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The rearview mirror effect

March 1, 2010
by Bernie Reifkind
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As you know, from the perspective of a healthcare executive recruiter, I am constantly fascinated by employment and how successful people accomplish great things.

In that light, I was reading the Harvard Business Publishing Web site and I came upon an article written about creating a self-imposed deadline when it comes to our work and the tasks that need to be accomplished. This reminds me of the pleasure that one achieves in the “rearview mirror” effect. Let me explain.

One of the most effective tools in any work environment is to plan your day early as to what you intend to accomplish that day. You know the saying that “The early bird catches the worm”?

Plan your day early, but plan on accomplishing at least three of your goals by noon. Then in the afternoon, finish the rest of your goals by the end of the day.

If you have three tasks accomplished by noon, then things look terrific in the rearview mirror by noon. Then you have really set the tone for an effective day.

Putting your head down and not being distracted by the Internet, coworkers' “war stories,” personal issues, bill paying-just getting it done-three things-and I can almost guarantee that your day will be more effective.

The obvious question is what three things can you do by noon? My answer to that is do the three most challenging tasks that you have planned.

Make the difficult phone calls, finish the budget report, make a hiring or a firing decision, do your business development, do the toughest things first and see if you can have it done by noon. Then look through the rearview mirror of your day (at noon!) and pride yourself on what you have accomplished so far. This seems easy and it may be, but believe me it is powerful.

Just creating goals alone is fine and dandy but giving yourself until noon to accomplish your three most challenging tasks will boost your productivity exponentially.

In addition, seeing things in the rearview mirror just feels good. Isn't that worth the effort?

Bernie Reifkind is CEO and founder of Premier Search (, a healthcare executive search firm in Los Angeles. He can be reached by e-mail at or (800) 801-1400. Long-Term Living 2010 March;59(3):58