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The Secret of Getting Things Done

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We all have our to-do lists and let’s be honest, most of the tasks therein are anything but enjoyable. So, what’s the secret to getting these mundane and/or insurmountable tasks done?

When I was 9, my older brother was responsible for shoveling snow from the driveway after a snowfall. To me, shoveling snow looked like fun. There he was, looking important while playing outside. When I asked to help, of course he said yes. But after shoveling snow for only a few minutes, I didn’t want to continue. It wasn’t fun. It was work.

I think of all of us as we go through this discovery process in our lives. We realize that something that looks like fun is actually work. And while we might later learn to enjoy working, most of us prefer to be having fun.

If you are like me, some of the goals you have set for yourself feel just as difficult as shoveling snow. We discover that some of them require a lot more work then we are willing to give. Furthermore, it may only take a few minutes before we realize just how hard it is really going to be.

I know that to accomplish a difficult goal, I must be willing to do the work. It can’t be any simpler. To accomplish something, I need to take action.

task list

© Flickr user bark

Last winter, I was shoveling the snow from my driveway. The process was mostly the same as it was 45 years previously. It is still hard work—but I did not perceive that it would be fun before I started! The difference now is I did not give up. I continued shoveling until I had cleared the the driveway, the sidewalk, and the steps to the front door. Why? Because it needed to be done.

This simple exercise has made me reflect on my goals. Am I really doing the work required? Am I focusing on things because they are fun, or because they need to be done to meet larger objectives? And am I going to quit after a few minutes or am I willing to see it through?

Sometimes we just need to get started. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it is not easy. Next time you feel stuck, remember what it is like to shovel snow for a few hours. Chances are, what you have to do is difficult, but not quite as labor-intensive as you perceive it to be. By ripping off the bandaid of your own misconceptions, you can move past the fear, anxiety, frustration, annoyance, monotony, etc and then simply get to work.

To learn more about ways of getting started on your task list, consider reading up on The Methodology Blog. For nearly a decade, we’ve written posts to cover all arenas on personal productivity and motivation including: reasons not to multitask, how to say no at work, unique methods for productivity, and unusual methods for meeting goals.

When it comes to achieving goals, the simple fact is that it all starts with you. YOU should be responsible for what is ahead. YOU should be accountable to what’s in front of you. What YOU act upon and complete, is YOURS to own. Don’t be afraid to start and don’t drag your feet at the finish line. Have faith in your abilities and push forward despite the task(s) at hand. What you’ll find is more than just a completed to-do list, trust me. You’ll soon discover personal strengths that perhaps you never thought existed within you in the first place.

So what are you waiting for? Go tackle that task list and show it who’s boss!

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Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown is an executive coach who is passionate about personal development. He works to make a difference in people's lives by empowering them with skills and knowledge that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in. Mark has been coached, mentored, and certified by John Maxwell and his team. This coaching certification allows Mark to successfully coach and train individuals, groups, organizations, and companies.
Mark S. Brown


Executive and Business Coach at New Roads Leadership. A founding partner of the John Maxwell Team. We coach for your personal success!
Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown

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