Most of us think about doing a lot and accomplish little.
Much of it has to do with – not finishing things that we start.
I wrote about starting and finishing projects in detail many years ago and all of it is still valid advice.
Here are more ideas with a different perspective that have helped me move through small to-dos on tough days also in bigger projects.
It works for something as simple as writing a blog post, creating a client proposal, doing research on a big project like the idea for your app or new business, writing an investor pitch and also for personal goals like eating right or planning a holiday.
1. When you get stuck – Put it aside and come back later.
A good way to get new ideas about work you are doing or situation you are in – is to step away from it.
Come back to it later – preferably after sleeping over it. You will be able to look at it with a new perspective.
2. Collaborate, Delegate, Outsource.
This gives you a new pair of hands to take action and mind to think about the problem.
Collaboration is also good for staying motivated, because your work partner, co-founder, colleague can bring their unique talents to finish a task. This also gives you opportunity to brainstorm for new ideas.
While coding you can try pair programming, if you are stuck working alone.
The task need not be complex to use this. It can be as simple as writing an important email. You can write your version and send it to a trusted mentor or friend for feedback.
If you outsource a task, you will be free to focus on important stuff that you enjoy doing.
3. Divide it in Small Parts.
Do you want to write a book?
Many of us want to do it.
Problem is – it looks like a big, enormous task.
In reality it is not. A book is just 15-20 chapters or 200 pages – that can be finished at 250 words per day in 6-7 months.
Can you write 250 words per day? Chances are you can. You already write much more than that in single day’s email.
So breaking it in part helps.
4. Do not Make Big Promises.
When the times are tough or days when it seems that you can’t get anything done – do not expect big things out of yourself.
Just tell yourself that I will send 1 email today that I have been putting off. If it is for a personal dream or project – then tell yourself that you will book the ticket for that holiday you wanted to take – research on places to stay can wait.
Get that small things done and be happy about it.
(Don’t get me wrong – I am all for big dreams and hard work.) But there are times when that advice does not work. It is for those days and weeks.
Small success will motivate you to do more – and then you will get on a roll. Who knows you will get even more done that what you imagined.
5. Use Templates and Outlines.
Our brain does not like extra work and thinking. That is why we tend to procrastinate. We delay things like creating proposals, making pitches for new business – stuff that needs to be done but is not done.
To make it is easy, create a template.
A client proposal template can be – table of content, company details, projects details, project pricing and terms and conditions.
For investment pitches template can be – your offer, what is in for the company/person you are pitching it to, financial details, terms and conditions.
Reuse these templates after some customization.
This work for workouts also – a weekly template (flow) in consultation with your trainer. 4 days a week, activity/activities for each day. Don’t think, just do.
If you are a blogger – use a template… something like – Headline, opening paragraph, key points 1, 2, 3 and 4 (add more if you have something relevant to say), closing paragraph and call to action.
6. Work on Two Projects at once.
This is different from regular advice – which is to focus on one thing at a time.
If you are stuck with a project then pick up a different one.
Work on two projects at one go.
When you are short on ideas about one and you are not liking it much – then dive into another and run ahead.
Chances are.. your chaos with one project will help you create a solid flow in another.
Better pick two projects in different areas/with different themes. This is similar to Parallel Path method but on a more micro level.
And when you are inside (working on) any one of these projects apply the virtues of focus, working to a timeline – things that help you get things done.
7. Launch early, launch often.
This is lean method of doing projects.
Do not be too ambitious about your project.
The idea is not to ship poor, half baked projects – but do not spend a week editing a 20-page report.
Do not wait to launch your app – unless you have that perfect launch website ready.
Try these and tell me how they work for you.
PS: I really wanted to add – switch off email/browser and do the work – to this list of hacks. But that would be unfair given that I wrote this post online in a WYSWIG editor, searched for the picture above online and had more than 20 tabs open on my screen while I was working on this, so that is a topic for another post 🙂
PPS: Do you have any unique hacks of your own that you use to get things done? Please share in comments.