Four Ways to Get Sh*t Done (GSD)
Sucked into the black hole of Facebook. Searching YouTube for the perfect clip. Binge watching Ozark and Manhunt on Netflix. Creating social media posts on Canva. Searching #CluesAreEverywhere on Twitter. Printing 52 articles on strategic thinking. Downloading quotes from Pinterest. Reading twenty blog posts on how to write a book. Checking out the latest SnapChat filters. Advancing levels on Candy Crush.
These are ‘squirrels’ that grab our attention and suck us in when we should be running them over! We finally look up to take a breath and POOF! two hours are gone.
And then we feel like we didn’t get anything done.
And then the voice in our head tells us we’re worthless and we’ll never reach our goal.
And then we believe it and go back to meaningless tasks.
Spiral down… down… down…
Sometimes it’s just easier to do the mindless stuff than the stuff that matters.
Writing a blog post. Scheduling coaching sessions. Talking with potential clients. Finishing that project. Creating that workshop. Pitching those gigs. Writing another chapter. Designing a marketing email. Attending a networking event. Recording a podcast. These are all the things that matter most.
Aren’t you tired of doing the things that don’t move you any closer to your goal?
Yeah… me too.
Hey... it's not too late to turn this spiral into what I call a 'GSD moment'. Here are four things you can start doing this week to minimize distractions and get sh*t done:
1. Block time on your calendar.
I’m a big believer in Timeblocking because it’s a proven method to being more productive. However, it’s a lot easier to color code a calendar in 30-minute increments than it is follow it. For Timeblocking to work, saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to the right tasks and doing them at the allotted time is most important. It will take focus, discipline, bravery, and a lot of practice! It’s about intentionally doing what needs to be done, when it’s scheduled to be done (even when you don’t feel like doing it) to get the result you know you want.
A few things I’ve blocked time for on my calendar:
- Strategic planning every Monday morning
- Writing an article every Monday afternoon
- Marketing and business development on Tuesday
- Creating speeches and content on Wednesday
- Meeting with coaching clients on Thursday
What are five important things you need to fit into your week? When will you carve out specific time to focus on these things? Heck… you might even create appointments for yourself within your calendar to make sure no one schedules something during your blocked time. (This is a whole other topic of setting expectations when other people have access to your calendar!) But if you’re going to GSD, you need to protect your time or people will fill your schedule.
I have a great tool to help you block your time. It's a simple excel spreadsheet where you can outline what your ideal week looks like. You'll notice how I've structured my ideal week and there's a blank spreadsheet for you to do the same. If you want, feel free to email it to me when you're done and we'll talk about it.
2. Prioritize your to-do list.
Sounds like a no-brainer, huh? It’s not! I’m sure that you’ve felt overwhelmed trying to get to every last thing on your to-do list. Just this week I felt like I was drowning in tasks, not knowing what to do next. The result? I didn’t do anything! I realized I needed to do a major overhaul on what was most important.
Try this… grab a stack of post-it notes and write one thing you need to do, big or small, on each note. Get them all up on a wall or on the floor where you can see them and start figuring out which tasks are the most important. Then ask ‘what tasks will move me closer to my goal?’ Start with those first and let the less important tasks fall in line.
Prioritizing your top six tasks every day will allow you to GSD. The $25,000 idea is to then work on the most important task until it’s completed. Then, and only then, do you move onto the second task and, so on. It’s a practice I’ve gotten away from and realize I’m more productive when I follow this system. Talk about focus and discipline!
“What matters most must never be at the mercy of what matters least.” ~Goethe
3. Set the timer.
I love to consume information. When I research a topic, I read every article, book, commentary, white paper, and blog post that I can get my hands on. My greatest strength of gathering information has become my greatest weakness and I have to fight it like an addiction.
My coach, Lex, suggested I set a timer. I imagine it’ll be like Top Chef where when the timer goes off; I’ll drop whatever I’m doing and move on. Task done or not… it makes me a little nervous.
I’ve decided to experiment with the Pomodoro Technique and setting a timer for 25 minutes. The practice is focusing for 25 minutes, taking a 5-minute break, and making a tally mark beside the task you work for that block of time. My plan is to evaluate what still needs to be accomplished at the end of that first block of time and hit it hard for another 25 minutes if need be. The timer going off will force me to gauge the direction I’ve taken my research and help me determine if I’m staying on track or not. Every 25 minutes, I have the opportunity to adjust my expectations or adjust my task.
What technique do you use to keep you on track? If you don’t have one, feel free to use this one! I’ll let you know how it turns out.
4. Leave white space.
All work and no play makes Jane a dull, overworked, anti-social, highly stressed, exhausted, burned out, no-good-to-anybody, guilt-ridden girl. While you’re scheduling your work time allow for white space. There must be white space, or margin, in your life where you aren’t scheduled for every minute of the day. This allows for the unexpected as well as play time.
In his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard Swenson describes margin as “the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.”
White space doesn’t just happen. We must plan for it and fight for it so put it on your calendar just like you would a meeting or appointment. While you’re at it, schedule time to indulge in your distractions or have downtime. You won’t feel the need to conquer the next Candy Crush level in the moment because you’ve allowed yourself 15 minutes right after supper.
I'm right here with you on this one... working with focus and discipline to GSD this week. Come on over to the Facebook page and let me know how it's going!