There is only one thing you need to do to get things done, either today or tomorrow. DO it. As it was so aptly put over at Life Optimizer (in What is the Key to Productivity?), “Actually do what you need to do.”
That may seem utterly obvious. It is.
It may seem totally easy. It’s not.
If it was simply a matter of our bodies completing an action, I think a lot more would get done. Unfortunately, our brains get in the ways. Fears, anxieties, procrastination, what-ifs all crowd in to block our instructions to our bodies to do whatever it is that needs doing.
It is often far easier to do the support work than to do the actual work that will complete the task. “I will get started on the novel when I have all the tasks in the PDA” or “I will file the three years of filing when I get all the files labeled exactly right.” But the excuses don’t get you any closer to completing the task because although you may have convinced yourself you are working on it, you are merely working on the busywork that you have associated with the task.
The trick is to identify what is the primary work of each thing you want to complete. It’s not as hard as it may sound: for instance, if you want to write a novel, the main work of the task is to write the novel. Creating outlines, character cards, researching locations are all secondary.
I often get caught up in the secondary tasks — to the point that I don’t accomplish anything on tasks that I have identified as my “Most Important Tasks” (those that will move me toward my goals or have the highest payback). Currently I am struggling with identifying these tasks so that I move on them consistently; however, I have not come up with an approach that works well for me. But for right now, the step forward is that I am aware of what is going on, and more reluctant to get caught up in busy work.