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how to get things done
What I’m talking about here are the really difficult things, the more complicated things, and the really important stuff that you want to get done, but that just keeps getting left, and left, and left, as you carry on with all the day to day stuff that just has to be done – today.
And its not your fault, it can be such a challenge because our brains have something called ‘present-bias’ – it actually prefers dealing with and ticking off ‘easy-wins’, rather than going anywhere near longer term, often more complicated yet important thinking and work. So to help you overcome this natural tendency, here are my top three tips:
Tip #1 Commit.
What I’m talking about here is making that internal commitment to this one important thing. I filmed my accompanying video while taking time out and travelling up to my boyfriend’s house – so that I could spend an entire week writing my book. Doing this, taking that whole week and doing nothing else (apart from thinking it would be good to share and make a video about it), took a lot of internal commitment.
So what will help you make the commitment to spend your time energy and focus on this one important (yet difficult or complicated) thing? For some people what helps is focusing on the question:
“Where will I be in five years time if I don’t do this now?”
For others it’s focusing on the vision of how things will look when they have achieved this. For me and my clients I find a combined approach is most effective.
So just for a moment think about the one thing you have been putting off, the one thing that if you did spend time and energy on it, would make a huge change to your life.
For me at the moment, it’s writing my book. For you, it may be another big project, or it may be a dream project like writing your own book, or doing that big planned adventure of a lifetime, or changing your career. It takes a lot of energy, effort, time and space to focus on something, something more difficult, complicated outside of the everyday.
Then once you’ve asked yourself the above question, and maybe spent ten minutes just sitting imagining the outcomes, make that commitment internally, and if it’s really helpful to you, make the commitment externally.
This is where declaring it to the world on social media is really helpful, or finding a buddy, someone else who wants to do something big or the same thing, like a fitness regime or losing weight, or whatever it is you want to do. Declare it. And, another thing that I do, is write down that goal and stick it up on my desk in front of me. I also have my vision board up above my desk.
It’s important to have all of this out in view – somewhere you’re going to look at it every day (a very helpful reminder when the going gets tough or is just a bit of a slog).
And as the self-help author Napolean Hill once said:
“The moment you commit and quit holding back, all sorts of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance will rise up to help you. The simple act of commitment is a powerful magnet for help”.
Sounds a bit woo-woo I know but I have seen this consistently played out both for me and my clients over the past decade. So that’s it. Number one, commit, and see what starts showing up to help you out.
Tip #2 Calendarise.
In order for you to do this one big difficult project, it’s really key that you put it in your calendar, or your diary. So for example, for the week I set aside to write my book, I put it in my calendar three months ago, during a week that I knew my daughter would be going away with her dad on holiday. I knew that during this week I’d have longer days available, no school runs etc, and could commit to a full five days of writing. I then blocked this week out so that I couldn’t;t put in any client sessions, any meetings, or any other distractions.
And obviously it doesn’t have to be a whole week, it can be two hours a morning, 30 minutes a morning, or it can be an afternoon a week. For example I have also been writing my book in stages and as well as this one week have previously blocked out Tuesdays as my writing days.
So whatever it is you want to do, and whatever time slots you can carve out to give it your undivided focus and attention – block it out in your calendar. Protect that time with your life, because your life or at least the kind of life you really want to be living, may actually depend on it.
Tip #3 Clear the decks.
This is about doing literally that. Getting rid of any other distractions for that period of time that you’re committing to this one big, difficult, complicated thing in your life.
Again my example, when filming my video, I was sat down at a desk my boyfriend Ben had set up for me in his lounge. I’d cleared all out all of my appointments. I set the timer on my phone (for 90 minutes a time), but I then put my phone in a different part of the room (to avoid message and social media distractions – its the only way for me).
I also only check emails briefly at the beginning of the day, and then again at the end of the day to reply to any that need it. I also stop taking any phone calls or replying to any messages etc – ensuring I’m not doing anything else during this time. This is because any time your brain has to jump from one thing to another, it uses up valuable energy, you completely lose focus, and it takes both time and energy to regain that focus and attention. So for these blocks of time make it easy on your brain and save all of the energy you will need for this one big difficult task at hand.
So that’s it, my Three C’s on how to get the really difficult complicated things of life done.
Please let me know in the comments below how you get along with this. Thanks for watching, and plesae do share with anyone who you think could use this.
ps. while you’re at it, enjoy the ride. Take nice breaks. (I take breaks after 90 minutes) Put your feet up, have a cup of tea, go and have a walk around the garden, speak to a friend, whatever it is, try and enjoy it as well.
Otherwise, what is the point of it all?
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There is no such thing as perfect.
If you keep going for perfection you will never be content.