We’re in the middle of summer and it often seems a little more difficult to get going on things, so I thought I’d put forward a few tips.
In my business, I often encounter people who have difficulty getting started or completing important projects. Some people are naturally more organized than others, but everyone can learn some basic tools to help get things done. Here’s a few ideas that I have found to be very helpful.
Write things down: Things that are written down are far more likely to be completed. Even the act of writing them down helps us think them through. First, write down your key goals, then write down all the things that need to be done to complete the goals. When things are vague, we can never get started on them. Physical writing seems to work best for many people since it somehow activates the brain in a different way than on the computer.
The Swiss Cheese Approach: Divide goals and projects into smaller bites: People often become discouraged and intimidated when they look at a huge project. Then they continue to proacrastinate and the project becomes even more ominous as deadlines approach. Pick smaller parts of the project to start on, and then see some accomplishment, and this sense of accomplishment encourages you to do more. With the Swiss Cheese approach, it is like creating “holes” in the project to reduce the total size.
Start the day with task that you most dread: This is a very powerful psychological tool. We get a significant lift from accomplishing these difficult tasks and the rest of the day usually is full of energy. Contrast this with the opposite where we put off the dreaded task. However, we keep thinking about it and it drains our energy all day as the dread and anxiety builds up. Then people often end up doing something late in the day that is not their best work since they are tired and anxious.
Watch out for technology time wasters: A key principle here is that e-mails and social media will expand to fit whatever amount of time that you allow them, thus taking you away from more important things. People often get caught in the trap of thinking that the faster they respond to e-mails or other online communication, the more efficient they will appear to others. The fact is that when you respond quickly, you get more questions back more quickly and the cycle just speeds up, creating more e-mails. Set expectations for others that you will respond within 24 or 48 hours and then check only a couple of times a day. You can then select emergency items and respond to them sooner if necessary. Then set aside a specific time to respond to the others. Turn off your e-mail notification when you are working on other things so that you will not be distracted every time you receive an e-mail.
“Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy has some great tips on moving forward with both personal and professional goals and is written in a clear, concise style that is easy to read. ” http://www.amazon.com/Eat-That-Frog-Great-Procrastinating/dp/1576754227