- Decide what needs to be done.
- Figure out how to get it done.
- Do it.
This method is pure gold. If I follow the steps, in order, things get done. If I find myself freaking out over not getting things done, it’s always because I skipped a step.
Perhaps the most common mistake I make is to jump to Step 3 before I think about Step 1. Often, I lose momentum at Step 2. (Right now, I’m avoiding Step 3 for something that’s closing in on deadline.) But, once I double-check my Method, it’s a simple matter of going back and taking it step by step.
For a long time I kept this formula all to myself, even considering a patent for it. Seeing how often things don’t get done, I thought for sure it would be worth money.
One day, though, in the middle of a tough work meeting, I offered to share my super secret process with my boss. When I told him, he laughed. My method wasn’t as marvelous as I supposed.
Since then, I’ve revealed my 3 steps to other people and received the same response. (The only other wisdom of mine that gets even more amused reactions is when I confide that I think, “This internet thing is big.”) It’s enough to make me doubt my highly effective strategy.
Despite the dismissals of others, I follow this method whenever I want to Get Things Done. Send out a business proposal? Start at 1 and keep going. Plan a major event? Just a 1-2-3 till it’s showtime. Clean the House? It’s only 3 Steps away! My method has never failed, so long as I complete every step, in order.
Because I believe so deeply about truth in advertising, I must admit that adhering to the method is not always possible. If the plan depends on agreement from large groups of people, kids, pets, weather, or politicians, among other things, you may never get past Step 1. If accomplishing your goal requires changes to the laws of physics, the involvement of superheroes, or a time machine, among other things, you could get stuck at Step 2 for the rest of your life. If doing your thing takes more time, money, passion, or voter turnout, among other things, than you can ever make happen, Step 3 can be an insurmountable obstacle.
That said, being able to diagnose why I can’t Get Things Done is a balm to my frustrated soul. If I identify that my 3-Step Method is thwarted, then I can turn to another surprisingly simple, yet effective 3-Step approach, The Serenity Prayer:
- ***, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
- Courage to change the things I can,
- and Wisdom to know the difference.
Traditionally, *** is where one says, “God”. My faith ebbs and flows and sometimes changes Streams of Consciousness. For me, this invocation is most effective if I fill in *** with the name my heart calls out at the moment, “Jesus”, “Universe”, “Goddess”, “Great Spirit”, “Santa Claus”, and in times when I don’t believe in anything anymore, “Brain”.
Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, is credited with writing that prayer. Although I agree with him on some things, I don’t on everything. Looking at his opinions about Getting Things Done in America in the 20th century, I can’t say I’d ever get past Step 2 of my Method with him. That’s where his Prayer comes in handy.
One thing Niebuhr didn’t do was patent his Prayer. For that, I am grateful. I’d owe him a lot of money if he had.
Another thing he didn’t do was to keep his insights all to himself. For that, I am also grateful – whether I agree with it all or not.
Life isn’t as straightforward as my 3-Step Method. Learning from the successes and failures, big ideas and bad decisions of people from all walks of life has helped me avoid some mistakes, and soothe the pain when I’ve fallen awkwardly.
With that in mind, Megan’s 3-Step Method for Getting Things Done is my gift to you.
But wait! There’s more.
For reading all the way to the end of this post, which is payment enough on the Short Attention Span Internet (this thing is big), I give you the awareness that your wisdom, no matter how simple or obvious, is also valuable. You don’t need anyone’s permission to share it.