Why you aren’t getting things done and tips to change that

We all have a whole host of things that we want to get done. Whether immediate, short-term goals or long-term dreams for the future, many of us have at least a vague idea of things we’d like to achieve, but for every goal that we want to achieve, it can feel like there are at least five obstacles in our path. A heavy workload, family commitments, and being short on either time or motivation are the most common complaints.

Before we know it, time has passed and we are no closer to getting things done than we were when we first thought of them, but it is important not to be discouraged. Anyone can become distracted or find that they are not on the path towards achieving their dreams, but the most important thing is what you do next. How do you rectify your actions once you’ve identified that things are not getting done?

The first thing is a quick pat on the back for your own self-awareness. Often the trickiest step is even realising that things have gone off course and then acknowledging it honestly. The second (and continuing) steps are to put some new habits into place. There might be many reasons why we’re not getting things done, but there are a few that crop up time and again. Read on to discover why you might not be progressing and what to do about it.

You’re Not Managing Your Time Effectively

Haha – someone said this to me recently and I took offence. People seem busier than ever. Trying to balance work, family, and a social life seems more complicated than ever before. Add to that poor sleep or ineffective rest and you’ve got a seriously demotivated, go-nowhere situation. However, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. The chances are that you have far more time than you think you do. Some people may not managing their time as effectively as they could be. This might mean that you are frittering away extra hours by being in front of the television. Or it might mean that even when you undertake a task you are distracted. Checking social media and chatting with colleagues while trying to get something done can double the amount of time that a task should take! Get focused. Reduce your distractions and you will find that your productivity (and time) increases.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking some time for yourself on a daily basis, but set time limits. Also ensure that when you are resting, the rest is genuine. Sitting in front of the TV while still working or checking emails and so on is not effective rest. It is just further distraction. Effective rest might include a power nap or a walk in the fresh air to clear your head. The key to managing time effectively is to know exactly what needs to get done and then work on each task without distraction. Then you can fully enjoy your rest and sense of accomplishment anyway!

time management

You’re Not Setting Goals

Setting goals and making lists is one of the most common habits amongst successful and productive people. It makes perfect sense. How can you complete a task if you don’t even know it needs to be completed? Goals can be immediate or long term, mundane or ambitious. Think of ways that will categorise them effectively for you and then work a little at them every day. Daily goals might include simple to-do lists at work, dental appointments, or when to pick up the children for example, but more ambitious to do lists might have to do with future dreams or projects. Saving for a holiday or researching starting up a business, for example. Perhaps you want to make a weekly goal out of these so that you are always working towards them, even in small steps.

Friday might be the day you pay something into your savings account, for example. Or Saturday afternoons might be when you work on your small business research. Make lists and have them in visible places. Check back regularly to stay on course and to get that great feeling when you can tick things off. Another way to stay accountable is to tell people that you trust and respect about your goals. That way, they may ask you regularly about progress and you will work harder so that you have something to report. There is no need to share information with people that you expect to be negative or doubtful, but letting a friend or family member into some aspect of your goals can hold you more accountable.

You’re Not Acting Quickly

Procrastination is the enemy of getting things done. Many tasks might need a bit of time to research, prepare, and then undertake, but genuine procrastination prevents someone from undertaking tasks that can even be completed immediately. It can manifest in many ways. Some people may feel tired and sluggish simply at the thought of a task. Others may distract themselves or deliberately avoid the task. The key is to identify what you need to complete the task and then act quickly. You might need information, money, advice, or just a spare few minutes!

Whatever the components, try to assemble them quickly. The longer we wait to attempt a task, the more unappealing it seems to become. We might be intending to donate to a charity, write to a relative, or double-check a ppi calculator, but something stops us. They may not be urgent tasks but they are a valuable opportunity to create good habits. Solving problems and completing tasks as and when they arise is a very positive habit to cultivate.

You’re Not Asking For Help

Many of us attach a great significance to the idea of completing tasks alone, but the truth is that some of the most successful and notable people are very strong collaborators. If we have a lot to complete or goals to achieve, learning to ask for advice and accept criticism are two of the most positive things we can do. You might need expert advice or just a second opinion. You might need an extra pair of hands or some fresh insight. Whatever the reason, one of the main obstacles to getting things done can be that we insist on acting alone. If you’re not achieving a goal or completing a task, ask yourself if there is any help that would benefit you. Then act on it!


  1. great post – asking for help is something i always try to avoid which can be silly sometimes!

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