When you have a project that needs to get done, give it to a busy guy…
I get asked this one a lot…
“Mike, how do you get stuff done? You’re always so busy. When do you have time for -insert thing here…-”
Simple, folks. Three steps. Plan. Schedule. Execute.
- Figure out what tasks you need to complete. I learned in Steven Coveys “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” to not plan a day, but rather a week. So I arrange all the tasks I need to complete by weeks end on a little task section on my iPhone (sometimes double it up on my whiteboard in my kitchen so I walk past it every morning). I find this act of charting things down holds me more accountable, as it’s a great feeling to check things off that list!
- Throw tasks in the iCal! Or whatever calendar program you’re using. I know a lot of people like Google Calendar in order to share their days with coworkers, friends and family. This act of sharing and telling people what you’re up to not only helps them know where you are and what you’ve got going on, but public accountability to tasks helps you out as well! Imagine bailing on that workout, knowing full well your whole office might ask, “How’d the gym go…?” Not likely, eh? Not to say you need to put that in there, but for even the most seemingly minor tasks (such as “lunch”) will be accomplished if you take the time to schedule it. I find it most beneficial to schedule my most important and time sensitive tasks at the beginning of the day, at the beginning of the week so as to give myself the greatest opportunity to successfully complete them.
- Stay on track and be realistic to your completion rate! The whole purpose of scheduling things isn’t so that they always get done. It’s in order to build up the habit and show yourself that you’re completely capable of organization. So if you set aside 1 full hour Monday morning to burn through the 100 emails you got over the weekend and you only end up responding to 13 of them, know full well that’s a job well done. Re-prioritize the rest of them for the next email session! (That’s a tip I picked up from the X-Ambassadors frontman, Adam while I was chatting with him in Toronto over Canadian Music Week this past May… he says “if you put it in there, you’ll get it done, eventually. If you don’t plan for it, it’ll never get done…”) Good advice, for sure. Just execute as you can, and keep to the schedule as best as you can. It’ll take some time, so start easily with tasks you’re 100% confident in completing.
One last fundamental concept of this whole theory on getting stuff done kind of piggy-backs on my last point. Be confident in your ability to organize and execute. Don’t go setting daunting tasks if you can’t first complete the “easy stuff”. Don’t run before you walk, you know? Here’s my suggestion. Commit to drinking a glass of water with 1/4 squeezed lemon in it, first thing, every day! Easy, right? Great. Once you do that the confidence you’ll gain in your ability to complete tasks will improve and then you can commit to setting time aside to writing that book, hitting the gym to lose the 10 pounds and cutting the grass or cleaning the basement. It all starts with the habit, so get into the habit of making good habits and it’ll all come together nicely.
Remember, you don’t have to be a rock star to start, but you have to start in order to become that rock star. Stay sweet, folks!