ENTREPRENEURSHIP | A Minimalist Approach to Getting Started and Getting Things Done

January 19, 2016

A Minimalist Approach to Getting Started and Getting Things Done | Are you feeling stuck, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to truly execute your big goals? Or do you have a million and one things to do, but no idea where to start? Then this minimalist approach to the to-do list may be just thing to help you get started (and finish!) your next project.  Something very interesting happened when I told myself 2016 was the year that I’d get things done.


Nothing happened at all.

I admit–it wasn’t exactly how I’d planned starting the New Year. But I was so bent on executing and afraid of over-planning that I stopped planning altogether and ended up not doing much of anything at all. On top of that, I’d been experiencing some general feelings of unhappiness and being stuck that were keeping me from wanting to do anything in the first place.

Fortunately, thanks to lots of prayer, I started writing again last week. The process has been slow-going, but I’m feeling inspired again and the desire to actually do things is coming back. When you’ve been lacking creativity for a while, one of the hardest things is getting started. If you’re not used to executing in general, getting started is scary. It’s overwhelming. It feels like such a huge lift, and I totally get it.

The same is true when you’re starting a new business and you feel like you have a million and one things to do, yet you have no idea which one is most important, or which one should get done first. Again, totally get it! This stuff isn’t always easy at first. After all, the title of this post isn’t “An Easy Way to Get Started and Get Things Done.” But I am hoping that the method I’m currently using helps you get things started (and finished!) the way it’s been helping me, and that eventually, getting things done does come easy.

A Minimalist Approach to Getting Started and Getting Things Done

The key to this approach is not to get ahead of ourselves and put several things on our to-do lists. Because if you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of getting things done, then the last thing you want to do is make yourself crazy with a to-do list that includes anything and everything you can think of.

Instead, this approach involves asking yourself three questions about what what you want to get accomplished and why you want to get it done. By asking yourself these questions, you’re being intentional about what it is you want to get done, which makes you more likely to get started and more likely to execute the task at hand.

Also, you want to write this to-do list the night before. This way you go to sleep knowing exactly why you’re waking up the next morning. For those of us starting a business and working full-time jobs, getting up in the morning isn’t always easy. Writing your to-do list before bed will help you focus on the bigger picture and give you some extra motivation to get your day going.

Here are the three questions you’re going to ask yourself before you go to bed tonight (write the answers down):

  • What did I accomplish today?
  • What do I want to accomplish tomorrow?
  • What is my ultimate goal?

First, you’re going to remind yourself of something that you got done today. That will make starting a new task seem a lot less daunting. If you haven’t accomplished anything today, write that down too. Write down why you didn’t get anything done and how you feel about it.

Next, you’re going to write one thing that you want to accomplish tomorrow. One. Thing. Why is this one thing important to you? How do you think accomplishing that one thing will make you feel? Write all of that down. Having this conversation with yourself is a really important part of motivating yourself to get this one thing done.

Last, write down your ultimate goal and how accomplishing this one thing will get you that much closer to achieving that ultimate goal. Answering this question reminds you of why you’re doing all of this in the first place. It’s so important that we remind ourselves of our “why” as often as possible so we don’t lose sight of our purpose.

This is a pared down, super minimalist approach at writing a to-do list, but it’s also a very intentional exercise that has the potential to help you actually get started and also get things done. Because of this method, I’ve gone from a blogging rut of about four weeks to writing two posts in one day. I’ve finally tackled my inbox after weeks of anxiety about checking new email. I’m slowly getting back to feeling creative and inspired, and I feel accomplished because I’m only tackling one thing at a time.


This approach isn’t for everyone, but if you’re an overwhelmed entrepreneur that isn’t getting things done, this may be just the thing to help you start (and finish!) your next project.

What do you think? Will you give this a try?

Let me know in the comments!

Photo Source: Unsplash

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  • Now this is right on time for me! I am definetley the overwhelmed blogger with too many ideas who also works full time. I have started a to-do list to help with organizing my thoughts and tasks. However, my to-do list has grown so long that now the list is overwhelming me (lol). I will definetley give this a try.

    • LOL I know how you feel! To-do lists aren’t helpful once they start getting out of control. Once you give this a try, let me know how if it helped!

  • This is a really good idea, and it’s refreshing to hear someone talk about her problems and solutions in this entrepreneurship hustle 🙂

  • Sounds good. So glad you’re “back”. That rut.. boy, it can be something serious.

  • HarlemLoveBirds

    Such great tips (as always!). Those to-do lists the night before are crucial for me especially to get a good night’s sleep otherwise I’m popping awake in panic remembering things. I use Evernote and Whitney English’s Day Designer to help me stay on top of things. Whitney and Hilary Rushford did a fantastic session on Overcoming Overwhelm at Alt Winter 2014 which has stuck with me. It’s definitely worth looking up!

  • I definitely want to give this a try. I love making to-do lists but I often will make them and never look at them again (totally defeats the purpose right? lol) & that of course leads to me forgeting all the things I meant to accomplish. I really like the intentional aspect of this as well. I agree with you when you say it’s important to remind ourselves of our “why” as often as possible.

    Melody // http://www.marevoli.com

  • Thanks so much, Krystal. I will be doing this as I’m in the vision phase of starting a business!

  • I am in the same predicament. I applied to business school and was waitlisted at two top 10 programs. I became a social entrepreneurship fellow and helped others but can’t catch momentum for my own stuff. BLAR!