Delaying action is such a waste of time.
It is also a problem that many people (myself included at times) deal with when trying to get something done at work or at home. You have a project of some sort and you know a number of things that you have to do to get the project done, but you end up spending way too much time thinking about doing things instead of actually doing them. Take that experience and multiply across all of the projects in your life and you are wasting a ton of time.
Once you start taking action, you are able to move the projects along and actually get something done. Everyone knows this, but we all still wait and think on it some more.
Here are three techniques I use to get myself in gear and ready to take action and get things done.
Capture all of the things you have to get done
We all have tons of things going on in our lives, and it can all get overwhelming. Just trying to keep track of those things that pop into your head at random moments or that come up in conversations you have throughout the day can be tough. You have to develop a system for getting those things out of your head and into a reliable place where you can come back to them.
This is one of the key tenets of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, and it is the thing from the book that has helped me the most. By getting those things out of my head, I can stop worrying about them and come back to them later to get them done.
Be consistent with whatever method you choose for capturing and keeping track of your to-dos. Some people like to write them down in a notebook and others like to use a note taking app on their phone. Regardless of the method, be consistent and you will see the benefits. The big benefit here is that you will free up you mind to focus on the task at hand.
If you aren't consistent with the method or the practice of capturing the items, you won't be able to trust it and will still end up expending your mental energy trying to keep track of everything.
Identify your most important to-do
As you are starting to get to work, take a look at all of the things on your list and ask yourself "What is the one thing you need to get done right now?" It might be the thing that you have been putting off for a while and it is probably not going to be the easiest thing on your to-do list. It should be the one item that will have the most impact, and that has to be done now to get you closer to one of your goals.
Don't fall into the trap of picking the thing that is easiest to do. The important stuff is usually challenging and will push you out of your comfort zone.
Also, make sure the item is actionable. If it isn't, then take a few minutes to break it down into actionable tasks and make the first task your priority. You don't want to try and tackle a whole project at a time. The first task is something that you can knock out, so hone in on that.
Take the leap...Don't be afraid
Now that you have identified the most important to-do, you have to get it done. There are all sorts of tactics that people use to get in the zone and get things done. A lot of people recommend doing things to get rid of distratctions so that you can focus. There are the typical techniques of shutting down email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. However, I don't think it is those distractions that are the real problem.
I think that in the end our ability to delay action comes down to fear.
- Being afraid that we will do something wrong and that other people will see it and think we are stupid.
- Being afraid that it won't end up being as impactful as we had hoped and it will end up having been a waste of time.
- Being afraid that we won't do it as well as someone else.
You will eventually deal with any of these fears or doubts because if the item is important it will have to get done. Don't let the item sit there for extra days or weeks just because you don't want to confront it.
Recognize those feelings when you have them. Acknowledge them and ask yourself "If all of those fears become reality, will it really be that big of a deal?" The answer is almost always no. Even if you fail miserably, it won't be the end of the world. Very few of us have jobs that are life or death. Worst case, you fail and get an opportunity to learn from your mistakes before taking a second try.
Now that you have acknowledged and moved past any fears or doubt, just get it done. And then use the same focus to take action and churn through the next important item on the list.
Did you like this article? Any other tips that work well for you? Please share in the comments below.