory. You don’t cross it off; you move it down the list, because it’s coming back again at some point. Tasks such as putting gas in your car, doing laundry, and going grocery shopping all have to be done over and over again because the things necessary to maintain your life are never finished. By always focusing on getting them done and preventing pain, you don’t end up with Gain; you end up with no pain and unfortunately no progress.

To move your life or your business forward from where it is today and to see an improvement, you must do something extraordinary—something that you didn’t have to do at all. You must pursue Gain.

To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving. —Jerry Seinfeld

The idea of work-life balance is inherently combative. It suggests a discord between two vital parts of life: work being what we have to do, and life being what we want to do. It suggests that these are two opposing forces between which we must constantly make choices—and that when we choose to give time or thought to one, the other loses. This constant battle between work and personal pursuits puts one in a perpetual state of conflict; furthermore, it suggests that personal and professional goals are out of alignment or mutually exclusive and that achieving both is therefore unattainable.

The only one who can create balance in your life is you. And the only way to create it is to seek to make your life better today than it was yesterday. You do that by pursuing Gain.

You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are. —Fred Rogers

Remember the first attribute of a Gain task: they are never urgent! The things that will bring you the greatest results in your life don’t have a deadline.

If you try to finish all of your Prevent Pain tasks before you pursue Gain, then Gain will never happen, because Prevent Pain is never finished. You have to do both in conjunction with each other.

The two categories of motivation are fear and desire. We fear the pain of consequences of not doing something we “have to” do. We desire the results brought on by Gain and movement in our lives.

If you’re expanding your business, celebrate each step along the way in order to make all the overtime hours feel less burdensome.

Consumption goals can give you only a brief reprieve before you are back to the same place in life that made you want a break. Only creation goals can move you forward out of that place.

Do the important project first and then use the energy you get from accomplishing that to get through your C tasks.

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake. —Sir Francis Bacon

The decisions that you have made as to how to spend your time up until now have yielded the results that you have experienced and have brought you to the life you currently have.

To start making better decisions about our time, we need to understand what comprises our time in the first place. And we can classify pretty much everything we do every day into three categories: habits, to-do items, and calendar events.

Even after you’ve brainstormed all the Gain you can think of, if you don’t put it on the calendar it won’t happen. It’s a matter of aligning your actions with your words.

If you really want to achieve your A tasks, get them off your to-do list and onto your calendar. We defend appointments. We don’t defend a time-flexible to-do list.

Knowing what you don’t want can be just as valuable as knowing what you do want

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if completing this task will take less than 2 minutes, do it now.

The rule for creating a manageable daily to-do list is this: If you can’t do it today, don’t look at it today.

The decisions that we make result in the life that we build. The life you have today is the cumulative result of all the decisions and circumstances that have been part of it up until now. Some of these circumstances—where you were born, who your parents are, the health of your family members—are completely out of your control. But the decisions you make as to how to handle the situations that life gives you, what risks you take, what you spend your time on, and the Gain you decide to pursue are what makes you different from everyone else. These are the things that define you.

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