Why you’re not getting anything done


You work hard. You’re always busy. That long to-do of yours keeps growing every day. The projects you think are finished always come back for more. You never seem to be done with anything. Me neither. It doesn’t bother me, though, and it doesn’t have to bother you. In fact, I’d like to show you how you can be successful beyond imagination when you stop trying to get things done.

I’ve got lists of things I need complete at work, home, church, etc. It used to bother me when, no matter how much I got done, more work kept piling up. I felt like productivity was never leading to accomplishment. I tried prioritizationdelegation, and disconnecting. Each of these are valid approaches to productivity, and I employ all three on a daily basis. None of them, though, provide me with an empty to-do-list.

After struggling for years, I came to the realization that I was focused on the wrong goal. An empty to-do list is no holy grail. There is no prize to be won for having an empty plate. Getting things done, I learned, is not as important as we make it out to be. Here’s how I learned to be comfortable with unfinished business:

  • Do work that matters to people. This shifts the focus from the tasks to the relationships. When you make this change, you start working with purpose. Purposeful work should never be complete. Connecting to people, serving others and deepening relationships are all real accomplishments that never get crossed off the list. The to-do list is a selfish endeavor. Focus on others instead. You’ll never be done. There’s always more work to do. Find satisfaction in working with purpose every day.
  • Focus on being ready, instead of done. A successful project is one that has longevity and satisfied users. By definition, then, success makes more work. Delivering a product is just the beginning of a cycle of constant improvement. Customer feedback, market shifts, and technology changes combine to make the notion of “being done” ludicrous. The work you are doing today is preparing you for the work you’ll do tomorrow. Focus on being ready to capitalize on the next opportunity to delight customers. Be thankful that success comes from preparation, not completion.
  • Keep score along the way. When you’re secure in the fact that the best work never really gets done, that doesn’t always mean others will agree. We all have people in our lives who will hold us accountable to get things done. Keeping a journal of your accomplishments will help you communicate with others when you’re asked what you’ve worked on. It also works for me to look back from time-to-time. Reviewing my journal sheds light on the fact that, while building relationships and preparing for future successes, I actually got a lot done. See what I did there?

That’s how I changed my perspective on productivity. It’s made every day a little bit better, and life a lot more fulfilling. Are you ready to do the same?


An anchor in a sea of change


Every situation in life is subject to change. Economy, health, career, relationships… Just like the temperature in my home town, they can change dramatically from one day to the next. What helps me, and what I hope will help you, is maintaining a constant sense of self.

A constant sense of self is driven by identifying and adhering to consistent values. These values are at the core of your being, regardless of circumstance. Core values define who you are and drive how you behave. They draw a clear line between what you can control and what you can’t. And they help you separate behaviors from results, the journey from the destination.

I’ve spent the last several years developing my core values. I review them daily and use them as a checklist to make decisions of all sizes. When I learn of a change beyond my control, I look to my values to guide my reaction. When everything is running smoothly, I let my values drive changes and improvements in my personal and professional life.

Being a lifelong geek, I built an acronym out of my values. It’s not a requirement, but it sure helps in communicating them to myself and others. For me, FAITH is the foundation, so it made natural sense to build my values around it.

Focus. Time and attention are liquid assets and you can choose whether to spend or invest them. There will always be distractions and competing priorities, but valuing focus helps you invest in the activities that bring the most value to your life.

Accountability. Accountability always makes people think of consequences. That’s not how I see it. Accountability is a two-way street. In my decision-making process, it ensures that I’m thinking of impact to others. In relationships, it ensures that I am open about my expectations. I believe we’re all in this together, and I behave accordingly.

Investment. Think like an owner. As a value, investment helps me in two ways. In making decisions, I evaluate as if I’m taking ownership — is the return worth committing my time, attention, money? Once committed, investment helps keep me on track, willing to make sacrifices. Investment means that it’s never “just a job”.

Thankfulness. Realizing that life is a gift elicits a response of gratitude. Sometimes it’s easy to be thankful, other times it’s not. In times when appreciation is difficult to come by, truly valuing Thankfulness forces me to take pause and look for the good in any situation. The big picture always shows me the blessings I’ve received and I can’t help but respond with thanks.

Helpfulness. The great Zig Ziglar used to say “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Truer words have never been spoken. Putting others’ needs first is the mark of a leader and an example I try to set every day. For my children, my team, my friends and my community.

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.”
― Paulo CoelhoBrida

Focus… Accountability… Investment… Thankfulness… Helpfulness… F-A-I-T-H

There you have it. My core values are the ideal me. They are not one-size-fits all, but I hope they inspire you to examine your own and build healthy habits to reinforce them daily. Paying attention to what is truly important to you will keep you honest with yourself and provide you with clarity in uncertain times. If there’s one thing in this world that’s worth understanding, it’s you.