The Pleasure of Getting Things Done

The Pleasure of Getting Things Done
The Finish (University Boat Race) Wood engraving The Illustrated Australian News, May 1 1893
via State Library Victoria

Despite the hope of getting things done, we’re often better at starting than finishing them. Yet by definition, getting things done is all about the finish.


A1. to complete something or come to the end of an activity
B1. to eat, drink, or use something completely so that none remains

Cambridge Dictionary

And there’s the crux of the matter.

And yes, it can seem impossible to get started, but it’s way easier to start than to finish.

Like moving this enormous pile of mulch – way easier to start than to finish.

And how do you move a sh*t-tonne of mulch?

Bit by bit.

A bit every day, over many days.

It’s that easy, and that hard.

And I can assure you, if feels pretty bloody brilliant when you finish.

Why Getting Things Done is Important

Mainly because unfinished projects steal your time and energy.

They’re always fretting on the edge of your awareness nagging at you.

And preventing you from getting started on other more fun things.

How to Get Things Done

  1. Start.
  2. Do a bit.
  3. Do another bit.
  4. Keep doing bits until it’s done.

Some Random Strategies for Getting Things Done

  • Gamify: try to do a little more than you did the last time.
  • Pace yourself: it’s hard to do some things in one go. Make sure you take breaks and stay hydrated.
  • Plan rewards for finishing: hot baths, clean sheets, a glass of wine, whatever it is that will help keep you on task.
  • Remind yourself why: keep what’s in it for you top of mind.
  • Remind yourself of the cost: remember what you’ve got to lose if you don’t get it done.
  • Make it easier to get started: the kind of keep your track pants by the bed and sneakers by the door thing.
  • If it’s working keep going: if you’ve got it in you to keep going, then keep going.
  • Set targets: give yourself smaller goals to achieve along your way to the big one.
  • Track your progress: record how far you get each session so you can see how far you’ve come. If it’s a BIG thing, give yourself progress rewards as well.
  • Eat the frog: if it’s yukky, do it first and get it out of the way.
  • Schedule the time: set aside time to do it. Allow more time than you think you’ll need.
  • Make it more pleasant: if it’s the kind of thing you can, listen to music or podcasts to make the time feel less awful.
  • Get everything ready before you get started: no need to stop when you find you’re missing a crucial tool.
  • Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect: it just has to be done. You can give it a lick of finishing at the end if you need to. (Or still want to.)

And When You’re Done

Don’t forget to celebrate!!!

But before you do. Close your eyes, and focus on experiencing what finishing feels like; your shoulders dropping, your time and space opening up before you, and the satisfaction of having completed something you set out to do.

If you can do it once, you can do it again.

But maybe take a break first!

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