What’s the secret to Getting Stuff Done?

The first step is not to conflate being busy, with being productive. Being busy is all about appearances, and focusing on how much time we’re spending on our efforts. But being productive is solely about performance. Results.

The key to being consistently productive is to establish good work behaviours. I recommend the following:

  • Planning: Never start a task or project until you completely understand your deliverables. This seems entirely self-evident – that is, until you have to redo work because you didn’t understand all the requirements, or you misunderstood your assignment.
  • Measurement: Agree upon milestones and metrics before starting work. Understand what “being successful” actually means for your project. How do you know if you’re making progress, if you can’t quantify what you’re doing, how far you’ve come, or how far you have to go? You can’t understand, what you can’t measure.
  • Collaboration: If you have a question about your project, ask. When projects begin to lag, team members not understanding their assignments are usually high on my list of things to investigate. This is especially true for younger workers – they often don’t seek out help, or know when to seek outside help.
  • Reflection: Set periodic breakpoints, to stop and ask yourself “am I working on the right problem?” If you’re not, stop what you’re doing, refocus, and begin again.
  • Communication: My number one secret for successfully Getting Stuff Done, the first time ’round? Communicate, communicate, communicate. Did I mention that you need to communicate?

So: Plan ahead. Measure your work. Collaborate with others. Constantly and continuously reflect upon what you’re doing. Communicate. These foundational work behaviours will give you more than a fighting chance at escaping the “Culture of Busy”, and allow you to finally Get Stuff Done.

Go, and be you.


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