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Train Tracks and Getting Things Done


One day recently I was stopped at a railroad bridge and started thinking about what we learned as kids about crossing the train tracks. Stop, look, and listen. Do you remember that?

The next morning I looked at the mountain of work on my desk – as well as those bright, shiny objects across the room – and wondered where I should start. I picked up the task on the top and started to work.

Shortly I became distracted and found myself on the way to the kitchen for another cup of tea.

Back to my desk. What was I working on?

I actually picked up the pile on the desk and on the bottom was my planner. I am usually quite good about starting my day with looking at what’s on top and reviewing what needs to be done. But not today.

Then my mind drifted back to the railroad bridge. I realized I could put those same words to use with my work.


Don’t just dive into your day or the first item on your desk. It’s too easy to start with the idea that you want to just move it all along.


See what is scheduled for the day and consider what you need to accomplish and what your priorities are. You don’t want to spend time on “busy work” just so it’s done. You want to spend your time on something that counts.


Ask yourself if those items are still pertinent or something else needs to be done. Priorities can change and you need to be aware of that.

Putting the words into action

As I went through the day, I thought about those words and how they came into play as I worked. For me, look and listen both meant to give my full attention to something. That certainly was the purpose of looking and listening for the train on the tracks. Keeping those words in mind really let me focus on what needed to get done.

Mid-afternoon I often take a break. It might be to sit with a glass of iced tea and look at a magazine or, as yesterday, to take a walk through the yard. I thought about how I put those same words into action here. I stopped, gave my attention to relaxing, and listened to the sounds around me.

At the end of each day, I try to review what I accomplished and set an agenda for the next day. (Try being the operative word on some days.) Again, it was stopping what I was doing, looking at what I did, and listening to what needed to be done next.

It’s your turn!

How do you put those words into action?


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4 Responses to “Train Tracks and Getting Things Done”

  1. Roxane Lessa said:

    Morna, so true! I just wrote a post on my blog about the same idea! Must be synchronisity! It’s about being mindful and planning your day to get certain things done, and not being distracted by all the bright shiny objects out there. I find a lot of peace in that idea. To read mine:

  2. Susan Emory said:

    Morna – The best advice you’ve ever given me is to recap accomplishments at the end of each day. It makes me realize that I’m not spinning my wheels and am getting a lot done, even if there is so much more to do. Now, I will ad preparing for the next day to that list. Thanks so much!

  3. Morna said:

    Roxanne, love the idea of on and off ramp. It’s a great visual to decide about staying or not on the highway.

  4. Morna said:

    Susan, You’re welcome. It’s often the little action — the recapping — that makes a difference. It is really easy for entrepreneurs to just go to the next thing and forget to take stock of what they are accomplishing. We tend to see so much that needs action!

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