Before I get started with this episode, I want you to consider this – what I’m about to share might sound familiar or that you know it already, but stay with me because just because you know something intellectually doesn’t mean you actually KNOW it.  You can know something, but until you put it into practice, you don’t really know it.

For example, just because you know that sugar and flour aren’t good for you if you’re trying to lose weight doesn’t mean you turn down sugar and flour all the time.  I want you to begin to challenge yourself if you believe you already know something but aren’t getting the results you want.

If you aren’t getting things done but your brain wants to dismiss some of the things I’m going to share in this episode, be aware that your results will always prove whether you truly know something or not.  Use your results as the scale to measure how well you truly know something.

The interesting thing about our desire to get things done is that we’ve become a society obsessed with productivity and efficiency, yet we all feel like we’re hamsters on a wheel that aren’t getting anywhere.  We’ve become bogged down with ever-growing to-do lists that make it seem impossible to get anything done.

We’ve got plenty of how-to books, TV shows, and classes to teach us, yet the irony is that we’re still struggling more than ever actually to get things done.  Even with all the information we have at our fingertips, we still haven’t quite figured out how to make it simpler to get anything done.

There’s even a book and an entire time-management system titled “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.  It was first published in 2001 and is based on the idea of moving all items of interest, relevant information, issues, tasks, and projects out of one's mind by recording them externally and then breaking them into actionable work items with known time limits.

My time management coaching program for accountants, called “The Balanced Accountant, ” follows a similar sentiment.  I have proven that in order to successfully manage your time and get more done in less time, you must get everything out of your brain and onto paper but then decide in advance how long something will take, calendar it, and follow the calendar no matter what.   

So then the question is, why are we still having issues if we have so many books and programs available to help us get anything done?  The best part of sharing the 3 simple steps to get anything done is that you’ll also understand why things aren’t currently getting done.

Again, you can know something intellectually, but you don't really know it until you put it into practice and make it a habit.  By the end of this episode, I want you to know it by having a plan in place to do it.

This week I’m going to discuss 3 pillars you need to address in order to get things done and the 3 simple steps to get anything done. 



The 3 pillars you need to address in order to get things done

As accountants, we are in a profession that is all about productivity, efficiency, and getting a lot done quickly.  We’re also a very deadline-driven profession, typically facing deadlines on a more regular basis than a lot of other professions.

When you add the pressures of our profession to the fact that you’re also a mom, I think it’s crucial to understand how to get things done.   But I’m not going to approach this from an organizational standpoint; I’m going to discuss 3 pillars that you may not have considered when trying to get things done.

Pillar #1 – Belief in your ability

The first pillar is whether you believe you can get something done.  We all have things that have to be done or were asked to do, but we rarely pause to check whether we believe we can.

On the contrary, too often, we just dive right into getting something done without first checking what we believe, how we feel about the thing that must be done, and our ability to get it done.

The truth is that if you don’t believe you can get something done, you will show up differently than if you do believe.  If you don’t think you can get something done or that you’ll succeed, you’re less likely to try.

Interestingly, this is by design because it’s how our brains work.  Our brain avoids failure at all costs, so if we believe we can’t get something done, our brain will not be on board with getting it done.

It’s one of the reasons that procrastination can be so easy to give in to.  If you don’t believe you can get something done, your brain would rather you not fail, so it will offer you thoughts that keep you from getting that thing done.

This is especially common in our work as accountants because if you lack self-confidence, your lack of belief in your ability will trigger your brain to resist failure.  It can also show up in your desire to do nothing or everything else except the thing you wanted to get done.

This is the reason we become too busy.  We’re distracted by the things we can easily do, like email, laundry, or scrolling Facebook, because of our lack of belief in our ability to get things done. 

The key is your perception. Your skills and abilities are as moldable as your beliefs, so make sure you know what you believe about your ability to get something done. Remember, everything that you can do now, at some point, you couldn’t.

 

Pillar #2 – Fun and pleasure 

I’ve shared this before on the podcast, but our lower brain, the part that runs the show 80 – 90% of the time, is motivated by 3 things, referred to as The Motivational Triad – to seek pleasure, to avoid pain, and to be efficient by expending as little energy as possible.  Our brains are literally pleasure-seeking machines.

This is why video games, social media, and even pornography are multi-billion dollar industries.  They are all tapping into our lower brain's desire for pleasure in one form or another.

The truth is that what you think is fun, you want to do more of it.  The problem is that often what we do as accountants and moms isn’t fun or pleasurable.

The good thing is that the perception that something is fun or pleasurable is an optional interpretation.  In other words, something isn’t fun or pleasurable by definition; it’s described that way because of how we think about it.

Consider how many people love video games, cooking, reading, or going to the gym and how many people can’t stand doing those things.  None of them are inherently pleasurable or not; it’s the way we choose to think about them that makes them seem that way to us.

As a working mom, you probably think that most of the things that get done you don’t consider fun or pleasurable.  But think about how you show up to get things done that you don’t find pleasurable and fun compared to the things you do.

This pillar to getting anything done isn’t about trying to convince yourself that something is pleasurable and fun; it’s about being willing to look for ways to make it a little more pleasurable and fun so that your brain gets on board with getting it done.  Over time, you’ll be amazed at how much easier those things become and how much more you can get done.

The best part is that once you’ve done something enough, that part of The Motivational Triad that likes to expend as little energy as possible will interpret the repetitiveness of doing the thing as pleasurable.  Once something becomes routine, your brain decreases the resistance it has to get it done. 

If you think about it, what you consider fun and pleasurable has already evolved in your own life.  Think about when you were in your 20s and sitting home on a Friday night was torture; now, it’s often the highlight of a busy work week for a working mom.

Or think about how you used to complain about your mom making you eat a particular food that you now enjoy.  The point is that you always have the ability to make something fun and pleasurable when you decide to think of it that way.

 

Pillar #3 – Usefulness

When it comes to getting things done, the interesting thing is that we believe that if we write it down on a to-do list, it must be something we believe is useful to get done.  It might sound pretty simple, but I promise you, it’s extremely helpful first to get clear about whether you think it’s useful to get something done or not.  

The truth is that if you don’t think it’s useful, how you show up will be completely different than if you do.  When you don’t think something is useful to get done, you’ll bring a “What’s the point?” attitude to trying to get it done.

The best part about this pillar is that nothing is inherently “useful,” just like nothing is intrinsically fun until your brain decides it is. If you think about it, what makes something useful or not?  We decide that it is.  

That means you can always think on purpose that getting something done IS useful, which brings a different energy and attitude to getting it done, even if it means you might fail at it.  I know that can be challenging, especially for accountants, but finding the usefulness in failing at something creates an incredible momentum to get anything done.

So if you want to get anything done, decide that it’s useful, even if it means you might fail at it.  When you’re feeling resistant to getting something done, a good question is, “Will this help me get where I want to go or not?”  

When you are able to see failing as useful, you are directing your brain to look for the lessons.  The best part is that your brain will always find proof of what you believe, making it much easier to show up to get anything done.  

So now that I’ve shared the 3 pillars you need to address in order to get anything done – belief in your ability, fun and pleasure, and usefulness – I’m going to share 3 simple steps you can use to get anything done.

 

3 simple steps

As you listened to those 3 pillars, you may have already recognized that you utilize some, if not all, when you’re trying to get things done.  I know I use all 3, especially at the busiest times at work by making sure I manage what my brain believes I can and cannot do, by deciding to make things fun whenever possible, and by making sure I see the big picture and the usefulness of whatever I’m trying to get done.

The simplest way to integrate the 3 pillars to get anything done is to take the following 3 steps:

Step #1 – Pick something you want to get done. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Just choose one thing on your to-do list.

Step #2 – Ask yourself the following questions and rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the highest- “What’s my belief, right now, about my skill and ability?”, “Do I believe this is going to be fun or pleasurable to get done?”, and “Do I believe in the usefulness of getting it done?”  Now that you’ve rated yourself on those 3 questions, what result would you get if you attempted to get it done based on where you’re at right now?  If your rating is low, move to Step #3.

Step #3 – This is where all your power is to get anything done because you will use your brain to improve your rating in each of the 3 pillars.  In this step, I suggest you redirect your brain on purpose by asking the right questions.  Be curious.  Be open to seeing things differently by asking the following:

 

  1. What skills and abilities do I already have that will help me get this done?  You’ve got tools in your toolbox that you may not have considered.  What are they?
  2. How can I make this fun?  What would make this more pleasurable?  Playing music?  Giving yourself a reward once it’s done?  What would make it more fun and pleasurable?
  3. What’s already useful about this?  You want to ask it this way because you want your brain to be on board with it already being useful.  You don’t wait for its usefulness to be discovered; you decide it already is and let your brain look for proof of that.

 

So let me give you a quick example of how I’ve used these 3 steps.  I decided over a year ago to write my book, The Smarter Accountant.  Here’s how I used the 3 steps:

 

  • Step #1 – Pick something you want to get done – I set a goal to have the book written and published in 365 days.
  • Step #2 – Rate yourself on the 3 questions related to the 3 pillars – belief in myself, pleasurable and fun, and usefulness.  When I questioned my belief about my skill and ability, I rated a 5; when I questioned whether I believed it would be fun or pleasurable to get done, I rated a 7; when I questioned my belief in the usefulness of getting it done, I rated a 6.
  • Step #3 –  Use my brain to improve my rating – When I questioned what skills and abilities I already had to help me write the book I realized that writing the show notes for this podcast was like writing a chapter a week for the past 4 years; when I questioned how I could make writing the book more fun and pleasurable I decided that celebrating each chapter with a friend would make it more enjoyable; when I questioned what’s already useful about writing a book I decided that every accountant needs to learn what I teach about eliminating stress, creating more time, gaining a competitive advantage, and more.  I envisioned this book creating a powerful shift in the way accountants deal with their work and their lives. 

 

Hopefully, you now have some clarity about how to get anything done.  The best way to get anything done is to get your brain on board because it can be your greatest ally.

How you choose to direct your brain will make it much easier to get anything done.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s at work or home; following the 3 pillars and the 3 simple steps will help you be more productive and achieve many more results.

 


Summary  

 

  • The interesting thing about our desire to get things done is that we’ve become a society obsessed with productivity and efficiency, yet we all feel like we’re hamsters on a wheel that isn’t getting anywhere.  
  • Even with all the information we have at our fingertips, we still haven’t quite figured out how to make it simple to get anything done.
  • When you add the pressures of our profession to the fact that you’re also a mom, I think it’s crucial to understand how to get things done.