The Fastest, Easiest, Most Efficient Way to Get Stuff Done

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on July 01, 2010 in: Project Management, Time Management Strategies

Getting stuff done: Oh how business owners and freelancers everywhere love a to-do list that is completely crossed off! I know that I always sleep way more soundly at night when I’ve actually crossed everything off my day’s to-do list!

Each day, business owners face a variety of tasks to be done. Some are fun and easy, but not all of them are! There might be boring projects or very challenging projects, or projects that seem big and unwieldy. No matter what kind of project you face, the fastest, easiest, and most efficient way to get stuff done is when you…

Achieve critical mass quickly.

Critical mass is a term used in science to describe the amount of fissile material needed to sustain a nuclear reaction. For us non-science-types, it’s basically the amount of something you need initially in order to facilitate the creation of the rest of that thing.

Every project you do has a critical mass. It’s the amount of work that you expend at the beginning to bring the project to the point where you can coast a bit – where you can do the work quickly and easily (and even enjoyably) with a lot less effort than it took at the very beginning.

Each project will be different and everyone has a different idea of when they achieve critical mass on a project. But, every project does achieve critical mass at some point! I’ve found that e-books tend to achieve critical mass at the 50% point while blogs tend to achieve critical mass after the first or second paragraph. As I work with clients, I’ve found that some businesses (like coaching and freelancing that rely on the skills of the owner) achieve critical mass much faster than those businesses that rely on a lot of up-front development (like technical or web development). Even your day will hit a point of critical mass. If you start your day at 9 in the morning, you’ll likely hit critical mass at about 10am and sustain it through to about 2pm or 3pm when you start to slow down a bit.

Here’s why it matters to you:

The faster you achieve critical mass on something, the easier it will be to get that thing done. Find your peak work time when you’re most focused and energetic and start on a whole bunch of projects. Get critical mass as quickly as possible. (Yes, you might go back and have to revise something later during editing; that’s okay. The point is to get as far as you can as fast as you can). Once you’ve achieved critical mass, the rest of the project will go very quickly. If you want, have your assistant or colleague help you achieve critical mass on a project before passing it off to you to run with it.

Think of each of the projects you work on in the day. Over the next few days, figure out what the point of critical mass is for each project and work to achieve that. Critical mass achievement is a focused, creative, intense burst of effort that will result in the core of whatever you are trying to create. Later, you’ll add more but the effort will be faster and easier.

It’s like an airplane: It takes more fuel to get off the ground than it does to fly through the sky. Likewise, your projects will require a lot of fuel to get off the ground, too, but once it gets airborne, you’ll glide smoothly.

Good luck!

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