Get Things Done By Doing the Minimum

Alex Greenwood
2 min readDec 8, 2020
Pick a path. Photo credit: 2013 J. Alexander Greenwood. All rights reserved.

Ever get stuck? Hit high center? You can’t make a decision, so you remain paralyzed?

Nah. me neither. (Kidding.)

It happens to me every now and then. I get into a funk because my results aren’t so great, or my creativity seems to have taken a vacation without me and I end up paying the airfare anyway. So, I remain frozen, making no decision. Inertia takes over. I just stand there, numerous paths ahead of me, unable to make a move.

Whether it’s making a decision about expanding my business, installing that new remote car starter, or making a decision about client strategy–I’ve been there, standing at the crossroads.

Seth Godin says (I’m paraphrasing) you’re no good to anybody if you can’t make a decision. If you can’t commit to ship (his word for getting work done and turned in–in effect, being decisive.):

You — everyone in fact — have all it takes to be a brilliant designer, creator, or author. All that’s holding you back is the lizard. It’s that little voice in the back of your head, the “but” or the “what if” that speaks up at the crucial moment and defeats the joy and insight you brought to the project in the first place. It’s the lizard that ruins your career, stunts your projects, and hinders your organization.

He elaborates on “tricks” you can use to get past this state of inertia. Read his book if you want to know more.

However, free of charge, I’ll offer you my solution. The minimum.

If you’re stuck–can’t make a decision, paralyzed, frozen…here’s what I recommend: make a deal with yourself the night before your next day at work.

Look in the mirror and tell yourself

“Tomorrow all you have to do are these three things…”

What those things are doesn’t matter. It could be “I’ll walk/jog/run two miles,” or “I’ll do the dishes” or “I’ll write one hundred words then I can quit” or “I’ll make one cold call.” Whatever the three things are–no matter how small–I guarantee you’ll be amazed at your productivity once you realize you can, indeed, achieve something.

My third novel was like that. I was stuck after writing the first three chapters. I waited for a few weeks and became more and more frustrated. Finally, I quit putting it off and told myself I would write a minimum of 100 words a day. Well, once I hit 100 words on most days I kept on writing. I soon averaged from 1000 to 1500. The draft was finished in a month.

So try it. Baby steps.

Achieve those small things, and you may just find the big things take care of themselves.

Alex Greenwood

PR Consultant, Speaker, Podcast Producer/Host, Editor, and Award-Winning Writer of the John Pilate Mystery Series. Accomplished belly laugher.