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The Art of Getting Things Done

Running a business is as much about discipline as it is about skill or talent. It’s great to be interested in something, but to make money from it, you need to commit to it full time. There are thousands of good blogs about productivity on the web, but when your resources are spread thinly, just reading all of these blogs can be enough to derail your financial forecasts.

Larry Bossidy is the ex-chairman of Honeywell International, a global tech firm that has profited in its billions. If anyone knows about delivering on their promises, it should be the CEO of a successful multinational.

Is there a secret to actually getting things done? And is it a skill you can develop?

The Problem with Planning

There’s a new concept in business: the lean startup. Essentially, lean startups carry as little weight as possible. They do more with less, and they do it much faster.

This is contrary to the traditional method of running a business. In some cases, you can’t open a bank account without presenting a business plan.

Sure – having a strategy is great. But endlessly planning is wasteful. All the time you spend planning could be better spent doing.

The baggage of endless preparation, lists, business plans, schedules and paperwork goes some way to explaining why promising business ideas are buried in red tape.

The Problem with Panicking

If you don’t plan your business meticulously, you’re going to need to be driven to succeed. Just because you don’t put everything on paper, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be committed to seeing your vision to its conclusion.

A last-minute panic is almost as bad as months of pointless planning. Either way, you’re not using your time well.

Some people are naturally able to get things done. They are the world’s natural leaders; the kind of people that respond to customer emails at 7am, or compile invoices for cheap thrills on Friday night.

If you’re not a natural ‘doer’, there are still things you can do to cultivate your inner control freak.

Being More Productive

Reward is one of the key principles in Larry Bossidy’s books. If you find yourself struggling to get things done, you may need a bigger carrot on the end of your stick.

Set yourself goals, with rewards that appeal to your interests. If you’re broke, give yourself a bonus for doing that much-needed overtime. If you’re stressed out, don’t let yourself book you next holiday until your current project has been sent for sign-off.

And if that doesn’t work, there are myriad tools that will help you get more things done. Use Trellot to create to-do lists, Teamwork to build project plans, or break up your day with a Pomodoro timer.

If social media is wasting your day, use Freedom to switch the web off while you work.

Train yourself to be more persistent, and to stop leaving things until the last minute. You’ll benefit in so many ways. Your work will be of a higher quality, and you’ll get things turned around faster. Small rewards will start to mount up, and you’ll probably sleep better at night too.

Strategy is good, but it’s persistence and effort that will going to deliver the results that you plan for. You might not be a born business leader, but with effort, you could run a leaner, meaner business that can respond quicker and waste less resource.