Back in 1988, a company called Nike launched a very successful marketing campaign with the tag line, “Just Do It.”
That phrase became so ingrained within the collective psyche of our society that it’s now believed that if you’re not seen as “doing something,” you’re wasting time.
Further, with the promise of technology being able to do more and more, and do it faster and faster, a corollary belief has developed that people will be able to do more and more, and do it faster and faster, since technology is not responsible for achievement, people are. Technology is just a tool, and the faster and more efficiently the tool works, that should increase the user’s ability to do the same, right?
Technology, however, doesn’t need to sleep – even though computers do, primarily to preserve battery life. Humans not just need, but require, sleep. And need time to process. And need time to meditate. And need time to communicate with their higher power. And need time formulate. And need time to plan. And need time to discern.
But things have to get done, right?
Ah! There’s the difference. “Do” is a process. “Done” is the result.
So many of us have so many things on our “do” list that it’s overwhelming, and more and more things are added daily – okay, sometimes hourly. Even though we’re told by a supervisor, “I need you to do this,” the inference is, “I need you to get this done.”
So, perhaps “Just do it” isn’t so energizing after all. Perhaps it’s time to re-envision the concept of “do,” and “Just Start It.”
As Greg McKeown, author of “Essentialism,” states in his text:
Work on it a little every day, and give yourself plenty of lead time if you have a due date. If it’s a work assignment, and it gets put on your plate by your supervisor, and you’re already under pressure to get projects done on deadline, ask ‘I’m glad you have confidence in me to get this task accomplished. Which of my other projects would you like me to deprioritize?’ If none is given, suggest one.
How do you keep track of all those things, rather than just writing everything down on a list? After all, you might miss something somewhere on it, and rewriting lists is terribly unproductive.
Try using a Kanban approach. There are apps such as Kanbana, Trello, Asana, and, my favorite, MeisterTask, that you can use to help you with the process, but a great way to start is to get some Post-it Notes of different colors for the different categories of “Do” items you wish to track. Let’s say you have 5 projects at work. Put the name of each project on the same colored Post-it Note. Then there are those things that need to be done at home. Put each of those on the next color you choose. Then there are those things that are affiliated with your work outside your work, such as for your church, or for an organization with which you are affiliated. Now, find a wall…or perhaps a bulletin board…with nothing on it. Create five “headings” to start out – Do/Started/Half-Way/Nearing Completion/Done. Be sure to separate each vertical section of the wall with painter’s tape (don’t use masking tape, or you’ll be repainting the wall). Then, put the Post-it Note projects in their respective column relative to the stage of completion. Seeing this every day will motivate you to move the projects forward, and, if they get “stuck,” alert you to what you need to prioritize to get it “unstuck.” Then, when the task is “Done,” leave the post-it note in that column to celebrate your achievements on a weekend day. Take a picture of it! ONLY then, to celebrate getting “unstuck,” remove it (okay, unstick it) from the wall to leave more room for the what you’re going to get done over the next week.
The key to getting things done is getting them started, rather than having projects remain in the must “Do” stage, since we’re designed to “need to finish” what we’ve started.