There is an infinite number of blogs, books, and other content that tell you how to get stuff done. Many people read so much about it that they end up without the time to actually do things. Because of that, I don’t think anyone has ever put it as well and concise as Nike: “Just Do It”
It sounds simple and direct. But what if you don’t know how to just do it?
1) Just Figure it Out:
Some people don’t even know where to start. As a result, they don’t do anything at all. I’ve found that the best way to do that is on paper. Note: When I say on paper, I really mean write it out. You can do it on a computer screen, a white board, an old fashioned pad of paper or whatever your preference.
As an unrepentant project manager, I like to write a list of all of the major activities and then break them down even more into tasks. Then I prioritize those tasks and sequence them out until I have a complete plan of attack. I know what to do and when to do it.
But, you may ask, what do I do if I don’t know the tasks? What if I don’t even know where to start?
Maybe you could start at the end. What is your desired outcome? Then work backwards from there. Determine how you can get to that end state. Break that down and develop a work plan from there.
Another alternative is to list several different options as a starting point. For each option, list all of the pros and cons you can think of. If you want to get even more scientific, you could list the likelihood of each pro and each con to determine the best option.
Make Google your friend. You can enter “How to <insert your challenge>” and find out how to do just about anything. You will most likely find a lot of options to choose from.
From that analysis, choose one and give it a try. You may find out that it was the wrong choice. If so, try the next best option. Failure can be your friend. To paraphrase Thomas Edison, you didn’t fail. You just found a way that it won’t work.
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2) Just Execute It
When some people list out all of the tasks, they take a look at it and get overwhelmed. Chip away at it slowly. Find 10-15 minute tasks to do during small snippets of time.
Create some momentum. Estimate every task on your list. Mark each one off as you accomplish it. When you have marked off several, look back and remind yourself of how much you’ve accomplished.
Make the project a priority. Mark off a few tasks every day. Don’t let the urgent issues of the day take over what is really important.
Remove distractions. When you work on your tasks, avoid checking emails, social media, cat videos, and anything else you may be tempted to do to distract you from your task. Instead, decide to reward yourself with 5-10 minutes of those activities after you accomplish a certain number of tasks. That will give you the incentive to accomplish the tasks.
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3) Just Finish It
There is an old saying that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. But the second best time to plant one is today. You may feel like you’ve procrastinated your task for too long. Many people don’t want to go out on a limb for fear of failure.
Whether it’s that epic novel you wrote that is sitting on your hard drive or some other project that you’ve completed but are just waiting for the right time to “go public” with it. Just put it out there. The embarrassment of failure is much less than that inner feeling of failure from not giving it a try.
Seth Godin calls it “Ship.” Ship it and get it out there for all to see. Expect criticism and accept it.
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There is no perfect time to do something, so don’t wait for it. Just do it.
What task have you been putting off doing?
I welcome your questions and comments.