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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Genesis Series (3): Getting stuff done

If I am pinned down, I would have to say that I am not a big fan of to-do lists, but I still make them all the time. I am not a fan because I never get all the stuff done, except perhaps my grocery list.

So, I am challenging myself...and of course you, to do a better job in this area; a better job at getting all the important things done.

For our Biblical referance of course we have God...Who created everything in 6 days, and got a day off. 

One would think that I (we) should certainly be able to write down a few things to get done in a day…and actually do them. But, in order for me to make a change, I have to honestly (and painfully) figure out what I’ve done wrong in the past. The to-do lists of the past have been:

  • Too long

  • No deadlines...or should I say, no end in sight..Arghhhh!

  • Mixture of long-range and short-term goals, hard to find a focus and a handle

  • No organization

  • Always looks overwhelming

I am sure you'd have a few things to add. What items have I left out?

I have tried several of those integrated systems, like Franklin and Steven Covey, etc. I’m am ecstatic if they have work for you. I  have tried and then have abandoned each in turn. But there is some benefit to my friends, because I pass the material on to someone else who I looks like they need to be more organized. ;) 

I read many blogs, and I have been fortunate in that I have finally stumbled across a "place" to store all my Internet stuff, Evernote, at www.evernote.com. You know, all those pithy sayings, and well-written articles that offer insight into how to do _____________ (whatever) better, some new recipe, some cartoon that you are not quite ready to pass on, awesome videos, etc. Pretty much whatever you can pull up on the Internet, can be saved in Evernote. No, I don't get any kind of commission. This system works well, and cuts down on wasted papers (which, if truth be told, I can't find later when I need them, anyway). So, I suggest that you try it. It comes in a free and a premium version. That will take care of some of the paper, and keep you from setting your house on fire with candles or incense.

Back to the lists....
There are many good reasons to make them, and curiously, these are linked to the reasons I don't do well with them:

  • They should keep us from feeling overwhelmed

  • Help get the right things done; doing the important things first

  • Avoid wasting valuable time on things that are unimportant, and don't really need to get done, or at least don't require our attention (make sense?)
So, what lessons can we learn from doing wrong so many times? 

There are decisions that I need to make before the list is made:
  • What is the timeframe of my list? One day, one week?

  • I need to think in broad strokes-
    • What am I ultimately trying to accomplish? Where am I trying to get?
    • Accept that I cannot get it all done at once.

  • What steps do I need to take?
    • In what order? We serve a God of order. Think about it...It would not have made a great deal of sense to create people before there was breathable and sustainable atmosphere.

  • Once I have written this down, what is my first actionable step?

  • Complete each task before I move on.
    • The small steps in the beginning can have major consequences in the end.

  • Review the list the next day (or week)
    • What didn’t get done that needs to go on the new list?
    • If it keeps showing up, I need to examine why I am stuck here.
    • Do I need to get help?
    • Am I overextended?
    • Do I just need a different approach?

  • Is there a meeting in the week’s mix?
    • What do I need to get done for this, and when?

  • Make a fresh list…yes, write it all out again...and get it done!


One of the blogs authors that I read frequently is Michael Hyatt. He is was the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing House. He is an awesome speaker and interested in all things related to leadership. In a recent blog of his (http://tinyurl.com/63lcpcq) , he mentioned batching as a way to get things done while referring to a method called Pomodoro. Sounds like a piece of fruit, doesn't it? It is! It's Italian for tomato. Yes, tomoato is a fruit.

Anyway, being the bottom line thinker that I am, it seems to boil down to being able to sustain your activity and attention-span on a focused area for 25 minutes at a time. There is a whole system of lists, and ways to tweak the method, but best of all...they offer free stuff at their website, http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/ . Did I mention that there was free stuff?

And, no, I don't get any commission or props from Michael Hyatt or Pomodoro. If you go to the site, you can download the book for free (unless you just can't live without the facncy hard-cover). Did I mention it was free?

I feel that part of my mission, mandate and task is to expose you guys, the readers, to things that may help you get better at being and doing you. Things that you, that you may not necessarily stumble across on your own...Using The Word as our guide, as our backdrop, to help us set our boundaries.

This is what I'm going to try for now...the Pomodoro Technique.

What system are you using to keep on track?

I'd be interested in hearing, and I am open to suggestions...I'll try (almost) anything once.

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