What do you say to yourself when bad things happen?


You have a setback. A problem. A challenge. You start a business and it goes bust. A job doesn’t work out. You take a big case, invest time and money, and lose.

Bad things are inevitable. The question is, what do you say to yourself when they happen?

Do you say something negative–“What’s wrong with me?” or “Why did I mess up again?”

Tim Ferriss suggests we eliminate negative self-talk by using a technique he learned from Tony Robbins. We should re-frame the question or statement to something positive by asking, “Where is the gift in this?”

Every failure can teach us something useful or lead us to something better. We need to condition ourselves to expect that.

Ferriss told the story about launching one of this books under the Amazon publishing label only to have major bookstores, distributors, and other outlets refuse to carry it because it was under the Amazon label. He fell into a funk and for the next couple of years starting questioning himself.

It was that fallow period that led him to start his podcast, which, he says, has brought him far more exposure and opportunities.

So now, when bad things happen, he looks for the gift. More often than not, he finds it.

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How to prioritize your daily tasks


I use my own version of GTD (Getting Things Done) as the backbone of my productivity system. Every day, when I sit down to prioritize my lists and choose what to work on for the day, I choose three “MIT’s” (Most Important Tasks). If I get my MITs done, I call it a good day.

Some people recommend the 1-3-5 system: 1 big thing for the day, 3 medium things, and 5 small things. Others use the 3-2 method: three big things, two small things. And then there’s the ABC/123 method.

For me, “three things” is about right.

Many days, it’s just one or two MITs. The number really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am effective because I’m getting important things done.

But how do you decide what’s important? How do you look at a long list of tasks and projects and select three Most Important Tasks?

I don’t know. I just do it.

Sure, there’s a certain amount of logic in the process. I look at deadlines and appointments and reminders. But more often than not, it’s my gut that tells me what to do.

In “The 4-Hour Work Week,” Tim Ferriss offers a suggestion for deciding what’s important. He says, “Imagine you’ve just suffered a heart attack and are allowed to work only two hours a day. What would you do during those two hours? And if you had another heart attack and were allowed a maximum of two hours of work per week, what would you do?”

Ferriss also says, “. . .requiring a lot of time does not make a task important,” and I agree. He is also a proponent of making a “don’t do list,” ignoring things that aren’t important so you can focus on what is, which I wrote about recently.

I like learning about new productivity systems. But most of them are too complicated and time consuming to learn and use. I like the simplicity of focusing on just “three things”.

If you want to know how to prioritize your daily tasks, start by acknowledging that some things are much more important than others. Think 80/20. A minority of tasks, perhaps 20%, will contribute to the majority of your results.

You’ll never get everything on your list done, and trying to categorize and prioritize hundreds of things that aren’t important, or as important, as your three things, isn’t efficient or effective.

This post is one of my MITs for today. Next for me is to finish another writing project. I’ll get to that right after I check my calendar.

I explain my productivity system in my Evernote for Lawyers ebook.