The Guide to Getting Things Done

We’d all like to get more done. The tough part is that it’s not always such a straightforward process. There are things that we want and in order to have or achieve those things we need to put in some sort of action. Having a framework to break down our goals and analyze how they are coming along makes the process much easier and at least somewhat manifested. In keeping a few things in mind while creating goals and setting out to do them, we can increase our chances of them actually getting done.

Establish Goals

The goal itself is the first part of the process. Think of how your goal fits itself within your life as a whole. Sometimes there are things that we don’t necessarily want to do. For me it’s laundry. It’s boring and I don’t like having to fold clothes. However, it’s an important part of having a meaningful and healthy existence in society. Laundry therefore becomes a subset of the larger goal of being presentable and social. This gives the idea of doing laundry meaning within the higher scope of your life as a whole. Pick goals that will actually make your life better and that have value. Think of goals that are within different time spans. Have a clear picture of how they interplay with each other and within your life as a whole.

Break Down Goals

Look at the goals you’ve made and break them down into actionable things that you can reasonably accomplish. For my laundry example, that would be collecting dirty clothes, putting them in the washer, moving them into the dryer, and then folding them. How often should this be done? I’d say once a week. I now have a goal that represents something meaningful within the context of my life and I now have steps that I can take that allow me to reach that goal. Break steps down into measurable components that can be concretely observed. If they aren’t getting completed think of breaking them down further and see where the sticking points are.

Look at Progress and Action

Check in on the established goals and the steps that should be made to complete them. Do they still have value? Are the things getting done? Is there something that should be modified, removed, or added? What’s going well? What isn’t working? Poke at the goals and actionable items from every angle. Be sure not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when looking at these items. It can be easy to blame the goals or steps as unreasonable or unfocused when the broken component in the machine is yourself. It’s often helpful to include the time that each step will take.

Create Rewards

Rewards are being mentioned last but they are within every part of the process. Remember that the whole point of setting goals and completing them is for some sort of reward. If your goals do not do this, check if you are being inaccurate in your assessment or if your goals are meaningless. If you’re being unreasonable then you can fix that. If your goals are meaningless, (in the sense that they don’t provide a valuable reward) get new goals that are. An important thing to remember is that goals do not always provide themselves as being near completion. Having a checklist of actionable items allows you to look at if you are completing necessary steps. Establishing an inventory of completed tasks can be the information that convinces you that you are actually making progress.

Something else to consider would be to set up rewards for yourself along the way. Have a party or get your nails done. Whatever makes you feel good but doesn’t deter you from going after your goal. Treat yourself and make the journey as worth it as possible.

The most important part of the process is to figure out what works for you. It is strongly recommended to have a framework however. With nothing to measure against it becomes difficult to see how you are doing, let alone where you are even going. Create a framework and do everything you can to get it done.

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