Idea Incubator 4: Master Things to Do

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This series has spun off into its own blog-pub, Idea Initiators. It is updated, polished and expanded. As a self-seminar, it is guaranteed to improve your focus, leveraging, and originality.

glass collection of Liane Sebastian
Ideas need legs. Ideas are like butterflies fluttering and randomly sampling landing sites. They have little impact beyond entertainment. Yet, when you study butterfly behavior, by grouping together, they gain purpose and power. The best examples are the determined Monarchs who take four generations to go from South to North America and four generations to go back. Forming ideas thus far in this Idea Incubation series has been to tame the fluttering ideas into a direction that can grow concrete components. To review the Idea Incubator process so far:

1. Maintenance. Marilyn Miglin encourages us to organize our environment in preparation for creative development. What have you left to prepare or to get out of the way?

2. Synergy. Melissa Giovagnoli advises us to originate ideas from market needs. Discover a match between passions and causes. What values must be part of your creative business development?

3. Risks. Susan Davis soothes the jitters around taking risks by anchoring ideas to reality. How do you evaluate ideas for their viability?

4. Productivity. This week, it is time to examine capacity and resources. If an idea is impossible, at least know why, especially if you embark on it anyway (passion and reality don’t necessarily mesh). For example, trying to start a magazine as a solo venture is not a good idea. It requires at least three people to divide up sales, development, and communications. Ideas beyond reach are easy to dream up. It would be fantanstic to start a museum for Chicago artists. But without a team of professionals, that will never happen. Not to mention the fact I personally only have museum-promotional experience, not museum-running experience! Ah, dream on!

Debi Davis is great at testing and anchoring ideas. A serial entrepreneur and dedicated to health education and habits, although a moving target, she keeps anchored in nutritional advances. She advises:

“Don’t become overwhelmed with what you need to do—simply do it. Getting stressed-out will not get the task done any faster or easier, it will just complicate the process by making you inefficient.”
—Debi Davis, founder and president of Fit America, author, and contributor to Women who Win at Work

As the information bombardment accelerates at an alarming rate, we must all become better editors and organizers. Master your Things to Do list without allowing it to become a tyrant! Here are questions to help you gain control:

• How do you relate to your Things to Do? Do you make a quick list and jump in with the first task or do you become indecisive, then freeze due to the magnitude of items?
• What is your biggest organizational challenge? What is your largest obstacle or distraction to your productivity?
Break the challenge into actionable segments:
a. What portion is the easiest to pursue?
b. What is the hottest item on the list?
c. Define the easiest versus the most urgent. Can you combine these two?
d. Choose the easiest to do first as a way to gain momentum
e. Choose the hardest task first to get it out of the way, but not if discouragement can set in before completion.

Before going home at the end of a workday, organize to leave a thread activity that you can quickly pick up the next day. Any mountain of tasks can be broken down into zigzag paths or individual stair-like steps. Focus first on the long-term and then on the immediate; the progress along the way takes care of itself.

How do you creatively master your Things to Do?
Can you add to these ideas?

See the developing series of Idea Incubators.

Liane Sebastian, illustrator, designer, writer, and publishing pioneer


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