Category Archives: getting stuff done


Action Begets Action

Action begets action.

This works in two ways at least: habit-forming and piggy-backing.

Taking regular positive steps, however small, can lead to positive habits. Activities such as writing, expressing gratitude, meditating or taking exercise, when practised daily can form growing, long-lasting habits. It doesn’t even need to take much time. One minute a day is infinitely better than nothing at all, is less than 0.5% of your day, and can lead to much greater things. (Nobody starts a 40 cigarette a day habit by smoking 40 cigarettes on day one…)

Getting things done feels good. Success, however small is its own reward. If you have something that needs doing but you’ve been putting it off, you can use the momentum and positive feeling from completing another task to power you through. I find that doing some gardening is great prep for doing a job I really don’t want to do. Even taking a walk can help break the barrier of ‘I can’t be arsed.’

If you’re stuck, if you’re lost, if you’re procrastinating, try doing something positive yet irrelevant. See if it helps.

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The Virtuous Cycle

Develop skills, develop assets.

Rinse. Repeat.

Do this daily, every day. Also, try to avoid anything else. If something won’t result in an increase in skills, a boost to an asset, or a new asset, don’t do it. Meetings, I’m looking at you.


Minimum Viable Toolbox

“I need this tool.”

“I really need to go on this course.”

“If only I had…”

These are things we might tell ourselves. They can be comforting, cushioning thoughts. For physical, hands-on activities it might well be true. But for knowledge work, for making change, I suggest that all we need is the following:

• Focus – to know our destination
• Brainstorming – to find the path
• Making a plan – to help us find our next step
• Ask questions/Google/for help – when we’re stuck
• Will – to take all the steps needed


What’s your 4-pack?

(Lessons from Arnold Schwarzenegger and his midriff)

Apparently, Arnold Schwarzenegger only ever had a 4-pack. A 4-pack stomach is like a 6-pack stomach but not quite as ‘good’ (some of the abdominal muscles are still covered by body fat), or so I hear. There’s an 8-pack option too.

Genetics meant that even though Arnie was the Mr Olympia for a number of years he was never able to attain a 6-pack.

Did this bother him? Did it hold him back?

I’m not sure we can know the answer to the first question but by most standards the answer to the latter question is a resounding no.

What are the 4-packs in your life, home or business? How much time and effort are you exerting chasing a metaphorical 6-pack? What else could you spend that energy on? Where could you apply the rule of good enough?

The opposite side of the coin from incrementing to awesome is knowing when to stop.




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Midway through a project, what to do next?

“And it’s whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason.” – Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven

It’s nice to have a muse, or a piper, to show us the way forward but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, it’s up to us to decide the best path, specifically what do next. When there are a number of options which should we choose?

I was working on my own pet project the other day and had this exact problem. Of the 50 or so things I’d identified, which should I do next?

I came up with this simple method and it helped me decide what to do next.

1. Break down the project/product/service into chunks
What these chunks will look like will depend on what you’re doing. Are you building a steam-train or writing a presentation?

2. Prioritise the chunks
Do you need a steam engine first or a chassis? Images for your presentation or the words?

3. Evaluate where you are now
For each chunk where are you on the No FRILs scale (below)?

4. Decide where you want to be, overall
Where are you aiming for on the No FRILs scale? Are you looking to simply provide a reliable service or do you want to blow the socks off your customers? (p.s. be honest here, it’ll save you pain in the long term)

5. Evaluate overall status
Which chunk is farthest from your desired level? If there’s just one there, that’s what you work on. In case of a tie-breaker, go back to your priorities from part 2. Compare all the chunks at this lowest level. Whichever is highest-priority is what you work on next.

I hope this helps you as much as it helped me. Let me know if you find this useful in the comments below. And drop me a line if you can help me get another ‘L’ into the end of the scale!


No FRILs Scale

Nowhere – does nothing
Functional – solves a problem (your train runs sometimes)
Reliable – no bugs (it runs all the time but there’s only one door for all passengers)
Ideal – no frustrations (now the train has a suitable number of doors)
Lovable – does everything expected and more besides (free chocolates for all passengers)