How to Get Stuff Done
I’ve just finished ‘Finish, Give Yourself the Gift of Done’ by Jon Acuff. Ironically finishing books is something I’m rather good at. Sadly, I can’t say this for every project I’ve started.
I love starting and planning projects and constantly have loads of ideas bouncing around. Unfortunately, I can easily get thrown off track and before I’ve finished something, I’ve moved onto another project.
It’s not just a work thing, I still have boxes sitting in the garage waiting to be unpacked four years after moving to Wales – oops!
This book really resonated with me and scarily, it was like it was speaking directly to me. It was discussing how perfection kills more dreams than anything else and stops you from ever finishing the important things.
Perfection is a particular interest of mine and it’s been something I’ve had to work on many, many times over the years. This book highlighted areas I still needed to address and gave me some new insights I hadn’t considered before. Especially on how it got in the way of completing things but importantly, some useful strategies on what I could do about it.
I thought I’d share some of the useful tips to getting stuff done both from ‘Finish’ and other lessons I’ve learned over the years:
Focus on one big goal at a time
It’s too easy to promise yourself you have the capacity to take on 13 different projects at once. In reality, you’ll start lots but never finish any. Decide which one goal or project will make the biggest difference to you or your business and focus on that. You will make much more progress if your attention is kept on one thing until it’s finished.
Half your goal
We often set goals that are so big and extreme that we have absolutely no chance in hell of ever achieving them.
I’m the person who writes a job list for the weekend which realistically would take a month to complete. I now download everything I want to do and pick my priority to complete that weekend. Anything else is a bonus!
Give yourself time
If you can’t half the goal for whatever reason, give yourself more time to complete it. Most of us are guilty of thinking we can get way more done than is physically possible in a set time period. Take the pressure off and allow yourself the time needed to complete the project properly.
Let go of other stuff
You can’t do it all! If you have a project which is important to you, make peace with letting go of things (and people) that aren’t your priority. Do this for at least for the duration of you completing your goal. This can be as simple as sacrificing a TV show, time spent on hobbies or spending time with people who aren’t supportive of you.
Make it fun
The easiest way to ensure you’ll do something is to make it fun. We so often equate the idea of completing a project with it having to be a slog and hard work. If you make whatever you do fun or reward yourself with something fun once you’ve finished each step, you’re more likely to do it.
Where do you hide when you’re procrastinating? What are the jobs you do which on the outside may seem important but are really a way of you avoiding doing any work? Are you hiding behind things that pose as important but aren’t your priority?
I get side-tracked and start tidying or sorting out things in the house, kidding myself it’s important and has to be done now.
Identify your personal hiding places and recognise when you are avoiding working on something. Tell a trusted friend or your partner to call you out if they see you doing something when you should be working.
Your secret rules
What are the rules you’ve created about the project you’re doing? Are you putting unreasonable pressure on yourself about what you should do, have to do, need to do, must do? Identify the statements you’re telling yourself and challenge them – is this the truth? Really? Take the rule and decide on a new rule to replace it and reinforce them to yourself as affirmations. I surround myself with post-it-notes to remind me of my new rules such as ‘done is better than perfect’ and ‘keep it simple’.
Celebrating progress is the way to recognise what you are achieving. In Finish, Jon Acuff suggests using data as you can’t argue with the cold hard facts in front of you. E.g. how many words have you written today, how many social media posts have you created, how many email subscribers do you have. The numbers don’t lie and will help you to recognise your progression and keep you motivated.
While you are completing your project, you will, of course, be coming up with loads of ideas for other things you could be doing instead. Have somewhere to capture these so you remember them and can refer to them once you have finished your project. This will keep them safe and stop them from taking up space in your brain.
Day before done
You’re just coming up to the finish line and the fear starts. Fear will tell you all sorts of stories of what might happen next. It’s amazing how many people get to this stage and then fear strikes and convinces them to stop. Fear will test you to the limit making you question yourself, are you good enough? What happens next? What if someone criticizes your work? If you don’t finish, you can’t fail, and the list goes on. If you find yourself stopping at this stage, think about what you’re achieving by stopping at this stage. Remind yourself of why you started in the first place and get help to work through it.
If you find you struggle with perfection and getting projects finished, I highly recommend reading Finish by Jon Acuff for lots of practical tips. Use your support network to help you through the challenges or get a coach to keep you accountable and moving forward.
If you want to find out how I can help you get stuff finished, contact me for a chat.
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