Tag Archives: planning

Getting things done – Accomplishing your goals

Someone said to me out of the blue the other day, You know, you really get things done.  You don’t need reminded. You’re so organized and you just quietly go about your business.  People can really rely on you.

This came as quite a surprise to me as I was just finishing up a job.  Hummm, I thought, this is what I do all the time.  I don’t know where this trait came from as my parents were never the kind who pushed me (although they were very organized, too.)  And I will readily admit, my getting things done trait doesn’t extend to every aspect of my life as my family can attest.  I can definitely walk past piles of books without a compulsion to straighten them up.

I think the attention to finishing tasks began way back in high school when I was yearbook editor.  How many kids are told, Here’s your $10,000 budget.  What are you going to do with it? Thanks to a great adviser, I learned how to plan, meet deadlines, make assignments, and finish the task on time.  These skills were a great help in college when I was juggling a full slate of classes while working part-time jobs.  And so it goes ever since.

Even in retirement, it seems I still rely on these skills.  Currently I’m working on a series of paintings which will total sixteen in all.  I’m halfway through.  This is where the push comes as my energy flags.  Or as this week when I’m gardening, planting pots, and tackling other outdoor projects.  Whatever it is, I just keep at it.

I’ve been thinking about the conversation mentioned at the beginning.  What does make some people better organized than others?  What follows is my short list.  Of course, people work differently so these may not apply to you, but maybe some of them will.

  1. Decide what your final destination will be. As the saying goes, if you don’t have a goal, then any path will get you there.  As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I make long-term goals at least to give myself direction.
  2. What is your short-term plan? What do you want to get accomplished this year, this month, this week, today?  I am an unapologetic list maker.  I get great pleasure crossing things off the list.  But I’m not compulsive about it.  I frequently do not get everything done that is on the list. That’s OK, but I got some things done.
  3. Break bigger tasks down to sections. This doesn’t have to be formally but it can be if the project is big enough.
  4. Set aside some time to do the project. Start early. Get something done – the outline for the report, the materials lined up, your tools ready, whatever.  Take away excuses.
  5. Set a timer if you really are avoiding the job. You know, cleaning the garage or the basement or your closet.  When the timer goes off, you’ll find that you’ve probably accomplished a lot more than you thought.  I find that I often am in the groove and reset the timer or keep carrying on.  But I know that I can quit if I want to without guilt.
  6. Tackle the hardest thing first. If I find myself procrastinating, then I usually know I’m avoiding something. Just doing the hardest thing first will often give me the momentum to carry on.
  7. Focus, forget multi-tasking. Just do one thing at a time and try to finish it, or at least part of it.  Jumping around only leads to distraction and doesn’t accomplish anything. Close your office door if you have to.
  8. Don’t be a perfectionist. Yeah, me.  As General Patton said, A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.. Sometimes it’s more important to get a job done, make a good start, than it is to vacillate and over-plan.  You can always fix it later.
  9. Set the project aside and come back and review it later. Mistakes will be glaring.

So these are just some of my little tricks for getting things done.  There are entire books and websites devoted to organizing your time.  Coaches, personal planners, all kinds of gimmicks and aids.  But you don’t really need all that.  You just need to get started.  What are your favorite ideas and tricks for getting things done?  I’d love to hear them.

Your One Thing

How are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions?  Already feeling a bit overwhelmed?  Maybe fell off the wagon already?  I’ll go on my diet when all these sweets are out of the house.  That big work project is hanging over my head; I can’t stop smoking now.  I promise that NEXT YEAR I’ll set up a budget for holiday shopping. Any of these sound familiar?  Or something similar, I’m sure.

I always get weird looks from people when I tell them that my favorite day of the year is New Years.  Not for the sports (although I live with someone to whom those are pretty important.)  No, it’s my favorite day of the year because it portends new beginnings, new opportunities, a fresh slate.  Possibilities!

Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at planning.  My job as Director of a performing and multi-discipline arts center required planning out eighteen months to two years.  I set up a spreadsheet with upcoming events and tasks in all the major areas: administrative, fund-raising, performing arts, visual arts, educational, special events, etc.

I would check the list every month, update as necessary, and set up my weekly schedule – also in categories.  Long term goals were guided by our five year plan and updated as needed.

When I retired a couple of years ago, I decided to put my energy back into painting.  I’ve been a professional artist since the early 80’s but had limited time to give when I was working full time (although I never gave it up, always managing to fit in 15 or so hours a week). Now that I didn’t have any excuses for not giving my best, what exactly did I envision for my next stage art career?

The first several months I floundered about.  I fooled around, did some art, but not with any real focus.  My question to self was, how do I apply everything I’ve learned and practiced for the past couple of decades in the arts business to my art business?

Then in December 2017, I picked up a book from the library that impressed me so much that I had to order my own copy.  I’m a business and marketing book junkie, btw, but I was really fired up by this book.  It is called The One Thing by Gary Keller.

The One Thing by Gary Keller

The main premise is to focus on one thing.  The focusing question is:

What’s the ONE THING I can do

such that by doing it

everything else will be made easier or unnecessary?

There is more in the book to help the reader find and focus on his/her One Thing, but that is the main premise.  The author has a number of free downloads on his website but I developed my own.

I usually focus on some personal goals as well as business goals, but inevitably I am too ambitious and can get overwhelmed.  Sound familiar to you?  Keller emphasizes setting up a set of goals which will cause a domino effect, i.e., do a small thing, which will lead to a bigger thing, until you finally get to your ONE BIG THING.  I set  weekly, monthly, one-year, five year, and someday goals, all revolving around my one big thing.

The goal I set for the year (which I’m not going to share specifically) revolved around creating and selling a certain amount of artwork.  This was one BHAG (big hairy a$$ goal) and beyond anything that I’ve achieved for a very long time.  It was a real stretch. The final result?  I created and sold more artwork last year than I have in any single year since I had a full-time job.  I came within $17 of my big, reach-for-the-stars goal.  Yay!  What a boost to my confidence.  And, all that creating has probably improved my work as well.

So, what’s up for this year?  Revised the plan from last year, tweaked a few things….and DOUBLED my goal!  Heck, why not?

What are your goals for the year?  What is your One Thing?   What one thing, such by doing it will help make everything else easier or unnecessary?

If you’re floundering and lack direction, or lack progress, I highly urge you to get this book by Keller.  Check it out of the library or snag a copy online.  With over 2,500 hundred reviews, you can’t go wrong.  As a caveat, I am not affiliated with Gary Keller or his organization in any way.  I just really like this book and think you might, too.

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Gary Keller’s website

My personal Word doc for goals  one big thing 2019 blank form