Lists, Productivity, And GSD

Lists, Productivity And Getting Shit Done

I wrote the other day about paralysis of endless opportunities. The to-do lists you’re holding are much like it – paralysis of options. Do this or do that? We’re faced with so many things we’ve gotta do that we stop moving. We’re going to drill the list down. This process is not about prioritizing, it’s about guerrilla warfare on your to-dos, it’s about leveraging constraints, it’s about leaping, not stepping.

Leap 1: Eggs in a basket

Welcome, likely, to your first instance of where putting all your eggs in one basket is a good thing. Start this leap by collecting all open loops, bring all your notes, to-dos, stickynotes, binders, phone lists, into one place. I suggest Evernote.

This is going to look counterproductive and, once you have all your lists, dreams, to-dos, in one place it’s going to look scary.

Do not try to categorize them or order your notes. Dump them all in one space that’s easy to edit. Preferably as bullet points.

Leap 2: Actionable vs Serial

Start this process by going through your document and asking yourself does the task require one action or is it a series of actions?

Really ponder each one. “Clean the deck” might seem like a single action, but don’t you have to call your neighbor to borrow his pressure washer to clean the deck? This becomes a serial task. In these cases, write what the steps are next to the goal or task you want to accomplish.

If it’s one action. Do it right then and there. If you don’t want to do it right then and there (or can’t), delete the task or put it in a new list to run through next week. If you still don’t do the tasks on that list next week, delete them. It’s like looking at your wardrobe, seeing something you want to keep but haven’t worn, if you don’t wear it by next Sunday, toss/donate it.

Side note: By this time you ought to have deleted a handful of notes that no longer resonate to your current mission, that no longer matter, that you no longer want. If you haven’t cleared out at least a quarter of all your tasks/ideas/wishes/dreams/goals, then you’re being too easy, too attached to not doing anything because there’s so much to do.

Pro tip: If you delete something of your list and don’t think about it again next week, then it was never important enough in the first place. If you do think of it again next week, add it back to the list.

Congratulations on your start to GSD, hopefully you’ve now removed all the actionable items from the list either by doing or by cutting them out.

Now all you’re left with are tasks that require multiple steps.

Leap 3: The biggest hack for GSD

The best way to complete a task is to not go to sleep until it’s done. Now it’s time, each morning, to go through your list, choose one that you believe you can accomplish that day and do it. Forget about all the other things that you want to do and focus on that single series of tasks.

At this point you might be wondering why we’re not prioritizing. The reason is that if it needs to get done by a certain date, you’ll do it. Why try to focus on doing something that is already guaranteed to get done by the time it’s due? Doing so is likely what got your to-do list so long in the first place.

What if you don’t complete those series of tasks in a day? Go into the next day working to complete them until they’re done. Then you can move onto the next one.

That’s it. Three leaps to getting shit done.

Pro tip: This same process can be used in email. Is the email an actionable item? Do it or put it in a folder to look back on later.

Lists, productivity and GSD are all about action, not about reprioritizing each day, not about strategizing timelines, not about ranking biggest tasks to smallest ones, and, especially not about doing everything that’s on your list.


Lastly, I want to propose something I’ve done before because I was paralyzed by all the things I wanted to do. Once you have all your notes in one spot. Delete them. Delete them all. As mentioned, if a task is important to you, you’ll remember it a week from now. This is the hail mary of GSD.


Stay Positive & Go GSD

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Artificial Constraints


There are a million options you can take at this very moment.

Thousands of ways you can spend a marketing budget, hundreds of ways to do your work, dozens of ways to reach out to someone you admire.

There are, in fact, so many options to choose from that there is paralysis of endless opportunities. When faced with so many options, we shut down, we do nothing, we don’t choose (or we bicker about what choice to go with, which is still just standing still).

Let me propose you create artificial constraints.

You only get $1,000 of the marketing budget to try something new, can you make it work? If not, stop considering it as an option.

Don’t bring your work home with you after 5 or shut all electronics off at 7 or disconnect your work email from your phone, they’ll call you if it’s an emergency.

Artificial constraints push you to do the best work you can do, prevent you from paralysis of endless opportunities, and keep your mind focused on what matters, not what’s shiny.

Here are a few constraints I put on myself:

  • I put $500 a month into a separate savings account and make what I have left for the month work
  • I don’t work on Saturdays
  • I keep work emails off my phone
  • I only Instagram beer
  • I look at every new project and figure out how it can be done with one person instead of 5, 6, 15 people


Stay Positive & People Die Standing Still, Constraints Help Stop That From Happening

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Episode 30: When Something Isn’t Going To Work, Working On Projects Backward, Making Up And More (Podcast)

Episode 30: When Something Isn’t Going To Work, Working On Projects Backward, Making Up And More (Podcast)

On this episode of In The Box Podcast, we chatted about knowing when someone isn’t ready to hear something, what’s the best indicator if a project isn’t going to work, if it makes sense to work on projects backward, what makes someone a hero, and how to write over bad experiences.

Episode 30: When Something Isn’t Going To Work, Working On Projects Backward, Making Up And More

Not Going to Work – Best sign a strategy / project isn’t going to work?

Change Communication – How do you know if someone isn’t ready to hear something?

Backward – Does it make sense to work on projects backwards?

Heroes – What does it mean for someone to be labelled a hero by someone?

Bonus – Do you believe there is such a thing as making up for something you have already done?


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Imagine If You Had To Do A Hundred

Objects In Mirror Are losing

When Tony Horton is directing an exercise and asks you to do 25 v-up roll-ups, he says, “imagine if you had to do a hundred.”

Of course, 100 would kill you. (Not really, but it feels like it.)

There are two mentalities you can run with when faced with the fear of shipping.

You can settle your fear by saying at least you’re not doing 100, at least you’re not presenting in front of 2,000 people, at least you’re not posting a blog a day. Or…or…

You can do the 100 v-up roll-ups and realize you didn’t die. You can present in to 2,000 people and realize it’s easier than presenting to 20 because when looking out at the audience you see a blob of people and the light’s in your eyes and it’s as if there’s no one out there. You can post a blog a day and realize not as many people read your blog as you thought would.

When it comes to shipping, it doesn’t matter if you ship once or 1,000 times, you’re making yourself open to criticism – both from others and from yourself. (How dare you think your work is good enough? Ha, look at how much money you wasted on a website redesign and no  one even looks at it!)

It just so happens, when you go in for the long run, when you do the more fearful action, it’s easier to put the fear behind you. When you deal with small increments, the fear is always in your face.

I saw a great sticker to put on the side mirrors of vehicles. It says, “objects in mirror are losing.”

The more miles you put in, the more true the statement is, but instead of objects, it’s your fears.


Stay Positive & Do More. Fear Doesn’t Deserve To Win

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Parallell Paths In Business Development

Business Development

Business development is not so much what more can you do that resonates with your core mission. Business development is less about what dots you connect originating from the centerpiece, rather what dots are you connecting parallel to your core.

The most successful businesses you can think of right now (Sbux, Apple, Netflix, Twitter) aren’t as successful as they are because of the service you think they provide. There are a ton of parallel paths of business development.

Go to the app store and look at all the apps Twitter Inc. is the maker of. Look at how many Netflix originals with unique actors. Think of Nike integrating Apple iPod device in shoes. Look at all the iscream Sbux doesn’t actually make, but has their name on.

Business development is about doing things differently. It’s about having the guts to try something new, something different, yet still runs parallel to the core truth.

Why most businesses don’t think about partnerships, acquisitions, licensing and such like considerations is because their so focused on the center of their business that they don’t realize the potential of a parallel path.


Stay Positive & Use That Source To Create A New One

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