How to do what you want to do

Last Update: Feb 20, 2022

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Have you ever wondered how some people get to do what they want to do all the time? Do you know the people I'm talking about? They are the ones who when you asked them what they did on their half-term holiday, say "Oh I painted the house, took the kids swimming, did some fishing with my friends, and wrote an article for my blog!"

It all sounds amazing and too good to be true, but you know that they're not lying and they actually did all that stuff. And then when you think about what you did (watched the last 3 series of your favourite TV show, had an argument with your children over homework, and ate your way through a 24 multipack of crisps)... it sounds all the more impressive!

So how do they to it?

What is the secret to their success?

In reality, these people are no different to you and me. They are human, went to school, work, play but they just seem to achieve that much more. I remember having one of these 'super humans' in my old office a long time ago, and I asked them how they did it. Their answer was remarkably simple. I was expecting them to say that they went to a fancy school, or had been training for years. Or even, yes, that they had a lycra suit on under their dress! But no, the answer was simple: they said "planning!"

"What do you mean planning?" I said.

"Just plan what you need to do, and then do it" came the reply.

"You mean like using a software planning system?"

"Not really, just plan, and then do" she continued.

"OK, so you mean write a list?" I enquired.

"Yes, lists are good" she explained, "but you need to write your list, then sort it into the most important or urgent things first, and then do those. After that, you'll have time to do everything else."


The Eisenhower Decision Matrix

Our conversation lasted a few minutes and eventually I understood. She explained the Eisenhower decision matrix to me and I got it. The Eisenhower Decision Matrix or The Urgent/Important Matrix as Steven Covey called it, is a simple way to prioritse your list of "things to do" into whether they are urgent/non-urgent or important/not-important so you end up with a grid which looks like this:

When you start filling it up with your real 'to do' list, you might have something like the following.

How to use the matrix

Obviously, each one of us will have different things that we think are important and urgent but the idea is that this matrix helps you to tackle the things in the right order.

Quadrant 1: Do these first as they are urgent and important but these are usually crises, that with better planning, you could avoid. For example, do your shopping in a timely manner and you won't run out of food for dinner!

Quadrant 2: This is the quadrant to focus on and do first each day after planning your list. It is where you will get the most rewarding results from, and will help you achieve your goals. If you do this well, then you will reduce the amount of things in quadrant 1, get rid of most of the things in quadrant 3, and leave all the things in quadrant 4 until you really have free time in which to do them.

Quadrant 3 - Delegate these if you can - or put on your answerphone, turn off your notifications and stop these interruptions whilst you do the things in quadrant 2.

Quadrant 4: - These are just distractions - you can do them when you've done everything else you need to do.

The importance of goal-setting

Another point to mention briefly here is the importance of setting yourself goals in the first place. If you don't know what you want to achieve (such as learning another language or building a website), you might find it hard to populate some of the things you need to do. Setting yourself goals and understanding WHY these are important to you is the first step to achieving anything. Then, breaking them down into smaller steps is an important part of getting to do what you want to do. It first helps you identify what it is you really want, what you will get from doing it, and then creates a plan of how to get there.

However, that is the subject of another blog, so let's assume that you have already decided that you want to be fluent in a language and write 1 article a week for your website,

What most of us do

Many of us make a 'to do' list but most of us, then do the things we think we want to do first - but these are the things in quadrant 4, the distractions; the least important and the least urgent things. We spend all day doing these things and then find that we've done nothing we really needed to do and the stress rises.

So if you want to know how to do the things you really want to do, then become a master of your own time. Do what you NEED to do first, and there will be plenty of time left for the things you WANT to do.

1. Write your lists

2. Organise your lists

3. Start in the right place!

What's the result?

The result of planning is that you can achieve more in less time. You will feel less stressed because you will avoid that 'OMG, I need to do that!" feeling that causes the cortisol (stress hormone) to circulate, and you will feel better because you have achieved the things you set out to do - leaving you a lot of time to do the things you really want to do.

So here's the question of the moment....

What will YOU do today?

Here's to your success whatever it is...

Let me know in the comments.


Recent Comments


Lots of good ideas here, Gail. Thanks for posting.

You're welcome. Hope you find it useful. Gail

Gail, I can certainly understand the premise of that matrix, but I have simply done whatever needs to be done each day, and carve a little free time out when ever the opprotunity presents itself!

Something to think about though!


Whatever works for you. There's never a right or wrong.

Thanks, Gail! You are certainly right about that!


Plan the work, work the plan.

It is a simple concept and incredibly complex to put it into action. Thanks for the decision matrix - it helps.


Hi Alex. Thanks for your input - short and simple! I like it.

Great advice is given in this post. Thanks for sharing :-)

Thanks Lisa. Glad you found it useful.
Here's to 'living the life' eh?!

Good morning from Sunny Southern California. As the saying goes;

"failing to plan is planning to fail!"

I just finished listening to the book, " The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer. That is about an 30-hour book so took about two weeks to get it all in. Lucky for me after my last gig, King of the Hammers, I had a lot of driving to do returning all the RV campers back to their homes and owners. With my older 05 titan, I use my air pods to listen to audiobooks while driving. The newer trucks and vehicles Bluetooth straight to the radio so I can answer phone calls, and listen to my audiobooks.

Jack also spoke of the planning principle in his book, I now purchased the physical book, the workbook that goes with it, and his Success Affirmations book.

Yesterday morning I started on the audiobook, " Getting things done" by David Allen. In what I have listened to so far he also quoted Steven Covey from his book, " The seven habit of highly successful people". I have also listened to that book and have a paperback version.

The late great Earl Nightingale also taught the same thing, he said make your own planner if one you purchase does not work for you.

I started logging the time frame of the things I do daily, and what an eye-opener that was. As Saint Paul said in the bible, the things I want to do those things I do not do, yet the things I do not want to do, those things I do. I can put a project better than the best.

So word to the wise, make and plan and take action on it. Take action every day on anything you learn new. If it works, awesome! If not, try something else.

We are born creators, let us all start creating our own lives and stop living others on TV, Facebook, worrying about who said what about someone we do not even know. Ya the family next door for most. Hahaha. Anyway, an awesome post to start my thinking gears going for today is Sunday. The start of a new week, and making a new plan for the week ahead.

See ya next time,

Super Dave, the Zam man.

Thanks for sharing your experience of these things Dave. I love that you are making the best use of your time listening to audio books. I do the same thing.
The people you mention are all great and there is so much sense to what they say. I'd also add the works of Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich) and Tony Robbins (Unleash the Power Within) to help people get started in creating what they want to do.
Sorting out 'why' you want things is also important - and it's not always the reasons we think.
Anyway , good to meet you and all the best for today.

Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill, Darren Hardy, Kristen Howe, are mentors of mine as is Les Brown is and one of my favorites too. I love one of his sayings, " I know how you can get back on your feet again, miss two car payments" Another one of my favorites of his is, " most people would rather get even, then get ahead."

Every good self-help teacher knows their why, and helping others is usually right there at the top of that why they do what they do list. For most of us, why is a hard thing to figure out. I have learned that mine change and I have learned that, that is okay!

Nice meeting you also Gail,

Wise words on all counts!

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