How To GSD (Get Shit Done) On Your To-Do List!
written by Cameron Brtnik
You’ve got a million things to get done and already you’re falling behind… So you write a To Do List: buy milk, drop off clothes at dry cleaners, send meeting syllabus, pickup package at post office, take phone to get fixed, call mother back, watch ep 4 of House of Cards… Sound familiar? We live in an overwhelming world of constant upgrading technology, perpetual updating, and a ceaseless barrage of text messages on top of our already lengthy to-do lists of more trivial tasks. How to cope with it all? Through research, trying out various proven methods and a good deal of trial and error, I’ve come up with my own techniques on being productive and discovered some invaluable insights. Without further ado-list (sorry), here’s my Top 10 List of “How To Get Shit Done On Your To Do List” or the easy to memorize acronym “HTGSDOYTDL!” Just do it.
Now let’s Get Shit Done on your to-do list!
1. Make a To-Do List (duh!) – Scrap your notebook and use the Evernote app. It’s full of fantastic features to help get your To Do Lists, and your life, in order. In fact, I’m using it right now!
2. Take Action – Add a NA or Next Action next to each task on your To Do List. It’s much easier, and more realistic to get shit on your list done in “chunks.” This simple tweak will do wonders. Some examples:
- Next to “Call mother” add “Call mother – NA [ ] Call Tuesday 9 a.m.”
- Instead of “Work on Novel” add “Work on Novel – NA [ ] write one paragraph”
3. Check It Out – Use box bullet points [x] to check off what you’ve completed, track what you’ve already done, and to feel a sense of accomplishment (yes, this reason is just as important!). Take a moment to look at what you’ve accomplished and to feel good about it. This will help build your momentum as you move on to the next task.
4. Reword It – If it’s been forever since you’ve checked something off your never-ending To Do List, try rewording it just slightly. For example: “Surprise hubby with dinner,” might become, “Surprise hubby with coffee,” or, “Finish chapter one of book,” could become, “Write one paragraph of first chapter.” This subconsciously lifts any stress or pressure it puts on you, and you may even end up cooking your honey dinner or typing out that chapter after all.
5. Sense of Urgent See – If, days later, you still haven’t checked that pesky task off your listicle, move it into an “Urgent” or “Super To-do List” reserved for only the things you need to complete ASAP. Everything else gets put off until you complete these tasks – or you may simply need to free up more time in your strenuous schedule.
6. Two Minute Man – Abide by the the old mantra: “If it can be done in two minutes, then do it now.” Now get off your ass and make your bed! Or mow the lawn really fast.
7. White Bored – If you still prefer to physically write things down (ok boomer!), use a large whiteboard so your tasks also become large, oversized even! Keep your whiteboard on full display so it’s visible at all times – from the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed – and feel the pangs of guilt when you notice you didn’t check off: “Do one nice thing for a coworker today.”
8. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) – Keep only 5 to 6 things on your daily To Do List. This will make it much easier, and more realistic, to Get Shit Done! You can change these tasks up daily, but try to only change one at a time. This will help you build a routine by keeping your daily habits strict and regimented.(Like eating that block of cheese before going to bed. That’s why you’re having such vivid dreams!)
9. Account On Me – Have an “Accountability Partner” – Someone who will make sure you stay on track and follow through on whatever you set out to do. I recommend a daily check-in call that will help motivate you and create momentum for your day. It will also help put the pressure on; this friendly fellow will hold you to it that you’re going to finish reorganizing your desk…or else.
10. Don’t Make To-Do Lists – Huh, doesn’t that make this entire listicle redundant? Well, once you get into a daily habit – this may take days, weeks, or even months – it will become innate, a part of you, so that you won’t have to think about To Do Lists or getting shit done anymore. You’ll just do them.
PS. If you’ve written “make to do list” on your To Do List, I apologize for taking up your precious time and just accept that that pigsty of yours you call a room will never get cleaned.
***To my readers: If you have any advice for how you “Get Shit Done,” please leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com and I’ll feature it the next Top Ten segment!***
Cameron is a freelance writer based in Toronto and devout practitioner of “Getting Shit Done” cbrtnik.com