David Pahmp Photography

The essence of getting things done

The wheel has long since been invented, and so has ways of dealing with procrastination and time management. The trick is to find the way that works for you, because we're all different and so is the motivation needed.

Well, most of us already got the motivation, we need to work to get money, we need to move and eat right to stay the shape we want to, we need clean the apartment to, well, not having to die of dust suffocation eventually. Since there are tons of advices out there already, millions of motivational memes, and I'm far from an expert, I'll just share some of the pieces I found helpful.

So what piece is missing then? Possibly structure and probably discipline. The ultimate disciplined person would wake up, do what's needed and move on to the next thing, until everything's done.

My biggest enemies (excluding myself from the list, since that's implied from the beginning) are:

Distractions & Not knowing what to do next

 Getting things done

Not knowing the next step

When you're about run a marathon, the task at hand is a way easy. You simply start running and not finish until you've reached the finish line. However, getting to the point to have the capabilities to run so far, is another matter. For this I use the approach taught by David Allen. He wrote the book Getting Things Done which, very simplyfied, teaches you to get exactly everything out of your head and organized on lists. Everything from things you might want to do someday, to simple tasks as rearrange your sock drawer. This way you get more at ease, because you don't need to remember what's needed to be done.

But this is what helped me a lot.

Whenever I'm face with a big project, I often get stuck, and it's due to not knowing the next step.

Example: Paint the exterior of your cottage. It sounds easy enough, but when you start thinking of everything you need to do to get it done, it might feel daunting and you put it aside.

In order to paint the house I need scaffolding, paint, brushes, oh, and yes, first get the old dried paint removed. I can't do this alone, I need help. And what color?

Instead, start breaking it down into steps.

Needed: Paint, Scaffolding, High Pressure Wash, Transport etc.

And suddenly you got a list looking something like this:

1. Measure the area of the walls needed to paint.

2. Go to the paint shop and A. choose color, B. ask how much paint needed

3. Ask your friend with a van to help you transport and paint the house with you – tempt with barbecue and beer

And so the task seems less intimidating, because you know exactly what to do next.


Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Social media in whole can present a very strong distraction – if you timed how much time you spend there you might get scared and at least sometimes makes me feel like a fool. For me, keeping both contact with clients via social media and also working directly with it, to help clients get their messages out, the option to turn them off during working hours is not available.

But my biggest distractions at work are often work itself

So how do you deal with this? Apart from keep adding every task that's not done immediately (like replying to an e-mail that just needed a short answer), is to work with chunks. This idea I caught from Chase Jarvis. With the type of clients I work with, I can't collect e-mail replies to a chunk, but have to reply all through the day, but some parts I can.

If I have three 30 minute tasks, and two larger projects spanning over several days, I allocate a chunk each day for the big projects, and one chunk for the small tasks. Nothing else is done except those projects during that time. I say nothing with a disclaimer though. At any point during my day, I usually receive phonecalls with urgent amends to maybe an advertisement, brochure or maybe an panic image delivery. Then you just have to be flexible.

The important thing is to have those big tasks broken down into pieces as wel, so you always know what the next step is.


Adding a reward

With really tedious and boring tasks, like cleaning house, you can weave in rewards. Allocate a chunk for the kitchen, then 30 min of your favourite TV-show. Then get the bathroom done and after that coffee and a cinnamon roll. Mmm, yummy. This is you need to get those things done as well.


Other inspirational people

Two people who's thinking influences me a lot are Pauline Nordin – her dedication is unprecedented, as well as Gary Vee. They don't sugarcoat anything, but speak all day of "disciplining your dedication" and "it's hard work that gets you somewhere". And believe it or not, Dwayne Johnson – from where he once was, to where he is now – regardless of what you think of his acting skills, and how he stays humble despite of all he got. Let's stay hungry. And end with a meme, obviously.

Mark Cuban quote




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