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Good times ahead.


Yellow Brick List

Every journey starts with a single step, right? If you don't have a plan for your journey then that first step might be one back.

First steps can be strange that way.

"First things first" is ironically the 3rd of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What Dr. Covey doesn't explain is that sometimes the first thing takes two weeks. He hints at it by calling it 'long term development' but where does that fit on my daily list?

Sure the first thing was urgent, but the second thing, that only takes a few hours--that was not getting done because of the first thing--still needs to get done.

And I'm not talking about a second thing that has anything to do with the first thing, like, first plant a garden and, second wash the kids sheets. Those are unrelated...even if the kids are helping to plant the garden. On a list there is only one first thing.

The thing about 'things' first or second on your list is that they are not just any 'thing'. A thing is only a thing when that thing has a duration of less than a few hours. Even a marathon is not a 'thing'. It's a many things that all add up to the the thing that we refer to as a marathon, even though we just said it was a thing.

'Plant a garden' is a 'project' not a thing. Semantics front and center.


A project is made up of 'tasks' that become 'things' on a list. When completed in a sequence these things should result in a garden. 'Things' on an effective list should each take less than a day: Plan Garden. Rake a spot to remove weeds. Till and supplement the soil. Install fence. Set up sprinklers. Plant Seeds. (Raised bed gardens may have a few more steps but the sequence is similar.) This makes room for 'wash the kids sheets' as a thing to be done during the 'project' of planting a garden, in between tasks.

Looking an entire week or month ahead dramatically brings clarity to what's reasonable.

The Land of Oz in the distance represents your 'project' and the 'things' your lists should feel like sections of the yellow brick road stretched out before you. The bricks or the roadway keep you from wandering off.

The moment we find ourselves putting down one yellow brick at a time in order to step forward is the moment we find ourselves out of control. With this in mind, the expression, "Step back," makes more sense.

Make a plan.

That brings us right back to the other 7 habits:

1 - Be proactive.

2 - Begin with the end in mind.

3 - First things first.

4 - Think win-win.

5 - Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

6 - Synergize!

7 - Sharpen the Saw; Growth.

There was no 'thing' on my list today other than "first things first" so I'll reserve my comments on the other 6 for another day


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