Getting Things Done – How I Do So Much, And How You Can Too

"getting things done"

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getting things done

I haven’t always had it so together.

Truth be told, I don’t have it ALL together now. I know you might think I seem to have a lot of ‘it’ together though, whatever it is 🙂 I know that I give that perception online, and I want you to know that it’s not the full reality. What you see on the internet never is.

There are days when I am like a headless chook running around in circles and manage nothing except perhaps stressing out myself and everyone else around me. Days when I not just waste time but effectively kill it and its buddies as well.

And even days where I act that way deliberately, where I decided that I just don’t give two hoots about trying to be superwoman.

Mostly though, I am very good at getting things done.

I seem to get better at this with each passing year. I don’t just mean better at being busy, which was a previous trap for me. You know, kidding yourself about how productive you are because you’re constantly ‘on’. Being busy and being effective (and happy/at peace) are definitely not the same thing.

So when I say I’m good at getting things done, I mean I get a lot that I want to or that is important to me done. And I’m becoming ever better at NOT getting stuff done that actually doesn’t tie in to my values, my passions, the things that truly matter. ‘Cause when all is said and done, I do want to look back and think “man, that was great. And I’m so glad I did it the way I did”.

why it’s paramount that you get the RIGHT stuff done

The truth is that if you’re going to be able to look back on your life and think something similar, then you’re going to need to be able to look back on each year and say that. Which means you’ll need to be able to say the same about each month. Each week. Each day.

And even every single moment, if it were possible to actually analyse in that much detail. (Don’t worry, I don’t go that far!)

But you see what I’m saying, don’t you? ‘It’ ain’t gonna happen by magic. NOW is the time when you create your dream life. Now is the time you create your future, and your future is now. Here’s a tip. If your actions and habits over the past 30 days don’t reflect someone moving toward their goals, then NOW is the time to change.

Not tomorrow. Not when you’re ready. Not when you have time for it.

Because what could possibly truly be more important than having time to sculpt your LIFE for heavens sakes? Answer – it sure isn’t all the busy stuff that keeps you overwhelmed and frustrated. That stuff, the ‘urgent but not really important stuff’? It’s gotta go.

Here’s how I manage to keep life’s busywork down to a dull roar, and keep my mind and my energy focused on creating so much of the stuff that matters to me.

Just one more quick note, before I jump into it. This was not a hastily pulled together list for a blog post. Over the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of very intent-based journaling around living my best life and what really works. This is the stuff that – out of hundreds and hundreds of techniques or ideas I’ve tried – really does make my life easier, more meaningful, and helps me to finish each day and say “wow, that was great. I feel so good/proud/happy etc”.

This stuff works for me. It may very well help you get a lot of (important) things done. You’ll have to test that out to know for sure 🙂

how to get a lot of things done. a lot of things that matter!

1. I complete at least one ‘must do’ task first thing in the morning before anything else. For me a must do is something that’s important, something that brings me closer to my goals and passions. Something that will still have an impact on my life in 5 years. Today I spent time writing on my new book at 5.30am, The Woman Incredible Look Great Naked Training Plan. My urge was to get on top of emails and check Facebook. Or to stay in bed. I didn’t. I haven’t. I got up. I’ve created great content for 2.5 hours now and it’s only 8am. Feels great, even on the days when I only manage 20 minutes of something important first thing.

2. Daily journalling. A must. Every time I convince myself that this doesn’t matter, I soon find that it does. I notice I’m more stressed. Less goal and passion focused. Less clear on what matters to me. Journaling helps me to be clear, focused, positive and grateful. It helps me spout ideas like there’s no tomorrow and it helps me get the ‘stuff’ out of my head. I do at least 10 minutes a day, often more. Usually in the morning.

3. Doing first things first. We spoke about that. But I can’t overemphasise it. Leave the ‘have tos’ for later in the day. If they’re truly a have to, you’ll make them happen. Do the ‘want-tos-but-never-have-time-tos’ first. Or they’ll rarely happen.

4. Identifying first things before that; having a daily plan. You have to have a plan. Each day I note down everything I want to and have to get done. I identify my ‘A’ tasks (will impact me in 5 years or more), ‘B’ tasks, (2 years or more), and ‘C’ tasks (90 days). I spend a minimum of 50% of my time on A stuff. And I do it first. Always. It’s taken time and discipline to be able to do this. It’s been worth it!

5. Having a big picture plan but also WORKING ACTIVELY TOWARD IT. I have an annual calendar, which notes just 2-4 items for each month of the year. These are based on my big picture goals and beliefs, which I also spend regular time fine-tuning. See the next point. At the start of each month, I get more specific with my key focus points for that month. Each week I nut out the main task that I’m going to focus on for each day of the week. Each day I break my tasks down into A, B and C. My big goals become reality because of this daily discipline.

6. Setting intentions. At the start of this year I decided to set ‘intentions’, which I guess are like goals but are more reflective of who I want to be as well rather than being purely ‘facts and figures’ based. I set 54 of them. Yesterday I looked back over my list for the first time since writing it. As I read I started to realise how many things I could already tick off the list. It ended up being …over 20 items. Serious goose bump moment, as everything on that list was stuff I thought was going to take the better part of the year. Big stuff. And I hadn’t even set actions or actively worked on this list. Many self-help experts say goalsetting and the law of attraction is a waste of time. I say, you get what you think about.

7. Thinking about what I want to get out of the day before I start. I don’t mean the task list. Do the A, B and C, ’cause it is very helpful. (Thanks to Steve Pavlina for this idea). But now I’m talking about stopping for a moment. Ask yourself, “what would make today a 10″. I write a little bullet point list at the top of my task list. It includes some of my creative work, but often also stuff like playing and fully engaging with Alyssa, meditating/praying on the trampoline after my workout if I’m at home. LIFE stuff not just work stuff.

8. Writing what I’m called to write rather than what I think I should write. Modify this if you are not a writer. Of course! But what I mean is to follow my heart and my passions. To write this post because I feel very passionately about it, rather than pushing out a ’10 Ways To Lose Belly Fat’ post. Not that I won’t probably do that post at some point. Or already have 🙂 just that today, I don’t ‘feel’ it. I follow my goals and plans but I also follow my heart, especially with my creative work. Where could you inject a little heart-felt behaviour into your life?

9. Training even when I don’t want to; perhaps especially when I don’t want to. Sweating every day is part of my daily routine. Or at least moving vigorously! It clears my mind, I enjoy it once I start, I feel physically and mentally good afterwards. Enough said. I know that I’m blessed in that I never have to worry or wonder about what sort of training to do, and certainly I don’t spend ages doing it. This is one reason for my writing the Look Great Naked Training Plan for you!

10. Consistently getting up early. I could sleep until I wake up on my days off. I could go to work later on my days on if I chose. I could wake up groggy and embracing slow starts and tiredness, or I could take advantage of 2-3 hours daily where I’m at my best, before the world awakes. Where I often get more work done than most people do in a day. Sometimes I have a 20 minute nap in the afternoon to make up for getting up so early even if tired. It’s a better use of time than afternoon dilly-dallying and sugar munching. And if you think about it, that’s at least 730 extra hours of quality time each year. What could you achieve with an extra 730 hours?

11. Taking risks, having faith, jumping off the cliff. I’ve cultivated a belief in myself in order to create motivation. I believe that I can do anything I set out to do, if I truly want it. Sometimes you have to jump off a cliff; take a chance. Now.

12. The email thing. It could be Facebook. Cleaning the house. Answering calls. Running errands. Going to time-wasting meetings. Even reading the paper. Do NOT do this stuff first. Be strong. It will consume your day. And your life. It’s an awful thought, but it’s very true and a lot of people miss their entire lives just because they’re busy putting out little fires. Don’t be one of them.

14. Doing small things right away before they build up and become huge big scary things. The above point being said, it takes 2 seconds to file a bill or receipt. To put the groceries away. To pick something up on the floor as you walk past. Be goal and passion focused. Don’t be a complete pig 🙂

15. Decluttering one small part of the house each week. Or your office. Your inbox. Whatever. Certain things do need to be kept in order. I allocate 25 minutes each Sunday to decluttering one part of the house. A drawer. A box of childhood stuff. It’s often fun. And I never feel as though my life is building up around me, but nor am I particularly house or ‘order’ focused in general day to day!

16. Timer when I can’t knuckle down. Sometimes I have a must do or even a want to do that I can’t focus myself on. For whatever reason. I use an online timer when this happens. I set it for 25 or 30 minutes and I go nuts. It’s motivating, and there’s a nice resounding GONG at the end which makes me feel very productive. These days I use the timer very rarely, as I’ve followed my own rules on being passion and goal focused. So I’m naturally driven to do the stuff I’m doing most of the time.

17. Changing my environment, going somewhere new. Spontaneity is important to me. It’s important to you too. Work somewhere different for a day. Convince your boss, if you have one. Work from home, or a cafe. Go to a different cafe! Go sit in a park and read something useful. Take 2 hours to go to an art gallery. Drive a different way to work or take the bus for a change. Mix it up! Live! Turn your brain on!

I’ll probably think of things to add to this list as time passes. And I could happily write an entire post about how to journal for great living, for example. Maybe I will. I think I do feel like that would be good to do 🙂

Anyway, I don’t do all of this stuff every day, but I do most of it most days. And without fail, every item on this list makes a difference and when I get out of the habit of it, I notice the difference. I become less efficient, less content, and most concerning of all, less passion and value focused.

It matters to me to live my life now, on my terms. I know it matters to you too. So whether or not it’s by borrowing from my list or creating your own list, I urge you to find out what it takes for you. And DO it.