Getting Things Done

Have you ever wondered how successful people seem to get more done? Do you ever find it really hard to get started and get things done? Have you ever stared blankly at your computer screen before writing, or done the housework instead of doing something you know is more important? I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there.

In order to be super effective, just like the super successful people, you need to have very strong habits and absolute self-discipline (amongst other things, but these two qualities are high up there) – I know it’s easy to write this… and it’s certainly not that easy to do.

I’d like to share with you a technique that I picked up recently that really works for me, and many other people too. But first of all I want to introduce you to the type of Resistance that we all suffer from. If you are anything like me, you will relate to this in a big way and you will already be well aware of its presence.

“Everyone who has a body experiences Resistance.”

In the book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes about the constant human battle the every single person has with Resistance.

So what is Resistance?

“It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. It’s aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.” (p7)

Resistance is basically anything that is stopping you from doing the things you know you need to do.

The following is a list, in no particular order, of those activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:

  • The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
  • The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profits or otherwise.
  • Any diet or health regime
  • Any program of spiritual advancement
  • Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals
  • Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction
  • Education of every kind
  • Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct ourselves
  • The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavour whose aim is to help others
  • Any act that entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, to wether a rocky patch in a relationship
  • The taking of any principled st and in the face of adversity.
  • In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification favour of long term growth, health, or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these will elicit Resistance

(P5-6)

How Does Resistance Manifest Itself?

Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalise. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead we say, “I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start it tomorrow.” (P.21)

How many times have you said that to yourself? I don’t even know how many times I’ve said “I’ll do it tomorrow”…I don’t want to know!

Resistance can include things like sex, masturbation, getting into trouble, being sick, and fear. There are many examples in the book, which provide more depth to underst anding how these elements become a form of Resistance.

If you really struggle with Resistance and procrastination I suggest you buy the book. It really gave me a kick in the ass and I know others who felt that it was written just for them.

There is hope…You Can Defeat Resistance!

“Defeating Resistance is like giving birth. It seems impossible until you remember that women have been pulling it off successfully, with support and without, for fifty million years.”

What a great quote, which comes back to my original purpose for writing this article. You see, it is possible to defeat Resistance, as long as you know exactly how it starts and exactly what to do about it. You can put small disciplines in place to make sure you can defeat it everyday. I have one example for you right now…

90 Minute Work Sessions as a discipline

This works for me, and many others, so there is a good chance it will work for you too. This technique was passed to me from Nigel Botterill.

Everyday I put aside 90 minutes of uninterrupted time to get work done. This might not sound like a lot, but how often do you get an hour and a half to spend on your work, with no one interrupting you?

You’ve heard of the 80/20 rule right? – The Pareto Principle. In this case, 80% of your best work is going to get done in 20% of your time. In a normal working week, spending 90 minutes a day fully concentrating on something, is about 20% of your time. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the 90 minute sessions really do work!

I literally turn off my phone and the Internet (unless I’m working on the Internet). I deliberately stay away from social media and the sorts of things that will distract me.

By putting in this discipline everyday you’re effectively putting something in place to beat Resistance.

Unfortunately, no one is going to do it for you…it’s entirely up to you – you’re the one that has to discipline yourself.

The book had such a big impact upon me that I felt the need to share it with you. I also wanted to share this little discipline tactic with you too.

Do You Have Any Suggestions?

Perhaps you have your own discipline that ensures you get work done? If you do, please share it with everyone by commenting below.

What do you do to make sure you get work done?

Don’t forget to be awesome!

Chris.

Do you ever get the feeling of being overwhelmed by the task(s) in front of you? Like there’s no way you can get through all your work?

I had one of those days recently where everything just seemed to be mounting up in front of me, and for a moment I panicked. Have you ever felt like this? Like there’s no end in sight?

I’m getting a little better everyday at recognising the reasons for why my mood changes, which means I can react quicker and get better at dealing with it. I thought to myself…

“Stop for a moment, breathe and think rationally about how to get these tasks complete”

Become an expert in your own life

I have my journal which I can go to and write down why I feel like I do, and try and work out how I can move forward. The journal is a great tool for studying your own life, I suggest you try it. You can begin to track your behaviour and how you react to situations. Here’s a great tip from a very wise man…

Become an expert in your own life & stop studying other people’s lives

– Jim Rohn.

6 Tips for getting rid of that overwhelming feeling

Here’s a few things you can do to make that overwhelming feeling a little more manageable: –

  1. Write down all the things you’ve got to do;
  2. Figure out what the most important task is, and do that first;
  3. If it will only take 2 minutes to do, do it right now;
  4. You could also just start working on anything. Just starting will make you feel a lot better;
  5. Delegate tasks to other people – recognise that you may not be able to do everything yourself;
  6. Out of all the stuff that’s not vital or important, decide whether you need to do it at all. Sometimes there are tasks that just don’t add value – trash these!

How do you get things done?

It would be great if you could share your own stories and tips for getting things done and making your life more manageable. What works for you? Why?

First of all…HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone, I hope you have all enjoyed the holiday season!?

It is a great time of year to think about all that you have achieved in the past year and what you want to do in the new year. New year resolutions are a great way to think about what you want to achieve over the next year, and we all know what the common ones are 🙂

I have read a few Facebook/Instagram/Twitter posts today from people posting their resolutions. Writing down your resolutions is a great thing to do as it gets you committed, sharing them with people is also another great way to commit. From what I have seen so far I feel that structuring them in a slightly different way will help to think about exactly how you are going to go about achieving what you want and also help you realise why you are doing it in the first place.

I previously talked about SMART goals from a management perspective, and we can adapt this to structure personal goals and new year resolutions.

Each goal should be descriptive in nature and include the following elements:

Specific Be very specific about what you want to achieve – what it is and why.
Measurable Make sure you are able to measure it, so you know you are working towards your goal.
Achievable Make sure you have the ability to reach your goal. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are not achieving anything – but this is not an excuse to make it easy.
Realistic Similar to above; make sure the goal is realistic. You may want to increase or adapt your goal as time goes on, as you get better/used to it. Initially, make sure the goal is within your grasp.
Time bound Give yourself a target, a time in the future when you want to be at a specific level or position.

We can now apply this structure to a few examples

Example 1 – “I want to get more exercise”

SMART version
Currently I exercise once or twice per month and I would like to increase that to two times per week, which I feel is realistic according to my current schedule. I will go to the gym on Wednesday evenings at 6pm (directly after work) and Sunday mornings at 10am. I want to lose weight and get fitter, so I will weigh myself once per week and measure my fitness by how long I can run for; I will aim to lose 1lb a fortnight and run two miles in twenty minutes, and increase these targets as I get better. I will review this in March and increase my cardio and weight targets as I see fit.

Example 2 – “I want to eat healthier”

SMART version
I would like to improve my eating habits and ensure I eat between 3 and 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. I also eat out far too much so I am going to cut out restaurants and take aways to once per week, with the aim to cut it down to once per month by June 2012. In order to help myself achieve this I am going to go shopping once per week, on a Sunday, and buy all the food, fruit and vegetables that I need to last me the week, which will also save me time and money. The reason for doing this is to be healthier but also to lose weight, so I will weigh myself once per week with aim to reduce my weight by 1lb a fortnight, I will increase my fruit and veg consumption to 5 portions per day by March 2012.

Helping to track your achievements

There are some great free apps available online now, which can be used on several platforms. I use all the below applications to help me keep notes and lists.

  • Commit – A great way to gamify your commitments – try it on your iPhone, I love it!
  • Remember The Milk – Great for managing several task lists at once.
  • Evernote – Can be used to keep track of your everything
  • Google Docs – Notes used for things to do lists

I hope this helps you to think about your goals slightly differently.

Please post any comments below, it would be great to get some input – any of your own examples of your new year resolutions are perfectly welcome.

Thanks and all the best for 2012!

Chris.

I was about to give written advice to a few people that work for me on how to manage deadlines… and I thought “why don’t I just blog it”…two birds with one stone!

When you work for someone else there is a very good chance that you will be delegated tasks to complete. Sometimes these tasks may be delegated in a very structured manner and sometimes they may not. But regardless of how they are delegated, what should be clear is that your boss wants something from you by a certain time.

It is important to be able to manage your deadlines effectively for several reasons: –

  1. To prove to your manager that you are competent
  2. To show that you are well organised
  3. To show your line manager that you are committed and confident
  4. You will be able to manage your workload effectively
  5. When your manager asks you to complete something you will be able to confidently confirm if the deadline is achievable – which in some cases it might not be.

You will know yourself how strict your manager is with deadlines, but here are few pointers for managing your deadlines: –

Put the deadline date in your diary
Note the deadline in your diary and then work back from that date. Schedule in time for when you are going to sit and work on this task or project.

Start the task early
Make sure you start thinking about the task early on. Take notes and gather any information you need. You don’t want to be worrying about it 2 or 3 days before h and and then realise you need information from someone that you cannot get a hold of.

Make sure you are happy with what you have to achieve
Take the time very early on to ask your manager any questions in order to clarify your delegated task – make sure it is SMART!

Break down the task into smaller parts
Sometimes it may be appropriate to break the task down into smaller parts and work on each part separately. This will make the task more manageable for you.

Set yourself targets
Once you have broken your task into small more manageable parts set yourself targets that lead up to the deadline… and make sure you put them in your diary.

Get others to help you
Maybe you can get others to help you with certain parts of the task? Not only will this help you out, it may also tie in with individual personal development.

Submit the work early
This will give your manager time to look at the work you have completed, and if necessary, ask you to tweak or amend certain details…there is a good chance that the work you are completing for your manager is to meet a deadline from his/her manager.

Preempt the deadline
In most organisations there are things that happen at the same time every year. If you know when they are then preempt your manager delegating a task to you.

What if you don’t think the deadline is achievable – can you say no?
Depending on how lenient your manager is you may be able to negotiate the deadline. If you are already very organised you will be able to show your manager the reasons why you cannot achieve the deadline and he/she may allow you to negotiate your other deadlines based on priority.

It is all quite straight forward and if you are naturally organised you will find it easy to meet deadlines.

I hope that you find this useful and please leave a comment if you can build on what I have written here.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

When it’s time for annal appraisals remember to spend time talking about career development and personal goals. Try to look at appraisals as a personal development tool…key word – PERSONAL!!

Give your employees time to discuss their own personal achievements and goals.
Find a way that you can help and support them to achieve their goals and become successful.

Inspired by this quip from Dilbert:

Dilbert Setting Goals