Recently I chatted with my client Bethany about her problems getting things done. She seemed to make little progress on what she said her goals were. She would start a project then get distracted by something else. Or she would start a project, then think another project sounded more exciting and she would shift her focus. And, often she ended up caught because she missed deadlines. Then she felt worse because she let people other than herself down.
As we talked about this, we hit on a number of reasons that were at play: procrastination; the need to be perfect; distractions by other things, aka Bright Shiny Object Syndrome; failure to prioritize. You may have others.
So how can you get the right things done? Here are nine tips for exercising what I call your “done” muscle.
1. Get clear about what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Once you have clarity around your goals and/or a particular project, it is much easier to move forward. As you work, keep your eye on the prize. This will help you make progress.
2. Break your project down into manageable tasks. When you look at a goal or a specific project, it can seem overwhelming. If you can break it down into bite-size pieces, it is always easier to see how you can accomplish it.
3. Look for where you need help. Just because you have a big project, does not mean that you need to do it all yourself. Remember, it is not necessary to know how to do everything, just what needs to be done.
4. Prioritize what needs to be done. This can apply to a specific project or your daily “to do” list. Bethany got in the habit of looking for the quick and uncomplicated things on her list so she could check them off. It made her feel like she was accomplishing something. The problem is you are not really accomplishing what you need to accomplish. What you should be doing is tackling those projects that move you towards completing your goal.
5. Consider the ROI. That’s Return on Investment. You can look at your tasks and see if time spent doing these tasks is worth your time. Maybe you should delegate the tasks or not even do them at all.
6. Finish what you start. Make that your goal. Really look around at how many people actually finish what they set out to do. Many people say they are going to do something and do not ever complete it.
7. Remember good enough is often good enough. Sometimes we spend so much time aiming for perfection that we don’t accomplish our goals.
8. Regard your priorities as commitments or obligations. Value your work — and by extension yourself — enough to view priorities as “must dos.”
9. Don’t over-think everything. As the Nike ad says, “Just do it.”
If you have a tip for exercising your “done” muscle, please share it on the blog.