Learning From Winston Churchill

One of the things that we all have a problem with is getting stuck doing day-to-day tasks that are not moving our life forward. these tasks are essential things like our daily routine work, walking the dog, washing the dishes, the weekly sales report and other sundry tasks that have to be done but don't take our overall life further forward. 

“Every night, I try myself by Court Martial to see if I have done anything effective during the day. I don’t mean just pawing the ground, anyone can go through the motions, but something really effective.”

To keep our minds focused on moving our life forward, a good tip is to set up a recurring daily task that asks the question: "what have I produced today?" This is a simple yet effective way of focusing our minds on things that will move us forward in our lives. 

I got this idea from a documentary I watched about Winston Churchill. Churchill was always afraid of going to bed at the end of the day having not created, written or made anything that moved his life forward. Like all of us, Churchill had his routine work to do. This included reading and answering his mail (read email today), reading the daily newspapers (he was a politician after all) and discussing with his secretaries what his diary had in store for him that day. To Churchill, these were routine tasks that did not necessarily take his life further forward. Once his routine work was done, he set about creating things. This could be writing one of the many books he wrote, building a wall (he was a fully trained bricklayer) or painting. Unless he had produced effective, Churchill could not settle in for the night. 

When I saw the above quotation, it hit me with an incredible force - a sudden realisation that to be really effective you have to keep focused. So, to keep my mind focused on this, I set up a daily recurring task which asked the question: "What have I produced today?" If the answer is nothing, before I retire to bed, I will do something - write a paragraph of a book or blog post, design a presentation slide or work on an outline of a future project.

Try it yourself and see if helps you to focus your mind on those really important, life changing tasks.