A swamped desk, a never-ending list of tasks, and the sheer inability to complete – or manage – even one task.
Many entrepreneurs – including myself – are familiar with this chaotic scenario. When you’re juggling multiple projects simultaneously, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by competing priorities. But what if there was a way to simply get things done?
I recently spoke to focus and accountability coach Arif Vakil. Over the past few years, he has helped many distracted and busy entrepreneurs achieve their most ambitious goals.
You can hear our full conversation on the Goals Do Come True podcast. In this blog, I’ll be sharing the exact methodology Arif uses to help his clients dispel the chaos in their heads and move towards their goals.
Getting things done®
Arif’s journey towards productivity started over twenty years ago when he joined his family’s business and found himself constantly struggling to put out fires. He began to search for a solution and eventually stumbled upon a video that would forever change the course of his life and career…
Arif: “Amidst the tables piled high with paper, I figured there had to be a better way to do this. How can I set systems and processes? How can I get my desk in order? And I came across a video of David Allen talking about this methodology called Getting Things Done®. I tried it out for myself, and it helped me immensely. I went from being stressed and anxious to becoming calm, focused, and in control. Ultimately, I was able to streamline things within my company.”
If you struggle with prioritising and managing your day-to-day tasks, chances are that you’ve probably heard the phrase, Getting Things Done® thrown around in self-help spaces and webinars.
But what does this methodology actually mean? And how can it help you apply order to chaos? Arif aptly breaks down this five-step system created by productivity consultant David Allen:
According to Arif, we often end up feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious when we operate from a cluttered headspace. That’s why the very first step to getting things done involves clearing our minds – moving some of that clutter into an external system.
Arif:“When we coach individuals – either clients or people who attend our workshops – we ask them to put everything out there. The goal is to operate from what we call ‘mind like water’, where everything is out of your head and there’s absolutely nothing in there. It does take a little bit of practise and may take a really long time when you first try it, but it’s a powerful step in the right direction.”
Arif: “The next step is to clarify everything you’ve captured. What does your end outcome look like? And what’s the next thing you need to do to get there? Do you need to make a phone call or send an email? Clarify all of these, and you’ll have a clear direction.”
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs and podcasts, breaking down your big, audacious goals into small, actionable components is an incredibly powerful way to drive progress. Not only does this clearly define your next steps, but it also helps you tackle your goals more efficiently. It’s a win-win!
Arif: “Put everything into a system that you trust. It could be a notepad or any software tool – it doesn’t matter as long as it’s a trusted system.”
I wanted to find out more about Arif’s “trusted systems” and tools for enhancing productivity. As it turns out, it’s less about the tools themselves and more about how you wield them to streamline your day-to-day tasks.
Arif: “ The free go-to tool I often recommend for people is Microsoft’s To Do list. However, you can use any tool you want as long as it allows you to create ordered lists. Naturally, you want to create four neatly organised lists.
The first one is a list of all the next actions you need to take. The second is a list of all the projects you need to complete. The third list should contain all the things you’re waiting on. Are there any tasks you’ve delegated that people are yet to get back on? Things that could blow up on you if you don’t keep track of them?
Finally, in addition to all these, you should also have a diary or a calendar.”
I’m a big believer in compartmentalising and organising my numerous projects. It’s one of the easiest ways to avoid overwhelm and keep yourself from going way off track like many business owners do.
However, reflecting on your progress and the journey ahead is even more crucial.
This stage involves taking a step back, assessing your list, and determining what next you need to engage with. While it might be tempting to just forge ahead so you don’t lose the traction you’ve garnered, regular reviews and reassessments will help you stay on track and maintain focus and control.
Arif describes this step in one simple sentence: “You decide to do.”
With the trusted system you’ve built in steps one through four, you’ll be able to know the right thing to do at any given time and make these decisions with confidence and clarity.
Which of these five steps calls out to you? I particularly like the second one: clarify. It’s impossible to reach your goal unless you’re sure of the very next physical action you need to take to move towards the finish line. In many cases, it’s helpful to work backwards from your goals in order to clearly define your next steps.
Is this something you’re willing to try? I’d love to hear about it!Drop me a line at email@example.com, and if you’d like a weekly dose of inspiration, join The Wealth Tribe, my Facebook Group, where we share our daily goals with each other to garner accountability.