10 clichés that help you get sh** done
Business articles tell you to avoid “corporate BS,” books on writing tell you to avoid clichés like the plague, and my favorite gurus, Strunk & White, advise us to “use figures of speech sparingly.”
But when it comes to personal productivity, I find clichés to be a snappy, inspirational, and memorable way to get motivated and get sh** done.
When you find a cliché that works for you, turn it into your mantra! Chant it under your breath or put it on a sticky note on your desk for the kick in the pants you need.
Here are some that I find particularly inspiring...
1. Nip it in the bud
No one likes a death spiral except when it’s done in Olympic figure skating.
Whether it’s an emotional downward trend or an expanding mess in your kids’ playroom, putting a stop to it before it gets worse will save you oodles of angst and time down the road.
Grit your teeth and take the smallest step necessary to begin to get the situation under control. You’ll feel better and you may just be inspire to take the second step, and the third, and the fourth...
2. Don't reinvent the wheel
You know what’s great about the Internet? If you want to figure out how to post a video to YouTube or can’t find the perfect gift for your teenage niece, someone out there has already done it for you!
There’s no shame in relying on others for tips, tricks, suggestions, reviews, and templates — as long as you’re not stealing someone else’s intellectual property.
When I started my business I was paralyzed by the thought of creating a content calendar for my website. I tried creating several of my own in Google Sheets, wasted a lot of time, and ended up feeling like a failure.
Finally I did an Internet search and came across an app called Airtable, where I found a complete sample calendar that I could duplicate and populate with my own information.
This boosted my confidence in my ability to do it, and also helped me save hours of time.
3. Don’t spin your wheels
When you’re in a state of the aforementioned analysis paralysis, you can find yourself spending way too much time analyzing, doubting, trying different options…and suddenly you’ve lost 6 hours of your precious time. Time you could have spent paying bills, folding clothes… or even better, playing with your kids, reading a book, or planning your next vacation.
4. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good
This might be my favorite cliché of all time, because it speaks to one of my fatal flaws.
I had a lot of great managers over the years who gave me lots of great advice, but Greg honed in on this trait of mine and gave me the best advice ever: set my perfectionism aside and just get it done.
A kissing cousin to “good is good enough,” this cliché reminds me regularly that my high standards (relative to others’ standards or the requirements of the task at hand) are usually overkill.
Putting in just enough effort to generate work that is not perfect but is perfectly adequate helps you save time and lets you move on to the next important thing.
5. Don't boil the ocean
In my previous life, I worked on large-scale technology projects like developing a CRM for a sales force of almost 2000 people and consolidating 6000 websites into just a few. These were complex projects with thousands of moving parts and it was easy to get distracted by shiny new problems.
One of my other managers, Meg , used to use this phrase when we started going down a rabbit hole of “wouldn’t it be great if we…” exploration. The more people in the room, the more problems we’d come up with that needed solving. Time and money would start circling down the drain.
She regularly reeled our team in and reminded to focus on the goal so we didn’t expend more resources than we needed to accomplish it.
6. Get your juices flowing
Now I don’t know what kind of juices they’re talking about here, but you know once those juices are flowing, it’s hard to stop them.
This cliché is chock full of motivation, encouraging you to get started and ride that wave… of juices??... to keep moving forward.
7. Get over the hump
Writer’s block, gray skies, a setback at work, a declined invitation to your party...all of these things can plunk down a giant speed bump in front of your motivation and productivity.
It’s important to keep in mind that the road is full of bumps... and even hills and valleys. You’ve hit bumps before and gotten over them, and eventually you’ll get over this one and zoom back up to the top of your game.
All you have to do is...
8. Grab some low-hanging fruit
Sometimes all it takes to get your juices flowing or get over the hump is to attack one or two small tasks that you can complete in under 5 minutes. Here are some suggestions:
- Sit down at your desk and pay the electric bill
- Make your bed
- Wipe down the kitchen counter
- Respond to the invite
- Make the doctor’s appointment
No matter how small the goal, achieving it will give you a sense of accomplishment, boost your confidence, and encourage you to keep going. Once the train has left the station, it’ll be full steam ahead.
(Side note: This is also a great way to tackle debt! Read about Dave Ramsey’s Snowball Plan here.)
9. Cut yourself some slack
Sometimes you just. Can’t. Even.
It’s OK. Go for a drive, watch a movie, drink a glass of wine, have lunch with a friend, hide under the covers...do whatever it takes to take your mind off whatever you're avoiding.
Take the advice you’d give your best friend: “Be gentle with yourself.”
Beating yourself up over your lack of productivity is not going to make you any more productive.
In most cases, you can always do that thing tomorrow. Then when tomorrow comes...
10. Just do it
Finally, the mother of all advertising slogans and motivational quotes, less cringy than “Like a Band-Aid...just rip it off,” and my own personal mantra — “Just do it” needs no explanation.
When you’re too tired to go to the gym, when you’re dreading having that difficult conversation, when you’re overwhelmed at the enormity of a project… grit your teeth, chant this phrase like a mantra, and JUST DO IT.
And just like that, you’ve gotten some sh** done!