What is the “It” that you need to get done?
“It” might be a cherished, long-term goal that you need to accomplish for yourself — for your own personal and/or career fulfillment.
Perhaps “it” is that book you want to write, or the business you long to build while you keep your current job.
Maybe it’s the weight loss; the exercise…
“It” can’t be done in a day, a week, or a month, because it builds slowly.
Even though facing “It” and taking steps toward working on “It” is quite scary and probably overwhelming, you might not even be experiencing fear or anxiety.
Rather, just when you think about sitting down and getting to work on your “It”, you may find yourself suddenly feeling the urge to clean out that drawer in the kitchen with all the loose twist ties. Oh, and you have to call Aunt Martha! (You really don’t call her enough, do you?)
Or maybe you should take a nap.
David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, suggests keeping an all-inclusive list, prioritizing each to-do, and then focusing on completing the most important items on your list.
But usually, the items that end up on your to-do list are those important but routine daily tasks: call the doctor, clean the kitchen, write the report due tomorrow.
Does the long-term goal so close to your heart go on today’s to-do list? The problem is, it doesn’t. “It” becomes the one thing that you will always do “tomorrow”.
But guess what? Now is the time to finish what you started – or to start finishing it!
“But how will I ever finish it, when I don’t even have time to hang up my clothes?”
I’m going to tackle the answer to the question of how you can get it done when you’re so dang busy; but I’m going to go at it a little at a time. First, I want to focus on one little myth that you must purge from your brain.
MYTH: You can’t work on something big and important in short work sessions.
TRUTH: Just 15 minutes a day can move you forward in a meaningful way!
Face it, if you’ve been procrastinating and not getting “It” done at all, then 15 minutes daily will get you an hour’s worth of work on this long-term goal after just 4 days. That’s better than nothing, right?
And the wonderful thing is that you can reduce your anxiety level and make real headway on your long-term goal, by breaking down this overwhelming goal into shorter work sessions.
And actually, research shows that tending to “It” daily gives you more than just accumulated time spent on the project. By tackling your project in this manner, your brain becomes more creative, more alive to the project, more excited, and consequently thinks about that wonderful “It” more often! When you return to something on a daily basis, it’s infinitely easier to finish what you start.
“But I’m working on something difficult/creative/artistic/time-consuming!” Trust me; it doesn’t matter! Try tackling it in short, daily sessions, and you’ll see that you do move forward.
“But if I start today, I’ll do a crappy job!” Good! The crappier the better. You’ll get better and can change it and fix it as you go.
“I’m not ready! I don’t know enough! I haven’t done enough research!” Look, you could research this thing to death and still not be ready. Just start doing something and the experience of showing up daily will increase productivity by miles in a shorter time span. You can fill in your knowledge gaps as you go.
How short is a short session of working on “It”? Short enough that you’ll do it! If you decide that you’ll spend 30 minutes on it, and you don’t, then make the allotted time shorter. Try 20. If you still don’t do it, then plan for 15 or even 10.
Get yourself started. That’s Step #1 towards getting “It” done.
Do you agree with the idea that you can do short sessions on your “It” and make useful progress? For many, it’s a new idea – what’s been your experience?
Great article. I love it!
Thank you, Edward! I haven’t talked to you in a long time, but it looks like your website is moving along and is quite professional. I liked reading the story of your life and how you got to where you are today. Keep up the good work!
Great tips here. I totally agree that working on any project for 15 minutes a day is a great way to make forward progress. I’ve written 8 books that way LOL
You also make an excellent point about writing a crappy first draft. Editors and proof readers can fix the grammar and structure if needed, but you are the only person who can create your ideas and commit them to paper.
Thanks for sharing these timely ideas.
It’s nice to hear a testimonial on how well the process of breaking into small chunks and doing just a little works. Eight Books! That is great, Lynne. And you are so correct that getting it out is what matters — those ideas don’t do anyone any favors stopped up in your head. Only you can deliver them to the universe.