Apple Tasks: Motivation in Practice

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What’s the Situation?

Have you ever stared at your To-Do List, eyes glazing over as you try not to think about how much you have to get done today, tomorrow, this week, next week, and so on? Is that just me? Far too often, it seems like the only way I’ll get everything done on my To-Do List is if I have a team of 12 and control over the space-time continuum so that I can add more hours to the day.

Ok, I exaggerate. But seriously, my To-Do Lists are so frequently overburdened that I generally don’t even consider them to be a list of important/must-do items anymore. I consider them more of a list of recommended items that would be nice to complete. Which is great until you realize I have things like “client deliverable due tomorrow” on my list.

How did I get here? My To-Do Lists weren’t always Herculean. They used to be achievable. The size didn’t change (actually, that’s a bit of a lie, they did change; my To Do Lists are now smaller). No, the problem is that I just didn’t have the Motivation to get them all done.

For a long time (far longer than I’d care to admit), I thought of Motivation in a binary way. Like a light switch, on or off, motivated or unmotivated. Even when I started to think of Motivation as a limited (but renewable) resource, I still had this binary on/off model in my head. To me, the game was all about keeping the switch “on” as much as possible. I mean, that was the point right? Motivation 24/7 is the only way to get ahead, right?

But it turns out that I can’t keep my Motivation “on” all the time. And while my efforts to increase my Spiritual Energy (the fuel for Motivation) certainly helped, it just wasn’t enough. Worse yet, I found that I had little to no control over when I would experience these “on” or “off” moments.

Sometimes I’d be Motivated at the best of times, like when I’m sitting down to tackle my To-Do List. Other times, though, I’d be Motivated when my To-Do List is far away, like when I’m out to dinner with a friend. In other words, by trying to be Motivated all the time, I found I used up my Motivation wherever and whenever it was available. Not a good plan. And, unsurprisingly, it didn’t have the best of results.

To address this, I needed a specific strategy for intentionally utilizing Motivation. I needed something I could practice and get better at doing over time. I needed Apple Tasks.

What’s the Strategy?

An Apple Task is the one task that is most important for you to complete in a given day. It is the task that if you did nothing else, you could still go to bed at the end of the day feeling accomplished. Simple, right? But not necessarily easy.

For me at least, trying to determine which one task is most important is incredibly difficult. Too often, I find myself thinking of two, three, or even more tasks that are ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL (yes, I’m usually shouting at myself in my head about how important these tasks are).  But, as soon as I start going down that path, I remind myself of two things:

  1. My Apple Task is a starting place – Once I’ve completed it there’s nothing stopping me from doing other things. There’s also nothing forcing me to do anything else, which brings me to point 2.
  2. Completing one task is better than completing no tasks – The irony of trying to do too much – or thinking of too many things as absolutely critical – is that it stops me before I even get started. It’s much easier to Motivate myself to do one thing than to do two, three, or fifty.

This last point is, I believe, the most critical. I often find that Motivation is less about being always “on” and more about getting jump-started. Once I get going on something, I usually keep going. So, by deliberately and intentionally lowering the initial hurdle for getting started, I significantly increase my changes of getting more done!

Does it always work like that? Not at all! But even in those cases, at least I can rest easy knowing I got something done. Progress is progress no matter how small. Apple Tasks allow me to put that into practice on a daily basis.

What’s the Impact?

The thing I love about the Mana Matrix is that is shows me how all the Core Energies are interrelated and how a small change in one area can positively (or negatively) impact other areas.

When I implemented my Apple Task strategy, my only focus was on finding a way to use a limited resource (Motivation) to get more out of my day. But I soon discovered a number of additional fringe benefits, too. All told, here’s the net impact Apple Tasks has on my life:

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  • Motivation – Since Apple Tasks allow me to more effectively target/use my Motivation, I am able to conserve more of it for other tasks later. A positive impact for my Spiritual Energy.
  • Structure – Apple Tasks are essentially an intentional system for managing time and productivity. This framework is a boost to the Mental Fortitude Input of Structure.
  • Personal Management – Personal Management is all about defining and achieving objectives. By its very nature, Apple Tasks provides a framework where we can do this regularly, an increase to the Emotional Mana Input of Personal Management.
  • Self-Valuation – Getting something done, no matter how small, feels good; especially when we have already identified it as the most important thing to do in a given day. It’s a nice boost to the Emotional Mana Input of Self-Valuation.

So really, when you get down to it, your Apple Task isn’t just the most important thing you can do to accomplish your goals. It’s the most important thing you can do to build a better you!

See you at the finish line!

-The Jack of Spades

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