#66 How To Finally Get Things Done

Small Changes Big Impact newsletter banner

Time and the Productivity Obsession 

Many people prioritise being productive and getting things done. The fact that our experience of this lifetime is finite is what gives meaning to time. If it went on forever and ever, we wouldn’t experience the overwhelm and the constant need to ‘get sh*t done’ because time wouldn’t be such a big deal. We’d have an infinite amount of it, after all!

But, for many people the fact that time is limited causes them a lot of stress, overwhelm, anxiety and frustration. The big kicker is when procrastination joins the party!

Because most of us have so many things we want to do in life yet we always feel we don’t have enough time, you’d think that would make us just get on with things and get them done as fast as possible. However, this is far from what actually happens in reality. Many of us put off the things we want to do most in life and then get annoyed because they’re not done.

Let’s see if you recognise yourself in any of these statements below. You:

➡️ have a million and one projects on the go at any given time

➡️ know you want to finish things but somehow you never seem to get around to actually finishing it

➡️ get decision fatigue on what to do and so you often end up doing nothing

➡️ want to do a particular thing but for some reason you seem to work on everything else but ‘that thing’ (procrastination at its best!)

➡️ don’t know how to use your time to your advantage so you can get important things done

*and when I say important, I mean important to YOU

If you resonate with any of these, then this week’s issue is for you!

Reasons Why You Might Be Procrastinating and Not Getting Things Done

You have things you want to finish but you never seem to get there. Here are a few reasons why you might be doing that.

👉 You don’t know how to fit it in your timeframe so you don’t start it

👉 You worry you don’t know how to do it so you keep putting it off (self-doubt)

👉 You don’t actually want to do it so you actively avoid it by ‘procrastinating’ (you’re bored or uninspired)

👉 You’re afraid or anxious of the results so it’s better not to do it and avoid a possible ‘bad ending’

👉 You don’t think you’ll do it well and if it can’t be perfect then there’s not point in trying (perfectionism)

👉 You worry about what others will think

👉 Distractions stop you from from being focused on doing ‘the thing’

There could be plenty of reasons why you don’t do them but today isn’t about finding out the reason behind your behaviour but rather to give you a way to actually get the things that matter to you most done! 

To Do List post-its

A Key To (Actually) Get Things Done

While there are a million and one productivity hacks out there (feel free to Google it if you don’t believe me!) one of the key things that I believe stops people from completing things is options. Decision fatigue is real!

If each day you have a seemingly unlimited amount of things you want to do, it’s hard to stay focused on just a few. I know in my life there are so many things still on my bucket list and yet I never get around to them. I’ve done an unbelievable amount of other things but some of the most important things seem to still be on that list. Why?

A big part of that, I think, is because I have a choice of so many other things I can do and so I divide my attention. (Hello procrastination!)

While productivity gurus might have a lot of different strategies to apply, today I’m going to give you one that I came across and totally resonated with. It makes a lot of sense, is easy to follow, simple to understand and I think you’ll love it – especially when you start to notice that you’re actually getting things done!

I heard of this while reading the book Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkerman and knew this was something that could help solve the problem of never completing things that actually matter.

Most people have so many things on the go which is a subconscious strategy to make us feel like we’re using our limited time wisely and that we have freedom. But doing all these things backfires because we hardly ever get them all done – or at least we don’t get the things done that we truly care about. We usually just end up bouncing around from one thing to the next in our attempt to do it all. This gives us the feeling of freedom to choose what we want to do and we feel ‘busy and productive’ because we’re doing so much (but we never actually finish them).

Something becomes tedious or difficult, and we just jump to a different project, telling ourselves that ‘we’ll come back to it later’. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we hardly ever do and this comes at the cost of hardly ever finishing anything important to us. Make sense? Can you relate?

What we need, what a key to getting things done is setting limits on what we allow ourselves to do.

The Simple Strategy to Avoid Procrastination on Important Things

To get started, give yourself a clear limit of how many things you allow yourself to work on at any particular time. Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry, who came up with this strategy in the book Personal Kanban, suggest limiting yourself to three projects at a time.

They say that you must choose three things that are of utmost importance to you and that you actually want to get done. These three things become the only projects you can work on. Of course, normal day-to-day tasks like laundry, dishes, etc. don’t count. These aren’t ‘projects’ and are just daily life tasks. We are talking about the important and meaningful things you have been wanting to do but keep putting off for various reasons/excuses.

Maybe you will finally write that book. Or maybe you’ll put photos in the family photo album (am I showing my age by listing this as an option?😜). And maybe you’ve been meaning to paint the bedroom for the past two years because they’re still covered in crayon marks from when the kids were young!

It doesn’t matter how big or small – what matters is you’ve wanted to get it done and it yet it still remains undone. Well, now is your chance.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose three things/projects that are meaningful to you that you want to make sure get completed.
  2. You can ONLY work on these three projects for the time being. Any other tasks that come, you think of, or are asked of you will have to wait.
  3.  The only way to add something new to the list is if you a) finish one of the three things and a space opens up, or b) you decide to abandon one of the three projects by deciding you no longer wish to accomplish this.
    *This can happen because we might change our mind about something and/or it loses its importance to us.

This is literally it.

It sounds so simple, right? But the key here is mental agreeance! You create an alliance with yourself and promise that you can only work on those three thins in your spare time. You will either get a move on it and actually get it done because you can’t switch to any of the other options that are off the list until you finish these three project. Or, you start to do it and then realise that it’s actually not that important to you anymore in life, in which case you can scratch it off your to-do list altogether!

Their system helps you to finally, once and for all, get going and get things completed…or it helps to decrease the amount of things you tell yourself you actually want to do.

One last important thing to remember is to take time when picking your three projects. Which ones will have the greatest impact on your life? Or which ones will you actually have time to complete? If you know a certain project will take a looooooong time, are you willing for that project to be on your list for a loooooon time? Or would you rather choose three other things that will take less time and you will be able to get them finished and out of the way? There is no right or wrong answer here – only what you think is best for you and what will get you more motivated. If having something on your list doesn’t motivate you to bite into it and do it, then don’t put it on your list.

What are your three projects or tasks that you will choose first? What are three things you’ve been wanting to get done but keep procrastinating on and putting off by switching to something else?

Declare them to yourself – and then STICK to them and allow yourself to only tackle these tasks until one of them is done and you can add another to your list. And enjoy the feeling you get when you finally can tick it off!


The small change → only allow yourself to work on three projects at a time in life (and not an endless to-do list) 

The big impact → you will have more focused energy, less distraction and you’ll actually get things done without all the procrastination you’re used to

Half term, bring it on!

Martina x

Scroll to Top