Whether it is to stop a negative habit, carry out an assignment, deliver an immediate task or complete a lengthy project, getting things done, is always a challenge.
We often find ourselves trapped in the web of excuses, distractions and other things that crush our morale and leave us ruing the things we left undone.
I have highlighted in this article, 6 practical tips that could help you get ahead of yourself and get things done.
#1. Put Measures in Place to Help You Do What Must be Done
You can intentionally put yourself under some form of ‘yoke’ to make it almost impossible not to get something done. This could take the following forms:
- Get Someone to be Accountable to – It won’t be enough to get someone to be accountable to. You should also give such the power to take certain action, if you fall short of what needs to be done.
I once read about a young man who was feeling unmotivated at work and was performing poorly. He was also failing in a couple of personal things he had determined to do.
One day, he went to his boss and agreed to be submitting a periodic report to him of definite steps he took in accomplishing both work and personal goals.
Whenever, he failed to do this, the boss was to deduct a chunk of money from his pay.
Once he realized he could begin to lose so much cash, excuses couldn’t hold him back again!
- Create an Environment With Zero Tolerance for Excuses – Compelling conditions often help in accomplishing tasks.
As I became busier on campus, I figured I was sleeping too much to have time to study, pray and keep up with my commitments. I could no longer rely on the alarm alone.
So I pulled away my mattress and started sleeping on the thin carpet overlaying the floor.
In addition, I would eat little and take much water before going to bed. There was no way I was going to keep sleeping, with a buzzing alarm, full bladder, empty stomach and a discomforting surface!
- Get People to Alert You – We could get people to remind us of things we want to do at a given time. We could even assign them to different stages of what we want to do.
However, the effectiveness of this approach is tied to number. The more people we involve, the more likely it is, for this trick to work.
#2. Start With One Little Thing
When it comes to overwhelming projects, starting is always the problem. A way of escape would simply be to do just one thing first, from the project.
One may need to break down the task to its smallest elements, such that doing one thing feels like nothing at all. But even if one does not break it down, one could still do one random thing from any part of the project. From one job done, the energy for two comes; and then three, till the whole project is completed.
For instance, if I am to write a book, all I need to do is start with a sentence or a chapter title. From that point, moving on becomes easier.
#3. Have Schedules and Retreats
One principle that shows up around us every day is that we can get things done by having our lives well scheduled. In our churches, we have dates, days, time and duration for virtually everything. If this was not in place, running the church would have been problematic.
It is the same with businesses, corporate organizations and governments. There are office hours and non-office hours. Time for recess, management meetings, staff development sessions and so on are all well outlined.
There are no two ways to it. To achieve more, we need to have schedules that we try to stick to. We need to have schedules for the year, the month, the week and each day.
Schedules often have three elements namely, time, duration and frequency. For instance when do I go to bed and how long do I stay in bed.
Do I want to be having personal workouts every month? When in the month, what day of the week and at what time do I want it to hold? What will be the duration of the workout? These are pertinent questions for drawing up schedules.
If schedules have helped organizations to run effectively, we should also plan and schedule different areas of our lives including basic things like bed time and social media.
Furthermore, taking a break to get things done could be necessary at times.
International bestselling author and speaker, John Mason once wrote about how he took a retreat to write the book, An Enemy Called Average. A student could excuse his/herself from all commitments to have a weeklong academic retreat in order to catch up with schoolwork.
Having a retreat shouldn’t be difficult. People are likely to understand when you tell them you need some time to be alone.
#4. Free Up More Time
When we have more time to do things, we may find it easier to overcome excuses and inertia to get things done. Here are some ways to save more time:
- Be Orderly – Keeping our stuff and spaces organized, saves us precious time spent on re-arranging or searching for items. It helps if we always put things back where they were originally, after use.
- Delegate and Divide Labour – When we delegate, not only do we free up time for ourselves to get some things done; we also get people to help us accomplish things. Truly, there are things that others cannot do for us, but there are a lot more that they can help us with.
- Multitask Smartly – One thing to keep in mind when multitasking is to never combine tasks with equal or close mental demands. You can be cleaning the house and at the same time, learning a song via your ear piece. But you can’t be reading a book and learning a song simultaneously.
So, it’s more effective to combine mentally-demanding tasks with less-mentally demanding ( or non-mentally demanding ones).
Another way to multitask effectively is by setting up a longer process, while using the intermediate period to attend to shorter tasks.
- Have Backups – Getting things done, requires that what we have acquired or done previously does not pull us back because it got lost or damaged. Losing things we have laboured on can be demoralizing and time wasting; and can constitute a mountain of excuse why some other things are not done.
- Be Quick With Routines – We do a lot of routine stuff daily. We are so used to some of them that we could do them with little or no attention. We should learn not to spend too much time on such.
- Use Breaks – Some times, things do not go as planned. There may be delays and waiting periods. For instance, when you have to wait for an official in the lobby or when stuck in a traffic jam you didn’t plan for. We should keep some things we need to get done as alternatives when such happens.
In spite of how busy we are today, we still find some little breaks in our schedules. We can get more done, if we become more deliberate about those short moments and use them creatively.
#5. Act When Prompted
When you are prompted to do something, learn to act immediately. Make sure you do at least a thing in response to the prompt – no matter how insignificant that seems.
As soon as a thought on something to write pops up, pen it down. You can come back later to develop it. When someone requests for your prayers, do not wait until you find a convenient time, utter some words instantly. Pray in your heart, pray under your breath – just say a word in response.
#6. Assign or Think of Reward and Consequences
We can initiate and sustain motivation to do anything, if we think of the beautiful reward that comes with doing such or the grave consequences that may ensue if we do not.
Furthermore, one could personally, assign a reward to the successful completion of a task. Having something to look forward to often drives us to get things done.
Getting things done brings along fulfilment and progress. Hopefully, these pointers help us achieve that.
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Ogaga Eruteya is a Nigerian Christian minister, writer and speaker. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. With his words, he seeks to inspire, motivate, propagate life’s truths and represent a sincere Christian voice. Learn more about Ogaga here.