How to get things done in your life correctly and on time?
The day always comes when you absolutely must get something done. You know the kind of thing I mean. Getting that proposal to a customer. Finishing the report the boss expects tomorrow. The bills coming due must be paid on time. These are the kinds of things that must get done now, not later.
How is it our productivity can suddenly spike at times? We get a burst of energy that helps us complete the task. This usually happens when you are about to go on vacation. You know you must get certain things done before you leave, and you will get them done. You always do somehow!
Think about it. What does each of these things have in common? I see three factors. One factor is that each is important, on the verge of becoming urgent. A second factor is each needs to be done. Otherwise, you may suffer unpleasant consequences. And thirdly, each has a deadline to be met. These three factors create a “get it done” environment.
“The secret of getting things done is to act!” Dante Alighieri
Get it done, or not?
The three factors for creating a high-productivity, “get-it-done” environment can be listed as:
- Important and urgent
- Unpleasant consequences
Now let’s contrast these must-do things with more routine activities. What you may need to do could be important, but it has less urgency around it. Few consequences, if any, arise if the activity is incomplete. Since it is not urgent, you believe you have plenty of time, so there is no reason to rush.
You can sum this lower-productivity environment list up as:
- Little or no urgency
- Inconsequential consequences
- Distant or no deadline
Do you see the clear pattern emerging here? When you have something to lose, you get it done. When you have little to lose, you say, “Eh, what’s the rush?”
“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” Henry Ford
If you want to speed things along, use the factors from the get-it-done environment. If you don’t care, be sure to include the three low-productivity factors.
“Get it done” tactics
To boost your productivity, all you need to do is take each of the three factors from the “get it done” environment and turn them into tactics. Whenever you put one of these tactics into play, things begin to happen. By incorporating all three of the tactics, you create a highly productive environment.
For example, take a current project that seems stalled and inject one of the three “Get it done” factors. Let’s say you want to write an article about something, and you have a couple of weeks to work on it. Inject one or more of the three tactics into your requirements for the article. You can increase the sense of urgency around it by thinking about how important it is to someone else, to you, or how enjoyable it can become.
You could consider the consequences of how it may benefit or hurt you. Or you can put a deadline on how much of the article you will have done each day or week until it is complete.
If you are in a management position and want to help an employee become more productive, inject one of the three factors into the project. If the project is large and complex and a long way off, create intermediate points to help them stay on track.
For example, if the project is not due for a month, create weekly check-ins regarding the progress made at each interval. Check-ins will help establish a sense of urgency to ensure the project moves along. If it is not moving along well, insert one of the other tactics such as a potential consequence if they fall behind schedule. You did give them a deadline for some portion of the work to be completed as well as a final deadline, didn’t you?
While this article is about work or the bigger things in life, the same tactics work in other situations as well. Try one or more of them on yourself with something you want to accomplish. It could be taking care of your health, exercising, or spending time with your spouse.
You may want to try them with your children, friends, or for anything else you want to get done or have someone else do.
A simple analogy to using the three tactics is: when you apply the tactics, it is like putting your foot on the gas. When you don’t use the tactics, you are putting your foot on the brakes. Which makes the most sense for that project you need to get done — putting your foot on the gas or the brakes?
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