Execution: The Art of Getting Things Done

Mark Tidsworth, President, PLA

Every year, as Spring rolls into Summer, I visualize this vast expanse of available time, just waiting for me to fill it with those projects put off in the busy Springtime. And then, every year, I realize again that Summer is fleeting – just like time is the other three seasons. In addition, the projects I put off in the Springtime are all task oriented projects, involving details, charts, and outlines. I much rather create new initiatives, interact with people, or do a training than sit at my desk and crank out the project work.

From doing Peoplemap Personality Inventories far and wide, I realize there are clergy with strong Task Type Personalities, skilled at completing detailed projects (decently and in order). Yet, I also know I am not one of them, nor are many other clergy and church staff persons. So for many of us, execution is a major challenge. Many of us are visionary, or people oriented, or innovative. These are great assets, but unless they are channeled through wise discipline, we will not accomplish much.

Given my struggles with execution, and those of many Leadership Coaching clients, here are some hints to help us practice the art of getting things done.

Realize the tasks waiting for you are not as large and difficult as they appear to be
When you are not a Task-oriented personality type, completing tasks is your Achilles heel. Thus one puts off completion…all the while the task itself grows to gargantuan proportions in our minds. What is really a 20 minute job, appears to be a 3 hour task. Realize that most tasks are smaller than the dread in your heart says they are.

Connect the task to a higher level goal, thereby harnessing your passion and motivation
Leader types want the mission to be accomplished. People types want to build community and networks. Free Spirit types want to creatively innovate, discovering new solutions. Know yourself – especially your personality type. Connect what is really important to you with the task at hand. Knowing completing this task will help your higher level goals advance can provide the motivation to get started and work to completion.

Lay aside the strategy of working on tasks when you feel like it
If you are not a Task type, and your strategy is to do the tasks when you feel like, guess what? You will never feel like it (or rarely). Instead, give up this undisciplined way of working. Decide, commit, do. How you feel about it is irrelevant to getting started. The feelings come into play afterwards….feeling satisfied with a job well done. That’s the feeling you want.

Identify your reward list, and then use them for reinforcement each time you complete a task
We are talking simple, low-level rewards here. Calling a friend, surfing the net, playing a game, going for a walk, visiting with a co-worker….these are simple rewards for solid effort applied to task completion.

Identify which task you despise the most, and do it first, removing it from your to list for today
Can you imagine the relief knowing that the rest of your day is freed from that particular task? Do it first, while you are fresh, and cross it off the list. Rather than go through the day putting it off and dreading it, you will free yourself to freely embrace your other activities of the day.

Commit to a certain amount of time investing in task work each day
Many writers work this way. They apply the seat of their pants to the seat of the chair for a certain amount of time each day. The result is that they actually write. Task completion is the same way. Commit to an hour, or two, or a half hour…and then sit there and do it. This is called execution.

Visualize how good you will feel when these tasks are completed
This strategy helps goal and feeling oriented people complete tasks. Mentally fast forward to the end result, relishing the relief, satisfaction, and outcomes of completion. Then come back to the present and literally work yourself to that place. Watch your motivation rise.

May we become excellent artists – professionals who excel in the art of getting things done.

~Mark

To learn more about PeopleMap and how it can strengthen your organization, contact Mark at markt@pinnaclelead.com or 803-673-3634.
Helen