Yesterday I was at Steeplechase and a friend of mine asked me “how do you get so much shit done?!?!?” I don’t think about it that often, it’s just sort of how I’m wired… but I do take pride in being productive and prolific. I think a lot of that is at the heart of the message I’m trying to spread. But that question drove a little introspection, and I’d like to share exactly how I do get a lot of stuff done. And no, I’m not going to say “Partner Up”. I know I say that a lot, but this is just about how I (or you) as an individual gets a lot done.

This is a three parter. Part I today, Part II next Sunday and so on.

From 2000 – 2007, I was not an entrepreneur, I was a software programmer. During that time, my mind was tuned to two ideals: Quality and Efficiency. There was always a challenge to achieve what I would call an acceptable level of either, and so it was what occupied my mind most working days. Now in project management, there is something known as the Iron Triangle. It comes in many flavors, but it’s basically made up of the following three things: Time (meaning deadline), Scope (meaning everything we are trying to get done) and Resources (which usually means people working on something, but can mean other resources as well).

Whenever you set out to do a project, your Iron Triangle has to be aligned. You can’t try to do a project of serious scope without the right number of resources and enough time. If you can’t increase your resources or you can’t push out your deadline, then you need to adjust your scope. Pretty simple.

What I realized recently is that people who don’t understand this Iron Triangle negotiation process get really paralyzed by the challenge of making all these things fit. This stops people in their tracks from doing anything efficiently because they are wringing their hands about the impossibility of making it all fit. This happens ALL THE TIME.

Getting stuff done is about project management, even personal projects. Even strings of tasks. If you can’t negotiate time, scope and resources, you can’t even start. A big part of getting it done is starting. Get where I’m going here?

I think years of software engineering taught me that I was never going to create a perfect piece of software. Emma wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to become a multi-million dollar business. We did the best we could with the time and resources we had. I’ve carried this thought process through in just about everything I’ve done since, and it is a big part of how I get things done.

Look forward to sharing the next trick, next week.

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