Here’s to Getting Things Done!

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We’ve all thought to ourselves, “why am I just sitting here, I need to be getting things done”, but then just continued sitting there. 
 
You probably could not decide on what to do, even though 1000 things kept coming to mind.  Every time you thought of something to do, another seemingly more important item would pop up.  You get paralyzed and decide to binge-watch The A-Team all day instead.
 
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, we have all been there.  All it takes is a little focus and some structure to get things moving in the right direction.  I have been working on my process for many years, streamlining it to work for me, hopefully, you can find it useful too.  
 
I like to use the analogy of taking a road trip.  You have a destination, a time window, a way to get there, a list of attractions to see along the way, and items to bring with you.  Let’s take a closer look and start with the strategy. 
Its a Goal
We have all heard it, you need to have goals, goals for your life, your career, and your relationships.  Well, it’s true, you do need to have goals, they’re the destination of your road trip, where you want to be.  Without a goal, you could be wasting time and energy on stuff that is not getting you anywhere, maybe even have you going in circles.
 
If you’re stuck trying to figure out what your goals should be, just take your dreams and break them down into manageable steps.  “But my dreams are my goals”, well look at it this way, dreams are a long-term target and goals are the smaller steps you take to get there. 
 
For example, if you dream to own your own business one day, then one of your goals could be to get an MBA degree or develop a product.  These are broad, fairly undefined steps that move you in the direction of your dreams.
Go ahead, grab a notebook or your computer and write down some goals that will move you forward.
A Journey of Objectives
Objectives are focused and measurable actions that are taken toward a goal.  They give you a clear understanding of the work that needs to be done and the time it takes to do them.  Objectives have structure, ideally a SMART structure.  
 
  • Specific – Focus your objective, the more narrow it is the easier it will be to plan the needed steps.
  • Measurable – Define what will determine how effective your progress is.
  • Attainable – Be sure you will be able to reach this objective, if you can’t, figure out why and make that your new objective.
  • Relevant – Make sure the objective aligns with your long-term target and goal.
  • Time-based – You need to have a deadline, without this they can not be prioritized properly.
Using the example above, to get your MBA, an objective could be:
  • To enroll and get accepted into a highly regarded school for business
  • Get information on 10 and enroll in 5 schools
  • Are my grades good enough, do I have money to pay for this, Yes
  • This is working toward my MBA
  • I will have 6 months to complete this
Objectives are the basis of your daily journey, the stops along the way during your road trip.

Now, write down an objective for one of your goals from earlier, go through the SMART process to see it works for you.

The Detail of Tactics
Now that we have our strategy laid out with our goals and objectives, it’s time to get into the details about getting things done.  When we talk about details this is going to be the execution plan for our objective.  In the road trip example, this is the driving directions and the luggage you pack for the trip.  
 
Sometimes I find it easier to start with what is needed then put them in order later.  So, start brainstorming, ask yourself some of these questions:
 
  • What items do I physically need?
  • What tasks need to be done?
  • Who do I need help from?
Now we need to put them in some sort of order.  It could be ordered by the easiest first or maybe by importance.  A lot of times, tasks have to be done in a particular order because they are dependent on each other, can’t make an omelet without buying eggs first.
 
Lastly, we should put deadlines on some of these things.  Having deadlines on some of the bigger items will give us mini objectives to look forward to and complete.
 
Remember, if what you tried did not work out as planned you can always change it.  Identify what went wrong, review what you did and what you can change then try again. 
Change your tactics first, it is much easier to change a tactic then it is to change your strategy, don’t get frustrated just approach it from a new direction.
 
Check out this article for some tips on the tools I use to get stuff done – Here’s to the Tools Used to Get Stuff Done
How do you getting things done?  Do you have any tips to share that you have found useful?

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