Trick Yourself into Getting Shit Done

How to actually finish what you start

Mohana Das
4 min readSep 15, 2020
Design vector created by pikisuperstar

Some people are born with patience, some learn it the hard way. I’m the latter.

When I was younger, I found myself desperately scrambling to do a million things, and not being able to finish a single one of them.

I wanted to read a ton of books, write a best-selling novel, master playing the Moonlight Sonata, hit the gym and have a social life — all in the same day.

Ambitious? Yes. Practical? Not really.

I also wanted instant results. For example, I’d buy a new face mask, use it once and expect flawless skin overnight.

Finally, at 28, I’ve managed to learn how to balance my obsessiveness, resist the urge to take shortcuts and battle against distractions.

1 · Define your Goals 🎯

Don’t listen to the random, floating bubbles in your head. Turn them into concrete, achievable goals.

If the bubble in your head says “I want to be a writer” turn that into something like “I will write 5 pages every week.”

Actionable, tangible, loads of potential.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

2 · Use Visual Aids 📌

I love lists. Most often, the act of physically noting something down helps to solidify the significance of the task. My favourite tools of the trade are:

  • Pen & paper — undoubtedly the best
  • Post-its
  • Google Keep
  • Your phone’s Calendar

And that’s pretty much all you need. The trick is to note something down the moment it flashes across your mind — be it a fleeting thought, an idea, a task which you need to complete.

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Mix it up. Use notebooks or Google Keep for long-term goals and ideas, post-its for immediate tasks, calendars for reminders or managing deadlines.

Lastly, put everything in a place where you’re most likely to see it everyday. Keep your mind clear, and your to-do list full.

3 · Fight the FOMO 🤹‍♀️

Usually, people want to do so many things — and end up doing nothing. This is probably the biggest problem I’ve faced personally. A lot of blogs and videos advise you to perform bite-sized tasks everyday.

A schedule which follows that would look something like this:

This looks exhausting.

STOP. You’re doing too much.

Pick one thing — just one — and keep at it. If it’s studying Spanish — then do that for an hour or two a day. And that’s all. But make sure you do it.

4 · Set Realistic Deadlines 🗓

Again, don’t expect you’ll be able master learning Spanish in a month. Let’s get real here.

When you’re making an estimate for your goal, give it A LOT of breathing space. Because, believe it or not, life gets in the way.

Some days, you’re tired. You’re sick. You have a family, a social life, doctors’ appointments. You need breaks, you need to relax. Factor in these things when you’re setting your timelines.

Some days, you just want to lie in the sun (Photo by Katie Barrett on Unsplash)

Even if you want to get 5 things done by this weekend, cut it down to only 2 — but make sure you get those 2 things done.

5 · Forget about Results 🌱

Once you’ve finished your set up, it’s time to get around to the actual doing.

Now this is important — forget about the end result.

When I started practicing yoga, I could barely touch my toes. I did it everyday, giving no thought to what I wanted to achieve. One day, after 3 months, I suddenly realised I could touch my head to my knees!

Incremental progress is great, but it’s not enough to keep you motivated.

You’ve already set your timelines and reminders, you’ve broken down your tasks— everything is in place. So forget all about it, and just do your thing.

Hang in there. Come back in when the timer runs out, and reevaluate your progress. That’s when you’ll see it — you’ll see how far you’ve come.

Leave a comment and let me know if this worked for you. Good luck!