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I’ve long said that it’s not about doing things – it’s about doing the right things. But this thought doesn’t stop there.
You also have to work hard to do the right things, well, right.
Doing whatever it is you want to do right takes time, but that time is largely spent honing the craft of doing those things really well. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to get it right. Josh Kaufman says the first 20 hours spent are the most critical in the process.
Regardless, doing things right is not something that can happen overnight.
I’m pretty good at doing things right, but I’m also still learning. Sometimes I misjudge the time it will take to make things happen and deliver the goods. There are times that I think I’ve taken on just the right amount of projects and it turns out I’ve taken on too many. Sometimes things out of my control occur, such as getting sick. Those things take me off course and are unavoidable. They definitely make doing things right more challenging.
So how can you keep doing it right more often than not? Here are two things you can start doing today to send you down the right path.
1. Keep it Quiet
I’ve written about how I turn things down, but saying no isn’t the only thing you need to do in order make sure you stay on course and get the right things done well. I’ve made the mistake of announcing my intention to do something before being able to give it the proper attention – and that can have some real consequences. Last summer, I made an announcement that I’d have a new look and feel to my website, but I ran into a serious problem. Because of other things I had on my plate, I didn’t have the capacity to redesign my website at a level I would be proud of. By publicly stating I was going to unveil a new website design, I put myself in a position to ship instead of deliver, and that’s not what I want to do. Learn from my mistake and consider how much is on your plate before you add more to it.
I discuss more about this in a past appearance on Erik Fisher’s Beyond The To-Do list podcast, which you can check out here.
2. Get Outside Perspective
If you are not sure you’re hitting all the right notes with your work and your life, ask someone you trust. That person can be a partner, a close friend, or a trusted colleague. Just make sure you ask them to be honest with you and to offer up any constructive criticism they may have. One of my old managers at Costco used to say to me that if I came to him with a problem that I should also have a solution in mind. Ask your confidant to do the same. An outside eye can be a real asset that gives you perspective that you just can’t get yourself. Why? Generally it’s because you are just too close to the situation. Sometimes it’s because you’re not being completely honest with yourself. It may even be that you just don’t have the knowledge, skill set, or wisdom to be able to decipher the concerns fully.
An eye and ear from the outside can be a real asset in helping you do things better. You may even want to consider a coach to help you in this manner. If you’re interested in productivity coaching, I’m more than happy to help out.
I’ve learned through experience – as well as trial and error – what makes doing it right more the rule than the exception. There are many factors that play into this, but if you take the two mentioned above and work at tackling those, you’ll find that you’ll do it right a lot more often than not.