The Art of Getting S**t Done

Do you have the longest to do list in the world, which never seems to end and always seems to get bigger? Do you feel like the busiest person ever?

Unfortunately, I want to tell you that you’re not.

Your list is as long as everyone else’s. Sometimes the more you THINK about your list, the less likely you are to actually action anything as you become overwhelmed by the thought of it all. We live in a digital world where we are expected to reply / action things immediately. I want to let you know that you don’t have to.

We hear about “the art of getting shit done” a lot these days but what does it actually mean? I have a stationery with the phrase “think less do more” on it to remind me to pull my head out of my ass and just get on with my job. But is this really the best way to work?

When does the art of getting stuff done simply mean being reactive to requests? Does it actually mean thinking less? Does it mean that what we end up doing is actually a load of crock?

In my opinion, it’s got nothing to do with thinking less. It’s not about just getting “shit” done. It’s all a case of time management.

In a small core team like Spark, we’ve had to learn how to work with a consistently long list, learn to juggle and spin plates without letting anything break, without risking quality and service.

Here are some tips to make that list manageable:

1. Have a master list and split it into sections for bite-sized chunks. By this I mean, what are the core elements of your work? Do you work with lots of different clients? Do you work across different departments? Make them the sections.

2. Prep your day the day before IF NOT EARLIER – this includes blocking out time in your own diary to ensure nothing else gets booked in.

3. Write a to do list per day based on the priorities within your master list.

4. PLAN your weeks. If you know there is a deadline for something next Monday, ensure you have blocked out enough time in your diary for the work itself. Don’t leave it till the day before, silly.

5. Communicate with your team as often as you can but in the right forums e.g. use any internal meetings for exactly what they should be used for. If there isn’t a meeting for what you want to discuss then book it in with as much advanced warning as possible.

6. Get the big things done first. We’re all keen to put them off as they seem the most daunting. We think that if we do all the little and quick tasks first, then we will feel productive. However, all we will have done is filled a day with little tasks (there will always be little tasks to do!) and still have the big one looming over us. Just do it. Block time out in your diary; get out the office or lock yourself in a room and be strict with yourself.

7. Got a load of big things and can’t figure out where to start? PRIORITISE. Prioritise based on most imminent deadlines, with long term and short term results / goals in mind (whether that’s employee welfare, client satisfaction, financial income or savings for the business etc).

8. Prep for the last minute, reactive things. Of course, these are going to happen. You won’t be able to remember everything and neither will your clients so sometimes you’ll have to tackle a hot potato. Put at least an hour of contingency time in your day. This will ensure that not everything you’ve planned to do will get thrown out the window. And it allows you time to breathe. It even means that if you don’t need that time to put out fires then you can prep your list for the following day and even get a head start on it.

9. Delegate some work to others but do it right! Delegation is an art form in itself and in order to get the best results, you need to brief your team and provide them with as much information as possible. Delegating a task DOES NOT mean delegating the responsibility of that task. There’s a lot more to delegating than people realise so maybe I’ll write another blog on this. Watch this space.

10. Be honest with your colleagues, including the boss. If you feel as if you can’t take on a task being passed onto you, speak up! They can then either ask someone else, take other work off you, or help you to prioritise.

11. Remember what your job spec says. In all working environments, but especially the smaller ones, the lines between job roles can become blurry. Remember what your main job role responsibilities are and always put them at the top of your list. Trust your colleagues to do the same and if you can’t, then flag it to the right people.

12. And finally, remember that you are a part of a team. You are not an island. When you work well with your colleagues, your list will feel lighter as you share the challenges and work on problem-solving solutions together.

Basically the “art of getting shit done” means thinking things through and planning how you will get your list done, not in a crap way, but a thoroughly planned and organised way.

Remember you’re human. But don’t be a victim of your to do list.

If you are genuinely struggling, TALK to the right people who can make a change.

Get your work done, guys.