Two Horses 

“You cannot ride two horses with one ass.” -Hungarian Proverb 

Forgive the crudeness of that statement. I heard this Proverb on a podcast and loved its application to productivity. 

What does effective productivity require? Focus. 

David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, points out that most people’s task lists are incomplete lists of still-unprocessed stuff. Most people have a “task” list made up mostly of items on which they still have not defined the desired outcome and the next action (or sequence) that moves them closer to that outcome. 

This simple step of defining outcomes and actions provides immense clarity for later focus. 

Productivity depends on two key elements: clarity and focus. Clarity comes from defining, on the front-end (i.e. proactively), the exact action to take to get started. Focus comes from knowing exactly what action to take and staying on that action to completion. Then, like reading a book, you either put the bookmark in (i.e. record the next action) or continue reading (i.e. complete the next action). 

Proactive behavior, ironically, depends on the same elements: clarity and focus. When we know what needs to be done and how, it’s easy to tackle that before it turns into a reactive fire. 

Too many of us lack the clarity and focus that leads us to try to ride multiple horses at the same time. Imagine (and enjoy the humor of) trying to literally jump from one horse to another while in motion! It’s a hilarious image! And yet people are walking around doing the reactive productivity equivalent every single day (sorry, if I just called you out!). 

Define the outcome, define the next action, and focus on that. Your productivity and proactivity will skyrocket. I promise. 

And the best part? If you fall off the horse, it’s that easy to get right back on! 


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Picture of Craig A. Escamilla
Craig A. Escamilla
Craig Escamilla helps you find solutions before problems exist. With fifteen years of consulting, teaching, and senior management experience, Craig brings a wealth of practical expertise to helping others work on rather than in their businesses.

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