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How to Get Stuff Done: A Quick Guide

How to Get Stuff Done: A Quick Guide


    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:

    “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)

    More by this author

    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 23, 2019

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

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    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Stay Motivated

    Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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