Productivity Tricks We Can Learn From Politicians

I always try to find productivity inspiration wherever possible. And the race for the presidency is no exception.

Remember way back at the beginning of 2015 when candidates like Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio announced they would be running for the White House? The campaigning hasn’t stopped since.

Now, without getting political, we should be asking why, if the election isn’t until late 2016, did they start campaigning in early 2015? What do they gain from it? What does starting a major project early do for them? Does it actually help?

The simple answer is yes. A lot.

Using these candidates as a template, we can break down the different stages of getting a long-term project done:

Goal setting: Undoubtedly, long before they announced, these candidates and their team mapped out a pretty solid plan for the campaign. You need to have a hyper specific end goal in mind for any project.

What would that look like for any of these candidates? Surely not “Be elected president.” That is much too vague. More likely it would be something like “Achieve X number of votes”, or “Win states A, B, and C in the election.”

When you are setting your own long-term goals, remember to keep them as specific as possible. For example, if your goal is to lose weight you should have a specific number in mind. Be honest with yourself about what you really want.

Plan of action: Not only do you need a firm goal, but you need to understand how to break it down into manageable subgoals. For the Democratic presidential candidates, this might mean swaying certain swing states such as Ohio, while not spending very much time in liberal California. Likewise for the Republicans, states such as Texas are pretty “safe”, so they might try and spend more time winning over Florida’s votes.

Your own plan of action should have an equally well-defined path. Think about the day to day — what would be a realistic way to achieve your goals? For example, if you want to exercise more, would you do something every day, or on specific days of the week.

Prepare contingencies: If each candidate doesn’t win the state they deemed as most pivotal — then what? How do they regroup and refocus their attention? That’s the key — this is all predetermined with “if/then” scenarios laid out in advance.

In your own planning, you need to prepare for unforeseen consequences. I firmly believe in always having a backup plan.

Set things in motion: Perhaps strangely, this step is last on the list. The beauty in planning out for long-term goals is that it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process. The candidates certainly weren’t going to start campaigning until plans were set in stone. That gives them the freedom to dictate how the campaign will go, and not have the campaign dictate to them how it will go. The same thing should apply to your own goals.

How do you prepare for your own long-term goals?

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My new book about lists, Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed recently hit the shelves! The power of a simple list is pretty amazing. It makes you feel more in control of every aspect of your life and makes you a better version of yourself. I know, because it’s worked for me!

Oh and some really successful and organized authors like David Allen, Julie Morgenstern and Gretchen Rubin have endorsed the book too!

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Paula Rizzo is an Emmy award winning television producer and founder of the productivity site ListProducer.com. She’s also the author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook and get a free chapter of her book by signing up here.

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