Getting Stuff Done

For whatever reason, the beginning of September has more of a “new year” feel to me than the beginning of January. Actually, I know the reason and it begins with four school age kids. :)

But regardless, I’ve been trying to focus for the last couple of weeks on execution and follow through. Trying to change just a little on how well I complete tasks, set priorities and just get stuff done. While I’m not going to suggest that any of what you’ll find below is original or mind-blowing, I believe that when it comes to self improvement, little steps are the way to go. So here is what I’ve been trying to improve, bit by bit.

Schedule it or forget it - We all live and die by our calendars. One of the joys of a smartphone is the ability to stay close to your schedule. I get a warm fuzzy knowing that I can quickly find out where I need to be next. And most of my unproductive moments are when things happen outside of this process. If you’re working on a team, make sure that you’re using a shared team calendar. Or at least, share your Outlook calendar so that others can see what you’re up to. Include team deadlines in this calendar. Put project update meetings (preferably regularly) into the calendar. Make them weekly to drive the pace of progress on the project

Prioritize to the nth degree - Do you have all the time you want to do everything that you want? No? Not surprisingly, you’re in the same boat as everyone else. So pick the stuff that matters and focus on that. If you choose to do only important tasks, you’ll find a couple of weird things happening. First, many of the non-important tasks will just take care of themselves. Second, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplish stuff during the day. And that’s a feeling worth cultivating.

Any decision is better than no decision – There is rarely an obviously best path to take. And even more rarely do we have all of the information that we need to choose that path. Reality is fuzzy. And there are times that testing and taking tentative steps is not possible. So just make the decision. A full-scale, all-in decision. Decisiveness is better than procrastination, because action leads to learning, which in turn creates better decisions. And if your on a team, it’s even more important. People are waiting to know where to go and what to do. The decision energizes the team and gets them moving towards their goal. 

Create new habits – While I was on vacation in August, I read a book on Habits. Habits of all kinds and by all people and organizations. Turns out that much of what we do over the course of the day is by habit. Just realizing how habits are formed and reinforced can help you chart a new course of action. By the way, the book is “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” and it’s well worth the read

These are just a start. But I made a decision, focused on small, but important steps and did what I thought was the most likely to see success. So far, so good.