How to get stuff done – or more likely – Why you never get anything done.

It is ironic that in this age of unlimited technology, endless information, and with almost the sum total of human knowledge, available to us (via Wikipedia on a simple handheld device), that we still say we cannot get things done.

Small business forums and face book groups are awash with posts from people reporting that they are easily distracted and unable to get stuff done.

Why is this? (and would you like to know how to get stuff done?)

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We should accept that we are hardwired to be like our neighbours and our friends. Whatever we have is not what we want, whenever we see on T.V. or other media a gadget or toy, it becomes our mission in life to get it, because they already have one, or something like it.

Rewind now to the middle 1980s and the era of the “Yuppie” (the Young Upwardly Mobile Professional). They stood, walked, sat and ate with mobile phone in one hand and filofax in the other, endlessly trying to fit in lunch/dinner dates, and dressed in the latest designer gear and high end sports wear.

At the time people laughed at the “Yuppies” they were a figure of fun.

Look at us now – the technology has become cheep and cheerful, we are all yuppies – we spend all our time; “catching up”, trying to get stuff done, watching what others are doing.

And this is the first and main reason why we feel that we never get anything done!

Catching up, apps and other associated tasks, have become an industry in themselves – don’t believe me? – then type in “productivity app” into Google.

STOP reading and do it NOW!

What did you get?

Instead of actual “activity apps” – the stuff you can download and actually use immediately – I got; news about which app is compatible with which handset and information about whether some api should be open or closed.

What that has to do with productivity – I’m not entirely sure!

Consider that, in all this, YOU are the product.

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The consumer I.T. industry and buying cycle is virtually built on telling people the problems that they are going to solve.

For many people (myself included) working through a list of 100, ONE HUNDRED! Iphone productivity apps; sounds like a really fun way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.

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So what to do?

Here, I am assuming, that having got this far, you have some understanding of the issue of not getting things done and you want to get up and snap yourself out of it. Well here’s how.

First, and with a blinding flash of the obvious the world did actually exit before the internet. Business was transacted, people got stuff done and it seems were generally happier for it.

Second: Imagine that I am sat behind you while you are working at your desk. Whenever you are about to goof off; looking at sport pages or a picture of a skateboarding cat, or holiday photos from a camping trip, I will stab you with a biro and tell you to get back to work.

This extremely unlikely scenario is not going to work for very long, so here are some practical ideas to get you going:

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1. Unsubscribe to everything – go through your inbox and brutally delete all the stuff that you still need to do or that which is waiting for action from you. If someone wants you badly enough they will call back or email again.

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An empty inbox is very liberating – a full inbox means that you are subconsciously carrying junk with you, while every time you open your open your hotmail/outlook or whatever, it is like a bully waiting at the school gate.

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2. Go to all those social networks that you fiddle about on and delete all your friends. Yep, all or them – OK you’re allowed a few, just keep them secretive.

Why is this important?

By exposing yourself to other people you risk being severely derailed.


a) They will end up talking about what they want to talk about.

b) You will be looking at their stupid infographics, blog posts (lazy blog posts at that rather than pornographic blogging like this blog post) and possibly, even worse, photos of their dogs, cats, kids, wedding.
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Is this harsh?

Yes of course it is – because your productivity is your responsibility. No-one else’s.

Moving along…

That depends:

Do you invite those annoying people who knock on your door and try and sell you double glazing into your house for coffee and a chat to avoid being rude?

Do you keep talking to the energy efficiency people on the phone, rather than watch the football on TV to avoid being rude.

OF COURSE NOT. Nobody in their right minds does that, so why do we avoid being rude when it comes to people we used to do geography with when we were at school who want to talk to us on Facebook or get us to sponsor their kids at their sponsored swim or whatever?

If you really don’t want to feel that you are being rude; give people a quick call and tell them that in the interest of productivity you are removing them and hope that this does not mean the end of friendships and will take their call if something crops up.

Assuming you will still take the call.

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3. Will Power: Fiddle about with apps on your phone all you like, but all you are doing is masking the problem. If you cannot stop yourself from looking at inanities and foolishness, cuteness and idiocy and be able to focus on the job in hand – no filter or tool will be able to help you.

You are like an alcoholic putting a lock on a cupboard full of booze while still holding the key, just in case. Being unwilling to give it all up will always prevent an increase in productivity.

The correct thing to do to get stuff done is metaphorically speaking to pour the booze down the sink.

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4. Almost Final tip: if none of the above work – unplug you internet, physically take the plug out – YOU will be surprised by how much stuff you can get done if you can’t just ‘nip online’ to find something out.

Also remember: sitting at your computer is not the place for creative work. I actually write blog posts which contain over 1000 words using a piece of paper and a pencil and a lot of the time it is easier to work where there is no internet. That’s right, free wifi is not always good in my book.

The public library is a good place to go – yes they have computers and free wifi but the librarians tend to frown on people looking at skateboarding dogs.

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What about you?

Has this jolted you into a new kind of thinking or are you going to drift along on forums and reading about your friends kids school play or sponsored swim.?

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5. Tell tale tip: If you work alone or in a small office, this quick tip will alert you to the fact that you might be starting to waste time.

Many have found it hard to make the transfer from corporate working to sole trader – in a crowded office it was easy to find someone to talk to or to have a wander around the office if we got bored, then feeling refreshed return to the hamster wheel and get back to work.

Working on our own we have no one to talk to about the x-factor or big brother. The business model of stuff like this is that they are built on conversation and controversy. To find out about it, we go to find out about it online.

If you find yourself thinking about something other than the task in hand; the quickest way to remove temptation is to find an environment away from your computer.

Go for a walk, go and get a drink do something else.
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The time you spend doing this is small fry compared to looking for the latest news and gossip from ‘celebrity’ trash shows. Plus, if you are like me I have enough to think about without stuffing my head with inane rubbish.

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WOW – You made it this far. Well done. In an age where bloggers need to constantly battle for the attention of readers the whole way down the page, you deserve a medal. If I had a suitable one, I would present it to you in a full ceremony that dates back about 10 years.
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Unfortunately, I have no such thing to offer you.

What I can offer you is the following goodies.

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Goodie number ONE.

You should get my free video – 3 things no business advisor will ever tell you. You can do this by clicking on this link.

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You should subscribe to me on YouTube to get more rants and right angles.

Here is the link for that.

1467662716_three how to get stuff doneGoodie number THREE.

Tell me what you want to hear about next.

What keeps you awake and staring at the ceiling at night?

(You can also find sharing buttons cunningly hidden in the blog post – re – read it if you need to…)

Once again thanks!

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About the Author

Jonathan Senior. Management consultant. Swimmer, cyclist, runner, triathlete since 1996. Running coach, blogger since 2005. Likes punk rock, rap & rugby league. Dislikes dogs, tattoos and most other people.

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