Simple Ideas for Executing Better Right Now

For 3 years, I worked with a phenomenal group of people in various departments at my former company.

One group I particularly learned a lot from was the Project Management team. We frequently came to them with quick-turnaround projects, asking for help in putting together plans to get from point H to point Y. (that’s “Hell No” to “Yes” if you’re curious).

They would pull up their fancy PM software and (in some cases) laminated schedules, yell at us for a while and then calmly tell us, “you’re insane, but we can handle it”.

One of their secrets was having already mapped out a detailed, inch-by-inch plan with a timetable for almost any project that might come up.

But since in the advertising world, you rarely (if ever) are fortunate enough to work against a reasonable timeline, they would shift around some details, bribe the design teams and hold everyone accountable the rest of the way.

Hats off to them for always being awesome.

It got me to thinking about the art of getting shit done. (Cool Mug in this Link)

Planning is cool. But ninety-seven times out of a hundred, your step-by-step plans will fail. There are just too many variables outside of your control. Mainly, other people that don’t play by the same rules.

If you’re working with anyone else besides just yourself, your plans WILL fail.

Hell, even when you’re working by yourself, your plans will STILL fail. (probably).

“Everyone has a plan, till they get punched in the mouth” — Mike Tyson

process that’s worked out pretty well.

Focus on the key milestones. Make an outline. Pair it with a checklist. Hold yourself accountable to the important dates. My PM friends can tell me if I’m just blowing smoke.

These are some other tips for executing like a boss right now with whatever you’re working on.

Under Promise & Over Deliver

The first thing I learned from a fellow account management buddy of mine when I first started was to under promise and over deliver. When you do that, everyone’s happy because their expectations are like baby bunnies -small and even-tempered.

You can manage expectations and still get a lot done. Instead of approaching the day like an “everything must go” sale, maybe consider something like this:

  • Plan to do three big things per day — your taxes, write a page of a novel, hit the gym
  • Plan to do six little things per day — pay this bill, do those dishes, etc.

Chances are you’ll surpass your own expectations and work beyond that anyway. But if you don’t, you did what you set out to do.

Tim Ferriss has a more specific and robust plan that’s worth reading if you’re neurotic like Tim.

Add Buffer Time

You might suck at time management (unless you’re a PM). I did for most of my life. Thanks for the kick start corporate America!

Even now I’m not perfect, so I have this trick to hedge against short breaks that turn into unforeseen House of Cards binge watching sessions.

It goes like this:

For every task, if you’ve done it before, take the total time for completion and add 50% to it.

For every task you’ve never done before, make an educated guess about the time for completion and then double it.

That’s about how long it will actually take.

Start Early in the Day

According to life-hacker and quirky smart guy James Altucher, “we are only at peak productivity two to five hours after we wake up”.

I trust him, but I’ll find the science backing that up and share it with you later.

That just means to knock out the important stuff first. Save the BS for later. The BS is always tempting though. So watch out.

Note: Important tasks include working out!

Work Out

Which leads me to the importance of working out. Duh!

Here’s something you might not know about health and fitness, though.

“Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change”.

Charles Duhigg describes keystone habits as “…the habits that matter most…”. Once they get ingrained, they start to trickle down their positive effects on other aspects of our lives.

Working out leads to eating healthier, which leads to taking your shirt off more, which leads to feeling more confident, which typically leads to more make-out sessions if that’s what you’re into.

So yeah, there’s that.

Get Comfortable with Good Enough

When you’ve gotten something done for the day, it’s okay to give yourself a pat on the back, leave the office and go to sleep. There’s no need to keep adding things to your list of tips for getting things done.

Just be proud and move on to the next thing to start executing on.

Tomorrow is another day.

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