Getting things done is a large part of living abundantly because it involves making the most of your time so you can be more productive and accomplish your dreams. But what is the secret to getting things done?
As I’ve been watching the Olympics, the one thought that keeps recurring to my mind with each breathtaking performance is “I wonder what kind of discipline it must have taken for them to get here right now”.
Expert Advice For Getting Things Done
There is a lot of advice out there on the secret to getting things done.
Christie Mims of the Muse says it’s having a routine.
David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” and the GTD Method says it’s about paying attention to what has your attention and then appropriately dealing with it to get it off your mind.
The Co-Chief Executive of Whole Foods says we can only function at an optimum level for about 90 minutes, then we have to do go and do something else.
Tova Payne says its Discipline and Self-Awarenes.
Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less, says “control your choices about how you spend your time and energy and get the right things done at the right time.
I realized each Olympian has their own individual routine that got them to where they are today, some that came with more struggles than others. But one thing they all have in common is despite what system they used, they all did what it took daily to get the things done that would ultimately get them to the Olympics.
In the same way, there is a way I've found to process each day to get me closer to my goals, lifelong dreams and accomplishments.
My Simple Secret To Getting Things Done
Over the years I have managed to get some extraordinary things done while working a full-time job, traveling for work and raising a kid.
A few of these things were:
- Helping my husband successfully plan and execute two multi-concert community outreach events that drew over 13,000 people.
- Designing and executing a remodel of three youth rooms at our church all at the same time.
- Organizing and supervising a community carnival.
There have been so many people in my life that have asked me “how do you do it all?” that I thought I’d share my secret to getting things done.
I don’t like waiting around, not for doctors, not for mechanics and definitely not for things to happen in my own life, if I can make them happen now.
My secret to getting things done is a blend of all of the advice of the experts listed above in a simplified form and here it is:
Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
I live by this mantra of "do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today" and if at all possible, I take action on the random thoughts that come into my head at the moment they do.
Did you catch that? I simply take action on the random thoughts that come into my head as soon as they do.
Key phrase there is "take action".
For example, here are a few of the random thoughts that occurred to me recently and how I dealt with them.
Get Random Thoughts Done
Random Thought #1
I was reading over the five-year vision I wrote last Summer for how I see my life in five years. One of the things I saw was my son, thriving as a worship leader in our Church Youth group. It reminded me that I had set one of my new year’s resolutions to get guitar lessons for my son, but had put it off because it was the middle of his basketball season.
I realized Basketball is over now. I picked up the phone, called a local studio where I know the owner and scheduled his first lesson for Tuesday.
If I hadn’t taken action on that thought, I might have written it down on my to-do list and not marked it as a priority and it may have been carried over day after day. Then I would have missed the February registration deadline at the studio. I used this random thought to my advantage to accomplish one of my resolutions this year.
Random Thought #2
I was on my way to an appointment and remembered that the paint on my car is starting to peel from the repair work the body shop did after my accident last year. My lease is up soon and I don’t want to get dinged for that when I turn in the car. I called the auto shop and set up a time to stop by after my appointment. I met with them on my way home and they agreed to fix the paint at no charge. I will drop the car off in April to be fixed.
Random Thought #3
Two of my closest friends in the world have birthdays within one month of each other. When I found out one of them was coming home from Texas for her birthday, I immediately texted her and asked if she would have any time to get together for a joint birthday brunch. She gave me her avails. I then texted my best friend to see if that time worked for her and it did. I signed into Open Table and booked a reservation for the brunch.
Had I not acted on that random thought, her schedule may have filled up and I may have missed spending time with her on her birthday.
Random Thought #4
I finally laid my head down on the pillow at the end of the day and remembered that I forgot to make Luke’s lunch. I got up and made it right then, so I could sleep peacefully and avoid any morning rush the next day. (and at other times I delegated it to my husband. See next section)
Delegate Random Thoughts
If a thought comes into my head that I can’t take action on immediately, I try to delegate it to someone who can,
AKA, my husband.
To be clear, my husband has the opposite philosophy on life, he procrastinates everything. So sometimes we have a communication breakdown when I try this strategy because when I ask him to do something, I mean “do it right now” and he hears “do this when you happen to remember it”.
I once woke up in the middle of the night thinking of things that I needed his help with and sent him an email with the subject line "Do Not Procrastinate". My best friend uses that as a joke with her own husband "be glad I don't send you to-do list emails at 3am while lying next to you".
I’ve since settled down and simply put timeframes around my asks for him, which helps a lot.
For example, I have no musical skills whatsoever. After setting up Luke’s guitar lesson, I realized we would need to tune the guitar and get new strings, which I could not do myself.
My husband is a musician so I texted him and asked if he could get Luke’s guitar up to speed by Tuesday. He texted back “yes”. Now that random thought is no longer plaguing me so I can focus on other things like writing this blog post.
Write Down Your Random Thoughts
For tasks that I cannot do at the present moment and cannot delegate, I write them down.
Then I look to schedule the time in my calendar for when I will accomplish them.
It really is as simple as that.
Get Daily Tasks Done
For daily tasks, I apply the “kill two birds with one stone” approach as much as possible. I empty the dishwasher while I’m waiting for the coffee to brew. I throw in a load of laundry while I’m doing my morning quiet time. I shave my legs while I wait for my beauty mask to dry. I make phone calls to people I need to catch up with while I'm in the car, etc.
Moving Life Goals Forward
The method I use for getting things done to move my big life goals forward taps into the routine and self-discipline advice from the experts.
I set aside certain days to do certain things. Saturdays are for checking in on my big dreams. Sundays are for Church and Community. Mondays are for doing things that make me feel alive, like taking a dance class. Tuesdays are designated for helping Jeff at the Church. Wednesdays are for volunteering at a local Elementary School. Thursdays and Fridays are for blogging.
This does not mean that I don't do any blog tasks or church tasks on any other days. Rather, having set days to really focus on the things I want to move forward in those spheres, gives me freedom to do the things I really want to do without feeling guilty that I'm not getting other things done.
This weekly routine helps keep me accountable to my big goals and when I look back on the previous month, I'm often amazed at the progress I've made.
Getting Big Events Done
When it comes to planning big events, I could write an entire post in itself, but the short of it is, I always start with the vision.
For example, over the years I have thrown epic birthday parties for my son, you can see here, here, here and here. Each time, I’ve started with settling on a theme for the party. Then finding inspiration points to bring the theme to life from the invitations to the decorations to the party favors to the games and down to the cake. Once I have a theme in mind, I put all my ideas into a master excel document and set timelines for when I need to accomplish each detail to get it all done in time for the party.
I use the same process for every event that I plan, whether it be a carnival or Christmas event for 200, birthday party for 50, or community outreach for 13,000. Vision comes first. The details will follow.
My simple secret to getting things done is to not put off until tomorrow what I can do today.
That boils down to the following productivity strategies:
- Random thoughts: do them now, delegate them or write them down & schedule into your calendar.
- Daily tasks: Kill two birds with one stone.
- Life Goals: Set a weekly routine for your days
- Big Events: Start with the vision.
I hope this helps you to get things done this week.
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I'm Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.
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