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Better Business Idea #61

"To Do", "Doing", "Done!"

© 2003 by Michael C. Gray

December 3, 2003


What characteristics do you think successful people have?

Many times, people say, "No wonder she is so successful. Look at all of the things she does!"

More accurately, you could say, "Look at all of the things she gets done!"

Successful people distinguish themselves from average people by getting the right things done.

A very popular planning tool is the "to do" list. Most of us have one, of one sort or another. And it is helpful to have a list to remember the things we need to do.

But, in the end, what we "need to do" isn’t what’s important.

And, in order to accomplish things, we need to move some items from the "to do" to a "doing" list. But many people have a "doing" list that seems to grow and grow because of a lack of focus. They really accomplish very little.

"…With you, there may be nothing wrong,
But here’s my trouble right along
I do the things that don’t amount
To very much, of no account,
That really seem important though
And let a lot of matters go.
I nibble this, I nibble that,
But never finish what I’m at.
I work as hard as anyone,
And yet, I get so little done
I’d do so much you’d be surprised
If I could just get organized!"
-- Douglas Malloch

Imagine the improvement in self esteem and the value of a person to others when that person actually gets things done. Move important items out of the "doing" list to the "done" list as quickly as possible.

Here are a few simple suggestions to help get more items to your "done" list.

  1. Prioritize your "to do" and "doing" list. Focus on accomplishing what has the highest emotional (relationship investments) or monetary payoffs first. Procrastinating things that aren’t important isn’t so bad when you are using that time and energy to so something important according to your values.
  2. Work on one thing until it’s done. Then start on the next thing. When you don’t do this, you are diffusing your energies. Each thing finished creates a space and a success record that will make it easier to finish the next item. (This is more important for men than women. Women seem to be more geared for "multi-tasking".)
  3. Sometimes, "good enough" is good enough. There isn’t enough time in life to get many things done perfectly. Making mistakes can give you vital feedback to actually help you get more done faster.
  4. For a business, create a measurement system to track whether important things are being done. We call the most important items to get done in a business its Critical Success Factors. The measurements for the critical success factors are called Key Performance Indicators. Everyone in the organization should be informed about these measurements on a regular basis, because "What you can measure, you can manage," and "What gets measured, gets done!"
  5. Remember to delegate tasks. You can delegate to employees, subcontractors, or family members. Have you heard the definition of "team" – "Together Everyone Achieves More?" By moving "to do" or "doing" items from your list to others, you create the time space to do the things that are most important.
  6. Keep a "done" list. When you are hitting a wall or are feeling a little low, reading through what you have done gives you a self-esteem boost and the confidence that you can finish the job at hand.

I hope you’ll amaze your friends and associates by applying these ideas and resolving to get more important things done with your life.

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San Jose, California 95128
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