Updated on: Sunday, October 25, 2020, 01:56 AM IST

Chanakya Thoughts: Getting things done

The first step to getting things done is to define the outcome. Most of us start working without having a plan. We just start without thinking which is very wrong.

Getting Things Done is a world-famous book on productivity written by management guru David Allen. He has developed a model which helps in getting results when you have multiple tasks to do. Even Presidents of America and other nations have been trained by him to apply this model.

I was fortunate to have met David Allen and discuss various ideas. Over a lunch he told me, “I developed Getting Things Done (GTD) model, and over 30 years I only teach this one model. And, I am surprised they still call me for the same topic. Maybe it works…”

With a smile I said, “Same with me — I don’t teach other than Chanakya and it seems to be working…” and handed over my book ‘Corporate Chanakya’.

I have been teaching Chanakya models of leadership and productivity for over 20 years and it is working. And, here is the Indian version of Getting Things Done: It is called Kautilya’s Arthashastra. Among various sutras (formulas) here is one for getting things done.

Chanakya says, “In case the employee misses the time (of completion) or does the work in a wrong manner, he may complete the work through another.” (3.14.10-14)

Even though we want to do all the work ourselves, most of our work nowadays is dependent on others. Be it having a domestic help at home, or a junior employee who helps you prepare a report. Even professors require assistants in University research projects. And a plumber or electrician is required for getting things fixed.

Chanakya is telling us: In case an employee is not able to complete work on time, or does not do it in the right way, the work still has to be competed through someone else. Finally, results matter. So how do we practice this in our daily life?

1. Plan your work

The first step to getting things done is to define the outcome. Most of us start working without having a plan. We just start without thinking. And the common attitude is, “Let us start first, things will fall into place.” This method is wrong. You may start immediately, but will get stuck later.

So best is to spend time in defining what is expected and in what time frame. For instance, it’s festival time and you want to get your house cleaned up. Take a piece of paper and write down what it means to you by ‘cleaning the house’. Clearing your wardrobe of old clothes, giving up your old books to an under privileged child, buying new curtains and bedsheets, or getting the house painted. You define what all you need to get done. Take out some focused time for thinking on this and remember to plan on paper, and not just making mental notes.

2. Have a list of people

Now comes the next task, to make a list of people required for getting the work done. And, remember you need to have different options for your support system. If you require a plumber, check if you have two-three plumbers to choose from. Check with two carpenters if you want to get a new wardrobe made.

Same thing should be followed by those who want to hire an employee in office. Interview more than one person for the job. Even if one person is not good, we have the other options ready. Having a list is a mental backup if the other person is not able to work for you.

3. Train and monitor the work

When you have some assistant for your work, there is a sense of relief. Yet, appointment of an assistant is not everything. You will have to train the person before delegating the work. We ‘instruct’ people what to do, but we do not ‘train’ people how to do. This is very critical. Show how it is done, by doing it yourself once.

Then, allow the person to do the work. Also, monitor the work from time to time. Do not come at the end and say, ‘Why is it done wrongly?’ Your role of being a supervisor is very important. And, if a person is not able to complete the work on time, or in the right manner, give it to someone else. But get your things done...

(The writer is Founder-Director of Chanakya Aanvikshik, an author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings)

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Published on: Sunday, October 25, 2020, 07:00 AM IST