How to Get Things Done? Harness the Power of Three

How to get things done: finish

How to get things done is on the mind of almost every client I've worked with. Not just a lot of make-work-stuff, but bringing the things that truly make a difference to completion. Here's one proven and practical way to do that.

As you look at your week ahead, choose the three action items that when completed will make the most significant impact on moving your goals forward. Plan to work on these three items without interruption as often as possible throughout the week. Let these three action items guide you as you plan for each individual day.

Begin with the most important of the three. Block out all other interruptions and distractions. Work until it is completed or until it is on hold for further information or action from another source. Do not get sidetracked from your focus on this one project. When completed, move on to number two.

By doing this you will bring significant projects to completion faster than the majority of the people around you.

"You normally don't have to look hard for specific performance challenges that ready people can tackle. Sometimes these are low-hanging fruit – challenges so easy that you can expect early wins. Sometimes the most pressing performance gaps are more obvious than easy."  

Douglas Smith, Taking Charge of Change

Five Days of Coaching on How to Get Things Done


Today, make a list of the three most important action items you could work on in the upcoming week that will make the biggest difference when completed. Don't necessarily choose the projects that are crying loudest for your attention but the real priorities that count.

The Coach asks:

  • As you look ahead to your week, what three action items will make the biggest difference moving forward? How did you determine this?
  • How have you traditionally done at advancing those things that were of most importance to you? 
  • Think about what causes you to work on things that take up most of your time? There may be valid reasons. On the other hand, there may be room for a lot of improvement.
  • On reflection, what kinds of things did you spend time on over the last week that really didn't accomplish much, or were downright time wasters? 


Starting today, work on project number one through to completion. Let everything else but the essentials wait. Finish number one and move on to two and three.  Only allow yourself to put the task on hold and move on to the next one if you have to wait for more information or someone else's input.

The Coach asks:

  • Take the three action items from yesterday that will make the biggest difference. Clear out 90 minutes to work uninterrupted on the first item? 
  • If the first item isn't yet completed, when can you create another block of time to work on it uninterrupted? 
  • How will you protect this "high-focus" time, so that it is regularly available to you? 
  • What benefits have you noticed from spending uninterrupted time on your task?    


You are being very focused and effective. Picture your project or task completed. Stick with it and keep momentum. If it involves others, make sure they are clear about their roles and have taken ownership of  completion. Align both people and resources to completion.

The Coach asks:

  • Who else might be involved in you making high-focus uninterrupted time a habit? What do they need to know? Do? Not do?
  • What have your past habits taught others around you about how to get things done? 
  • How can you bring together (align) individuals and resources to make your high-focus time work the most effectively? 
  • Keep at it. Nail this down and you will achieve more of the things that make a difference, with greater focus and satisfaction. 


Imagine concluding your projects earlier than would normally be expected, which is likely if you are following the power of three. By following this approach you are freeing up space for your mind to work only on what is before you. It's not cluttered with shoulds, musts, delays and interruptions.

The Coach asks:

  • Imagine yourself bringing tasks and projects in well ahead of what has been your normal experience? What could that allow you to do? 
  • If your brain were less "cluttered" with the "swirl of the everyday," how might that affect your attitude? What do you think others might then notice about you? 
  • The shift from "stuff" controlling you to you controlling "stuff" can be significant. In the big experience of your life, what difference is this making?
  • Shoulds, musts, delays and interruptions are NOT how to get things done. Take a stand against allowing any of these to sidetrack your Power of Three. Of course, things happen that sometimes can't be helped. But we're not talking about that here. It's that larger 80% that IS within your control. 


Celebrate wins. Celebration tells your brain, “we did it!” and proves to yourself that future successes in this area are as attainable as this current success.

The Coach asks:

  • A "win" gives a real boost in your brain. A series of them begin to establish a pattern of reward for your diligence and effort. How can you celebrate bringing an important task to completion, and set yourself up for future wins? 
  • Think about how much time you have actually carved out this week to work on the really important things, the things that make the biggest difference moving forward. 
  • How much more of this do you want? What will you still do to make it happen and establish this new pattern? 

Spiritual Reflection for Christian Leaders

Gary Wood Christian Executive Leadership Coach

As a Christian Executive Leadership Coach I encourage Christian leaders to reflect on God's Word to add to their wisdom.

  • Lk 10:41,42  ... you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed, or indeed only one.
  • 2 Tim 4:1,2 ... I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage, with great patience and careful instruction.
  • Lam 2:17  The Lord has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago. 
  • 1 Cor 9:24  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
  • Is 46:11  What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. 
  • Neh 4:6; 6:15  So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. ... So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. 

If you are a leader, executive, or senior level professional looking to work with a Christian Executive Coach, I invite you to connect with me here.

If appropriate, we can meet by phone or Zoom to discuss your situation.

Record Your Progress

This is your opportunity to track your progress. Start by asking yourself how important this practice is to you? Record the importance as - not at all, somewhat, fairly, highly or extremely. 

Now next to it ask yourself how well you carry out this practice. Record your performance as - very poor, poor, okay, good or very good. 

Importance Performance Check

The things we track, we pay attention to. Across time, come back and record your new results. You will find that as you are intentional about making improvements, you will bump your "score" up higher. 

This is significant. Don't miss the opportunity to acknowledge your success, and use it as a springboard for making even further gain. 


Carving out "high-focus time" hasn't been easy for many clients ... BUT, they have managed to do it. Years of doing the same old thing, yielding to interruptions and distractions and non-difference-making tasks doesn't let go easily.

Executive Assistants have proven invaluable. They can guard your time.

In the absence of a gate-keeper, clearly stated boundaries and consistency in enforcing them is important. It might take a while because people are used to interrupting you, but they'll get used to respecting your high focus time if you remain adamant about using it. 

If you've been struggling with how to get things done, you may need to "clear your desk." Distractions don't help. Eliminate them. And practice the power of three with intention and persistence.

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