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How to Get Stuff Done: A Quick Guide

How to Get Stuff Done: A Quick Guide
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    Have you ever felt like your to do list is completely out of control and you’re just not getting anywhere? You have jobs piling up and you just don’t know where to start?

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    You’re not alone. Many of us spend a large proportion of our time chasing our tails as we strive to get too many things done too quickly. The thing is – there are a couple of very simple things that we can do to make all the difference when it comes to ‘getting stuff done’.

    Setting yourself up for failure

    Have you ever considered that there may be a very good reason why you’re not completing some of those tasks on your to-do list? That’s right – often we will set ourselves tasks that we don’t really believe in and that have little value to us and then we wonder why we never end up getting those things done!

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    One of the easiest ways to make your to-do list more manageable is to run a full blown assessment. Does every item deserve to be on the list? Or can you cross a few items off knowing that, in the grand scheme of things it won’t really impact your life that much.

    Another mistake people make is prioritizing other peoples most important tasks. Make sure you ask yourself who’s task it is on your list – is it really important to YOU or has someone close to you made you feel like it should be important – when in reality it’s not. Never feel like what’s important to others should also by default be important to you!

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    Focus on value and outcome

    Consider the value of the tasks on your list before you commit to them. If we focus on the task its-self it’s very difficult to motivate ourselves – however if we focus on the outcome or the result of the task – it’s much easier to get excited and power through, knowing it will all be worthwhile in the end.

    Banish any fear you may have around the tasks – is something stopping you from making a start? Often fear of failure will stop us from attempting things so it’s a good idea to adjust your attitude towards this. Understand that failure is a prerequisite for success – as Henry Ford said:

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    “Failure is the ability to begin again, only this time more wisely.”

    Get comfortable with the notion of failure – knowing that it only assists us on the path to success. Think back to the most successful innovators of our time such as Thomas Edison – if he had allowed a fear of failure to stop him from progressing imagine the consequences. We would be living in darkness! Edison conversely was quoted as saying:

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    “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

    How to Get Stuff Done 

    1. If you find yourself procrastinating – check in to determine if you really want to achieve the tasks
    2. Identify the true ‘value’ of the task – how committed are you? Is it really worth it? What will you get by completing it?
    3. Check that the task is yours and no-one elses! If you’re trying to do it for someone else then you should re-evaluate if it’s worthwhile
    4. Focus on the outcome, not the task its-self. If you’re truly passionate about the task then the result should inspire & motivate you to forge ahead and get it done
    5. Overcome your fear of failure. Adjust your attitude and know that failure is a prerequisite for success

    (Photo credit: Mug with Memo Notes Stuck to It via Shutterstock)

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    Zoe B

    A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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