Get Things Done: Stop Wishing, Start Achieving

I think every single person who has attended a planning session through work, taken a self development course, or read a book on goals has heard about SMART goals.

  • SMART goals are, well, smart, but setting them doesn’t mean you’ll do them.

For the next few Mondays, I am going to write about how to get the goal done.

When I haven’t seen someone for a long time, they are usually impressed by the amount of things I have accomplished and what I do in a day. Oftentimes, they ask in amazement, ‘How do you do it? How do you get it all done?’.

In actually, it isn’t that amazing, it is really quite ordinary.

Goal euphoria.

Before I figured out how to get something done, I would dream big, think crazy thoughts, write them down, and then put things into motion in an excited, unfocussed manner..

…then three days later would happen.

Stress, lack of clarity, and confusion settled over me like a fog. My task list had somehow quadrupled in size overnight, the email inbox was piling up, and all my goals and ambitions were tossed out the window.

  • Apparently people need to eat and clean underwear is more than just a ‘nice to have‘.

The cycle of ridiculousness continued.

Every time I started something new, my excitement would take over and I would stay up until the wee hours of the night ‘being productive’ and making my dreams come true.

A woman cannot live on caffeine alone.

For a long time, I lived in the chaos I thought everyone lived under and stopped dreaming and setting goals. The stress was just not worth it. The only redeeming thing from that season of my life is the amount of trees I rescued from death by not making copious amounts of lists.

One day I figured it out, or more accurately, I finally read a book and did what it said.

Getting Things Done.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

This is not a super exciting book. In fact, if you don’t want to do the work David Allen lays out to start clearing your brain and creating space in your life; don’t read the book.

I was fed up and desperately needed a change.

In my very ‘all or nothing‘ approach to life, I read the book and started implementing it the next day.

File folders, index cards, and sharpies were purchased and a boring, ordinary system was implemented.

DL early am desk

It is not very fancy, but it works wonders. And yes, I have a magic wand in my cup of pens. 😉

Every morning at 4:45, with a cup of coffee in hand, I can be found going through my daily file folder, writing out tasks on 3×5 cards, and planning my day.

My stress and anxiety has lessened and my accomplishments have grown.

A lot of ordinary creates extraordinary.

Successful people get things done. They aren’t perfect and they don’t always hit the mark, but they get things done to the best of their ability and keep going; tweaking along the way.

By creating structures and embracing the mundane disciplines of breaking up your goals and managing your system, freedom and capacity are created.

Along with DL approved snacks, I have 3×5 cards in my purse.

DL on the go

Into my purse it goes! All the new tasks get filed when I get home.

I can often be found writing an action item, something to look up, an email to send, or something else on a 3×5 card; I have no shame.

  • Want to do more in life?

Start by learning how to get what is currently in front of you done. Once you have that down, start adding in your dreams and goals.

Before you can run, you have to learn how to walk.

Doing one thing at a time gets you really far,

I promise.

Are you getting things done?


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  1. Too funny. Did Ken recommend this book to you? He just recommended it to me and I’m in the middle of it right now!

  2. Oh, I so needed to read this! I have a lot of room for improvement in the productivity department!

  3. I read that book a quite a few months ago (over winter?) and I loved it, however, I really didn’t go thru the work of setting up “folders”. My financial & personal records have been set up and organized for several years, so I thought that was just duplicating what I already had done. I just have an in-box over flowing with little notes, mail, etc. I LOVE your idea of using index cards to write reminders & to-do’s on. I’ve tried using the task list in google calendar due to that’s also on my phone, but it’s not working out too well….too easy to ignore. All uniform in size. I’m going to tackle that in-box tomorrow! This post motivated me to actually start at the top and work my way down instead of digging out something that I actually need right at the moment. Thanks!

    • I love making to do lists, but I find nothing ever gets done. Having an index card with one task on it makes my life much easier. MUCH easier. Whenever I make a task list, I transfer it over to the cards and file it away into my system because it makes it do-able.

  4. I need this! Great post!

  5. Something tells me you and I would get along just great 😉 I am *obsessed* with making to-do lists and writing everything down. People are always marvelling at how much I get done in a single day, but I think it’s because I just work through my list (and avoid social media! haha). I was actually famous for index cards back in high school because I studied with them…. I know you’re probably thinking flash cards, but no. I basically wrote out all my textbooks in tiny print on these cards and then memorised them. Everyone thought I was nuts, but it’s how I got such good marks!

    My only problem is that I hate having things left on my to-do list at the end of the day. I stress myself out far more than necessary, so I’m trying to teach myself that it’s okay not to accomplish the world in a single day.

    • Yup. I always want to accomplish the world every single day. I oftentimes stress out because I need to get so much done…but in actuality I don’t. 😀

  6. I get things done, but I can get stuck in the minutae of “doing” and not take a step back and see where this is leading me, and whether this is where I want to go. I’m fortunate in that I have my fiancé to help me out when I’m in tears of frustration over a report and he helps me get perspective and take lessons from it.

    I tend to prioritise a lot, and if, by the end of the week, something fell off the end of the list, it was probably not that important anyway! Just so long as self care doesn’t fall off the end, but I’ve learned my lesson now!

    • I often ‘refile’ tasks and when they don’t get done for months, I realize they aren’t important and I don’t have to get them done. There is so much in the world that we think we must do but we don’t have to.

  7. Wow!! Thanks for an amazing post. I SO needed to hear what you just wrote. I woke up thinking, “I really suck at life. Everything is so disorganized and I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!”
    I need someone to give me step-by-step instructions so I will be checking out that book and eagerly waiting some more of your posts. Love your writing, by the way.

  8. Oh I need this! I am stuck with grand ideas of productivity when really I’m just really productive at making To Do Lists and re-reading them. I’ve got that down pat. Now I need to take the next step and DO. Must get index cards and get a move on. 🙂

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