A Sure-Fire Formula for Getting Things Done

List

There are a few REALLY IMPORTANT tasks that I’ve been procrastinating doing.

I’m thinking about them right now because I’m looking at my “To Do” list. And I’m noticing that INSTEAD of actually choosing to order MuseCubes supplies,  I’m actually choosing to WRITE ABOUT ordering them.

For whatever reason, writing about the-thing-I-should-do is WAY EASIER than actually doing the thing-I-should-do.

OK. Fine. So I’ll let myself write. Why? Because it’s fun. And because I also know that I learn while I write. So I’m hoping that as I reflect in this spontaneous way, I’ll actually figure out how to make myself actually DO the thing-I-should-do.

But the truth is: I already know how. All I need to do to follow through is (drum roll please!) answer the question:

“What the next smallest thing I can reasonably do?”

In regards to ordering the MuseCubes supplies, the next smallest thing I can reasonably do is to LOOK UP THE NAME of the place where I bought the packaging in the first place. (I’m sure I would have ordered the packaging weeks ago if I’d remembered the name of the online store where I originally bought them; kinda funny, the odd little barriers we create for ourselves).

Alright. So I give myself permission NOT to order the supplies. My first order of business is to simply  LOCATE THE NAME OF THE PLACE. Fine. Good. In fact, I’ll do that RIGHT NOW before I even type another word.

***Time passes. 11:55am – 12:18pm***

Phew! I did it. My little trick worked. Not only did I LOCATE the name of the company (I order my MuseCubes packaging at PaperMart), I ALSO:

  1. Ordered 500 boxes of the old variety of packaging
  2. Ordered 50 boxes of a new variety of packaging (for a new MuseCubes product I’m working on)
  3. Changed my shipping and billing addresses, which were outdated
  4. Organized my bookmarks so that I can easily find the PaperMart link again when I need it. No more excuses!!!

Ahhhhh. That feels good. Perhaps the secret to following through is to break down the task into smaller, easy incremental steps. There really is power behind the question: “Whats the next smallest thing I can reasonably do?”(See additional thoughts about incrementality here).

But to be totally honest, there’s another reason why I followed through just now. I wouldn’t have ordered the supplies if I hadn’t been writing about it (which is fun) and imagining my readers being impressed with me (which is about accountability).

Aha! I think I’ve just created a winning formula. Check this out:

incrementality + accountability + fun = getting things done!

Case in point: my 2010 New Years Resolution. I want to meditate more in 2010. But judging by my past experience, I just CAN’T seem to sit myself down and do it. So this year I asked myself the question “whats the smallest amount of time I’m willing to meditate every day?” The honest-to-god-answer: 5 minutes!!!

Gretchen’s Inner Critic Voice: Really, Gretchen?! That’s it? Five minutes is all you can muster? Wimp. (Ouch!)

Gretchen’s I’m-My-Own-Best-Friend Voice: Yup. 5 minutes. If that’s what you’ll reasonably do, then you go girl. Thanks for being so honest. 365 days of 5-minute meditations. I love it. And I love you! And I trust you to decide what’s right for you.  (Awwwwww!)

Cool. So far we’ve got the incrementality piece of the equation. But what about accountability and fun?

Calendar

Accountability: First of all, I bought a calendar that I love, attached a pencil to it, and hung it next to my kitchen window.

CalendarCloseUp

Fun: I like to draw, and spirals are pretty. So instead of writing “meditation” on the days I do it, I draw a spiral instead. Funny how much pleasure comes from such a small act!

Yet again:

incrementality + accountability + fun = getting things done!

I’m pretty sure that I’m setting myself up for great success with my goal to meditate for 5 minutes a day for 365 days. I’ll keep you updated on the blog (and if anyone else wants to join me in this task, the more the merrier).

In the meantime, what do you think about this formula? Do you think it might work for you the way it seems to be working for me?

3 thoughts to “A Sure-Fire Formula for Getting Things Done”

  1. @Katherine Glad you resonated with the piece! When we worked together last year, I had the incrementality + accountability piece. But I hadn’t added the fun, yet. Wonder what kind of “fun” you can add into your task list at work, huh?

    @Allyson What a GREAT idea for putting stuff away from a box. I love it!!! I’m the same way about doing things WITH other people…makes such a difference to have another warm body around.

  2. Self soothing brain waves are documented in Dahlai Lama (ok I can’t spell that maybe) brains recently (here in US, he flew here for the tests) and I’m glad you experience those.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *