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Chapter 12 RAP! Results-focused Action Planning System

How to Use Your Current Daily Planner to Stay Focused On the

Results You Want

Important note: This is one of the most important chapters in this book. As with most of the other information, it is highly concentrated information.

One of the most frustrating things I have had to deal with is how to stay organized and focused on my goals every day. In my quest to figure this out, I've studied many time management systems. I've purchased many computer software programs. I've bought many different planners--sometimes several within the same year. Daily planners. Weekly planners. Monthly planners. And I've purchased about 5 different electric organizers. And I've kept several planners simultaneously.

I'm almost embarrassed to say that I have literally spent thousands of dollars to find a system that works for me. I've asked myself many, many times "How could such a simple thing, such a basic but critical skill be so hard to master?" What a great affirmation eh? And I've repeated it many, many times with emotional intensity. No wonder it was tough.

Well the turning point came to me while studying Anthony Robbins breakthrough OPA system and his Time of Your Life program. His program taught me the folly of managing my life through to-do lists and the absolutely critical importance of staying relentlessly focused on my goals every day. I knew this before, but his system really brought home what it takes to make that happen in an organized manner.

When I first discovered his program, I thought I had finally found the answer to my problem; however, it proved too time consuming for me to maintain. And I felt that there were some elements that were overemphasized for my purposes (such as defining my purpose for every single outcome no matter how small). And I started to feel like I was starting over every day.

Please don't misunderstand me. There are few people I respect more than Tony Robbins. There are few people who have had a greater positive impact on my life. But I ultimately decided that while the basic psychology of his approach was perfect for me, the application was too impractical. I needed something simpler for me to use every day. Having said that, I HIGHLY recommend his "Time Of Your Life" audio series. It is the best personal resource management program that I have discovered. The system I'm describing here is certainly no substitute for studying his program or the programs of others.

I also found that to make consistent progress, I had to place more emphasis on measuring my specific progress daily. While Tony mentions the importance of measuring progress, his system didn't offer me a simple, systematic way of doing it other than perhaps making a note in my journal. Also, while I agree with Tony that to manage your life with a to do list is folly, I have still found it extremely useful as a supplemental way of staying organized in terms of the actual sequence of activities.

One day I decided that I was going to develop my own system. My requirements were as follows:

1. It had to be SIMPLE. In my quest to better manage my life, I ended up with systems that were just too complicated to maintain. Multiple planners, etc. It had to be simple and I had to be able to keep it in a SINGLE binder.

2. It had to be TEACHABLE. I wanted to have a system that I could easily teach to others. Especially present and future employees so that everyone is following a simple system that focuses on end results. I want to be able to explain it in just a few simple steps.

3. It had to use common planners that were already on the market. I'm partial to Daytimers because I like the format and love the paper, but it had to be a system that people could use regardless of their choice of planner. Or if they even wanted to use a blank note-book.

4. It had to be relentlessly focused on results. As I've already noted, simple, uncategorized to do lists seldom work.

5. It had to allow for using simple to do lists for managing activities moment-to-moment.

6. It had to provide a simple way for measuring results daily. I know some people find that simply crossing off activities is sufficient or making a note in their journal, but I needed a more precise way of measuring my progress everyday. The reinforcement helps keep me moving towards my goals.

So...the system I came up with for myself is called RAP which stands for Results-focused Action Plan. While the term results may be synonymous with outcome, I prefer to think in terms of results rather than outcomes. I believe that it meets all of my original requirements. You will have to decide for yourself. Here's how it works...

10 Steps to RAP

I use the two-page per day desk-size Daytimer (similar to the Franklin-Covey Planner). While I use the different sections on the pages, I generally ignore the headings. Each day I copy the following in my planner. The repetition helps anchor them into my subconscious:

1. At the very top of the left-hand page (above the headings), I write:

--Speed. Simplicity. Boldness. Focus. Execution. --Willing to do whatever it takes. --Follow up and follow through."

2. In the "to do" section on the left hand page, I write: "Conceive. Believe. Act. Achieve." on the first line. On the next line, I write: "My Desires" Then I list out my current goals with my deadline. These are generally short sentence fragments. I skip a line between each goal.

3. In the phone calls section (I know this is odd, but after all, it's my planner) I write the following questions:

--What did I accomplish today of lasting value?

--What additional progress can I make in the next 24 hours?

--How can I accelerate the accomplishment of my goals?

--Where am I really at right now?

--What are the specific results I want to create?

--What massive actions am I now taking to close that GAP?

4. The appointment column with the times is reserved for notes that I have written in previous days: appointments, calls, important tasks, etc. In other words, if I decide today that I need to remind myself to follow up on something on the 14th of this month, I turn to that page and note it in this section. This leaves the other sections open for my daily planning.

5. I use the reference page on the right-hand side for the current day to create my daily plan, but really any blank piece of paper will do. But it is helpful to have it in a note-book of some sort. I draw a line down the middle the page dividing it into two columns. Above the first column I write "Last 24 Hours." Above the 2nd column I write "Next 24 Hours.

6. In the upper left hand corner of the left column, I write a couple of words that describe the goal I'm working on. For example, "Buy New Car." Even though the actual goal is written elsewhere more specifically, I just use a couple of words to identify the goal.

7. Now in the left hand column, list 3-6 bullets detailing the measurable progress you made towards this goal in the last 24 hours. I rarely need more than that many within a single day. Be brief. Concentrate only on the meaningful tasks. For example, if I priced out the car on the internet, I put that down. If I took no meaningful action towards the goal, I write in BIG letters NOTHING. Be honest with yourself.

8. Now in the right hand column, I list the results-focused actions I'm going to take in the next 24 hours towards the goal. Again, I keep it brief and abbreviate. If I don't plan on doing anything, I write in BIG letters: NOTHING. After a few days, if I notice that I haven't done anything towards the goal, it's time to reevaluate my commitment and take corrective action. It's really critical to determine if you are going for days at a time without making any measurable progress towards a goal. This process forces you to face the issue head on so you do something about it.

9. After I complete this list, I draw a horizontal line using the column with the longest list as a guide where to start. I always leave a little bit of space so that when I think of something else I accomplished or need to do, there's room to add it. I know it seems odd to essentially create the form as you go, but this way you can keep the size of the area for the goal relative to the amount of content for that day. My daily plastic bookmark doubles as a small ruler, so the end result looks neat and it doesn't really add much time to the process.

10. Repeat the process for the remaining goals. So, if you have 4 goals you would end up with a grid with 4 sets of boxes.

What has this accomplished?

1. I have conditioned my mind to focus on my goals.

2. I have measured the specific progress I have made in the past 24 hours.

3. I have determined the results-focused actions I am going to take tomorrow (I do my planning in the evening, but everyone should pick the time that is best for them). This is far different than an uncategorized random to-do list.

4. Because my goals are generally consistent from day-to-day, I can whip through this entire process in about 15-30 minutes. While it may take you some additional time up front, once you go through the process a few times, you'll be surprised at how fast you can knock out an organized plan for the day--and one that is focused entirely on lasting results.

Follow this process every day and you will be creating plans for specific results-focused actions that will move you in the direction of your goals and you will be measuring your true progress towards your goal. Now you are keeping your mind focused on the results you want every day.

An Example in Table Form

Below is an example of a RAP planning page in Table Form (just the left hand page in my planner). This page is the heart of the daily portion of the system. In this case, I'm only using 3 goals as examples. These aren't my current goals. In my current planner, I have 8 that I am tracking.

Keep in mind that this is just for the day-to-day planning. I keep more details on my goals elsewhere—usually just a simple MS Word page or Excel spreadsheet. The key here is that my activities are categorized and focused directly on my desired goals. Also, that I know what I accomplished the day before. This helps me stack my progress one day on another until I've built unstoppable momentum.

Last 24 Hours

Next 24 Hours

Move to a new apartment

--Contacted landlord

--Set time to see new apartment

--Research current rents

--See apartment --Determine availability --Set aside funds for deposit --Research neighborhood

Launch Web Site

--Outlined pages --Purchased and loaded software --Researched domain names --Studied search engines --Worked on master marketing plan

--Begin writing pages --Pick and register domain name --Research shopping carts --Order web service

Get Business Loan

--Contacted the SBA regarding

program details

--Purchased book on Business


--Began master task list for project

--Schedule time to work on the

details of the plan

--Set appointment to get additional

help from the SBA

--Get list of preferred lenders

--Contact accountant to prepare


--Brainstorm planning ideas

Running To Do List

During the day, I keep a running to do list. I'm very active. No matter how thoroughly I plan, I have a lot of unexpected things come up. But that’s okay. Because I’m focused on very specific goals, I can often use these unforeseen challenges and opportunities to move closer to the achievement of my goals. If I didn’t keep my current goals in front of my consciousness, I’d simply handle these items without getting maximum benefit. Maybe without really taking me any closer to my goals at all.

Also, I like to focus on the activities that I'm in the mood for at the moment. And I like to take advantage of serendipity--unexpected opportunities that I can take advantage of at a moment's notice to take me closer to my goals.

So to keep my mind focused on the tasks at hand, I make a list of the next 3-5 tasks that I'm going to follow through to completion. Any more than this, and my mind starts to get overwhelmed. By keeping a running to do list throughout the day, I am able to take advantage of my current state of mind.

Being human, there are times when I feel more productive than others. For me, that changes through the course of the day, so I have found it impractical to prioritize the exact sequence of tasks more than an hour or two at a time (except for activities that involve other people, appointments, phone calls, etc.). And by only planning a few specific tasks in advance, I follow them through to completion more consistently.

In rereading what I just wrote, I can see where someone may reach the conclusion that I have “attention deficit disorder”. Nothing could be further from the truth. My powers of concentration actually are very high. It’s just that I have a lot to accomplish so I’m constantly on the move. Your life may be a lot less complicated and you may not need a running to do list.

As I create my running to do list, I make absolutely certain that most of these tasks are related to my RAP for the day. If they are not, I take a moment to rethink that use of my time right then and there. Like everyone, I sometimes have to do tasks unrelated to a goal--so I do it as quickly as possible to get back to a meaningful task. Other times, I delegate it to someone else or to another business. Other times I just decide not to do it. I love it when I find that I can cross off a task that I really don’t need to complete!

I throw away this list at the end of the day (or sometimes even during the day if I'm really busy), so I use a blank pad of paper that I keep right in the front of my planner. That way I can open my binder to my current list at any time. Placing it here is really critical for me so that it is always handy. I also use this pad to capture phone numbers, quick thoughts etc. I have one place to put these notes and I can copy them to the proper place later.

I know most planning systems tell you to prioritize tasks (such as ABC, 123, etc.). Maybe I'm just difficult, but I have actually not found that to be very helpful for me. I found I almost always ignore the priorities anyway in favor of following my mood of the moment. That may sound undisciplined, but the proof is in the results--I get a LOT done virtually everyday.

I currently have 8 goals that I'm working on every day. And I typically can have a task list of 35-40 meaningful things to do towards these goals each day. And they are ALL important to me. Rather than set priorities, I ask "What is the most valuable use of my time right now?" (NOT the "best use", the most "VALUABLE USE"). What can I work on that is important, but not urgent? That becomes my priority of the moment. And as much as possible, I follow tasks through to completion before moving to the next activity.

Since I started using this system, my productivity has exploded (and I was pretty productive before this system by most standards). And I have a lot less stress.

Mapping Your Way Through the "Gap" in 6 Steps

For creating my master plans for my goals, I use what I call "Gap" analysis. The analogy that I think of is creating a map from where I am now to where I want to be. The map is the action plan (my MAP through the GAP). It's really a pretty simple process. I don't do this everyday, only when I need to come up with a master plan for achieving a specific goal.

Here's how it works for me:

1. Take out a blank sheet of paper and draw two lines dividing the page into three sections. It's best to do this using a landscape orientation--one major result, goal or outcome per page. Above the 1st column, write the question: Where am I REALLY at right now? Above the second column, write “MAP through the GAP” (MAP stands for Massive Action Plan), Above the 3rd column write the question: What is the exact result that I want?

2. In the first column, write out exactly where you are right now with respect to the result you want to create. Be brutally honest. Be realistic. Be specific. Here you should focus on the here and now rather than the future. Don't see things better than they are and don't see things worse than they are. See them EXACTLY the way they are. No fluff. It's best if you can find some kind of objective measurement (like exactly how much debt you have, how much money in the bank, etc.).

No statements of faith here--only objective FACT. Some people may think this is negative, but I have found that it is crucial to determine where you are before you can decide how far you have to go. It's only negative if you don't take action to improve your situation.

3. Skip over to the third column on the page. Now describe in very precise terms the specific result you want. Here's where faith steps in. Here's where you need to clearly see in your mind's eye the exact result you want. It's best if you can describe it in precise, specific, MEASURABLE terms.

4. In the second column, design the massive action plan you need to follow to take you from where you are to where you want to be.
What are all the actions you need to take that will automatically create the end result you want? Be thorough. Be specific. Don't censor anything. Think in terms of MASSIVE action. What are the daily actions you need to take? What beliefs do you need to change? What are the behavioral habits you need to install? What affirmations can you design that will install the thoughts and beliefs you need so that you are consistently moving in the direction of the results you want?

5. After you design the plans, determine how long you think it will take right now. Only after you design the plans can you realistically determine a date by which you will create the desired result. Otherwise you are only making an uneducated guess rather than an intelligent estimate. After you set your initial date, review your plans and ask "how can I accelerate the creation of my desired result?" There is POWER in speed and results-focused, massive action.

6. From here, go back and organize and refine your plan. What actions are you going to take WHEN? Set milestones. Now take DAILY action and measure your progress.

In business there are projects with well-defined objectives that are eventually reached and then there are on-going, daily operations that really never end. Both are critical. Building a bridge is a construction project. After the bridge is built, comes every day, routine use. There's a project for building the house, and then living in it every day after it's built. The same is true for your planning. There are periodic projects, like putting yourself through a goal setting process. Then there is a point where you turn the end result of the project over to ongoing, daily operations (your daily planning process).

How I Use My Computer in My Personal Planning


Even though I rely on my computer for a lot of things, even though I have about 5 different electronic PDA's ranging from Palm devices to Pocket PCs, I have been pretty frustrated when it comes to using my computer for my personal organizer. As far as the PDA's go, I have found that it takes too long to put in the information. And the screen is too small for my liking. I like to see my entire day on a single page. Laptops are getting better, but not portable enough yet.

And, as I've described above, I have a unique way of planning that just doesn't lend itself to the computer. So for now, I do the majority of my planning on paper in my planner. Besides, it’s much cheaper! So now, temporary lack of money is no excuse not to follow a systematic planning process.

Still there are two functions for which my computer has proven helpful:

1. Keeping my business calendar in sync with my associates. When there's a meeting to schedule, it's all done via email to all the related parties. And it appears on my desktop calendar (I still make a note of these meetings in my manual planner).

2. When brainstorming my list of results-focused activities for time periods of one week or longer (generally up to a year).

To create this list, I don't use a time-management software program. Instead, I use MS Word or Excel. That way, I can list the items at random and then sort or move them by category electronically.

The categories I use are generally my current goals. By grouping them by category, I can then take a look through the list and ask "what other results-focused activities can I take this week (or month, or year, etc.)?" And I can save the list for further manipulation later. I don't go through this process every day because I have found that a day is generally not a long enough period of time to make this extra work worthwhile. But to use this for longer periods of time (or to plan out special projects) has proven magical for me.

After I create this list, I keep it in my planner for future reference when I'm planning my day.

Some Miscellaneous Parts to My Personal Planning System

Here are some other things that I do only when is necessary rather than everyday that may help you:

1. Create a list of all the resources that are available to you. This is really critical. I've grown to prefer looking at my system for maximizing the use of all my RESOURCES rather than just my time. For me anyway this is a broader view and yet also a more specific focus than anyone else I've heard or studied. I can't touch "time." I can't touch "life." But I CAN manage and organize the physical tools available to me. Or my relationships, etc. And it's a lot easier to measure (and improve) how effectively I'm using a specific resource.

Hint: you have a LOT more resources available to you than you realize. But, they won't be available to you until you recognize that you have them. When I list my resources, I brainstorm everything I can possibly think of. My home, my car, the highway system, traffic lights, friends, American citizenship, local hotels, my courage, etc., As I review the list, I ask myself, "how can I manage my resources to accelerate the achievement of my goals?" Using this process you begin to make associations that were always possible, but that never came to your attention. It was exactly out of this exercise that I came to create my affirmation CDs.

One time I realized a local hotel near my work as a resource, I realized that I could stay there for a couple of weeks while I worked on a special project. Staying at the hotel reduced my round trip commute time from a couple of hours to about 5 minutes, reduced my stress, allowed me to work more hours, and meet a very tight deadline.

While it was expensive, the monetary value I received from being able to work extra hours was more than worth it--and I earned incredible good will from my client by meeting a mission critical, almost impossible deadline. The client never knew how I did it. If I hadn't taken the time to identify the hotel as a resource towards achieving a specific result, I never would have achieved the goal.

2. Each week I create a master plan for the week. While I use blank paper rather than his forms, this is the one part of my system that's closer to Tony Robbins planning system than other parts of my system. You'll do yourself a huge favor by purchasing his "Time of Your Life" audio program for a more detailed explanation.

3. Once per quarter, I re-listen to discs 9 and 10 from Tony Robbins Personal Power program to review and reset my goals. I do this in my hardbound journal. This is the best program that I have found for setting my long term goals in tandem with my GAP analysis outlined above.

4. When I set my goals, I also design a few specific affirmations to help me stay focused. I listen to my Power Affirmation CDs for a general tune up and to keep focused on these timeless principles. But I also write out affirmations specific to my current goals. For really important goals, I use my computer to record these affirmations on to CD. Usually not more than 2-3 affirmations per CD. The audio quality of these ad hoc CDs is obviously not as good as the ones I recorded in the studio, but they have helped me maintain a laser-like focus on my goals.

5. As you may have guessed, I listen (and re-listen) to the self-help programs of other authors relentlessly. This is especially true since I purchased my iPod. The Power Affirmation CDs are really supplemental to other programs for me. But, they have proven to be the catalyst to make these other programs work. Before I started using the Power Affirmation CDs, I didn't maintain enough concentrated focus to make real progress towards my goals. That all started to change about a month after listening to the CDs practically non-stop. I maybe crazy, but I like to think I'm crazy like a fox. I know what my life was like before and after I started listening to the CDs and there is virtually no comparison. And it keeps getting better and better.

Note: the whole idea of RAP came to me while listening to my Power Affirmation recordings. I doubt I would have ever been able to design this system for myself if I hadn't been listening to both the audio programs of others AND my Power Affirmation recordings. I'd still be stuck trying to figure out how to achieve my goals.

Since I started using this system in 2000, I have followed it almost daily. And I haven’t wasted any more time or money looking for new ways to organize my time. Before I settled into this system, periodically I would run out and get the latest book on time management, look for and try new computer software programs, try out new PDA’s, look for new manual systems. This is no longer an issue for me, because I now have a simple system that works for me. I hope you find that some variation of this system also works for you. Follow up and follow through.


Here is what you can do to spread the word about Power Affirmations:

1. Email this file to a friend (you should ask them first!).

2. Send them a link to where they can download their own free copy.

3. Print out as many copies as you like.

4. Make your own recordings or buy the MP3’s I’ve made at Using recordings of some sort is the most powerful way to use Power Affirmations.

5. What positive topic can you write about and create a website and e-book? Your only limit is your own imagination!

Together we can fill the world with positive thought.


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