Action words inspire. Action words motivate. Action words get things done. So why don’t we use them more? Long ago I discovered the power of using action words in my email correspondence, meeting notes, to-do lists, and more, and it’s not only made me more productive, it’s streamlined my life. Here’s a few places where you should consider inserting action words into your daily routine:
1. Meeting Notes: I’m an obsessive note-taker, so for years I’d walk away from meetings with pages of detailed notes. The problem was, I never referred to them again. Unless you’re the secretary who’s job it is to record the meeting, stop taking notes, and start creating an “action list.” What are you supposed to do as a result of the meeting? That list will prove far more important and helpful than pages of facts and notations.
2. Email: Using action words in emails will cut your emails in half. For instance, explain less and simply be direct. This post has a great list of words to stop using in emails and what you should substitute instead. The truth is, if you use action words correctly, a significant number of your emails won’t have a message at all – it will all be contained in the Subject line. And trust me – your recipients will love receiving emails that are shorter and to the point.
3. To Do Lists: I used to create my to-do list as a random string of thoughts or phrases. But now, I never say, “Don’t forget to stop by the pharmacy on the way home.” Instead I say: “Pick Up Allergy Medicine at CVS.” Be specific and be direct. “Write the Jenkins proposal Tuesday morning.” “Move up the marketing meeting.” And while you’re at it, stop using words with “ing.” Action words make you DO things and get things done.
Chances are, you’re floundering in your career because you’re not being definite. Start using action words and see how being more direct will help you reach your goals more quickly and without as much distraction.