Six Tips For Getting Things Done by Leonardo da Vinci

An Article from Positivity Blog archivesdavinci

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

“A well-spent day brings happy sleep.”

If you want  tips on how to become more productive, one good source would be Leonardo da Vinci.  He painted a whole bunch of classic paintings such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. His journals contain ideas for inventions like hydraulic pumps, steam cannons, helicopters and hang gliders. He was also, among other things, an anatomist, sculptor, botanist and musician.

Da Vinci got stuff done. A lot of stuff.How did he do it?

Well, here are six of his tips for getting things done.

1. Do.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

If you want to get things done you have to do things. If you want big results you often have to take massive action. There is no way to get around taking action if you want real life results.

But it’s easy to get stuck in a mindset where you in way substitute thinking for action. You think and think and take action just once in a while.

One thing that gets you stuck in this mindset is that you may see other people doing the same thing. And so your habit of taking action once in a while gets reinforced since it feels like the “normal” thing to do. The fear of failure and what people might say if you try, fail or succeed are powerful factors too.

But to get what you want you need to break out of that. You need to take a lot of action. And if you are an overthinker or procrastinator then there is probably room for a lot more action every week.

I think the first step is just to be aware of how much action you are actually taking. To be aware how much time you are spending thinking or planning. And catch yourself when you get stuck in unproductive thought patterns. And then adjust to take more action.

How can you snap yourself into action? Three tips:

  • Pump your enthusiasm. One way of doing that is to see what’s positive in any situation. Then build on that to get your enthusiasm going. Perhaps it’s just a thing or two. But that glimmer of positivity can be a starting point to change your perspective to a more positive one where you can find enthusiasm. And whatever the situation you are in will often be easier and more pleasurable to handle.
  • Another tip is to get an enthusiastic vibe from other people. Listen to CDs with enthusiastic people – Brian Tracy and especially Tony Robbins is two helpful guys – for perhaps 20 minutes. When you are done listening you’ll probably feel a lot more enthusiastic. Or hang out with enthusiastic people and get them to talk about what they are enthusiastic about. Enthusiasm is contagious, so use that fact to help yourself (and others when you are feeling enthusiastic).
  • Just do it anyway. If you don’t feel like you could pump up your enthusiasm, just go and do what you want to do anyway. If you do it even if you don’t feel like it, you are acting as you would like to feel. You may not want to go to the gym. But you do it anyway. And after you’ve been there for a while you are glad you went there, because now you are getting your workout done. And you are feeling proactive, enthusiastic and good about yourself.

Realize that the world doesn’t revolve around you. People will probably not care as much as you think if you try, fail or succeed with something. They have their own lives to worry about.

2. Do. Experience. Learn.

“Experience does not ever err. It is only your judgment that errs in promising itself results which are not caused by your experiments.”

“Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.”

If you take little action it’s easy to overestimate the value of the results. A failure or a mistake might feel like the end of the world. You may perhaps you beat yourself up about it for the rest of the week.

That won’t help much though. As you learn to take more action, the results contain less emotional power. You don’t get overwhelmed and lost in a sad funk.

Instead you can learn to take the lessons from a mistake or failure. To not take the failure so seriously but instead see it – just like everything else – as a valuable experience. Then you focus on the future to make some plans and adjustments based on what your experiences have taught you. And then you snap back into the present moment to take more action again. Just like when you first learned to ride the bicycle.

So dive into life. Get experiences, because it is only here you will get some real understanding.

3. Be consistent.

“Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

It’s easy to get riled up and get going with something new on an enthusiastic high. But that initial enthusiasm tends to dissipate. That’s when you hit a plateau. That’s when you need to keep moving. Doing everything in small spurts and then turning to the next thing when something loses it newness makes it hard to get what you want.

You have to be persistent. And consistent. Then you can get pretty much anything done. One of the big reasons why people don’t get what they want is simply that they won’t keep going. Or that they go, stop, go, stop. Persistence and consistency isn’t exactly the sexiest things in personal growth. But they are ridiculously helpful.

Because the results you want may not come to you tomorrow or next week. Improving your life is often hinges on the ability to not go running around for new magic pills all the time or choosing the instant gratification option every time.

So, how do you become more consistent?

Be aware. Just by being aware of what you are doing – and not doing – you can stop and change how you think and act in your everyday life. This will take time, but little by little you can avoid your own pitfalls – such as for instance the instant gratification route – more and more.

Set the context. What you do early in the day often sets the context for your day. And your days are your life. We have a tendency to want to be consistent with what we have done before. You can use that your advantage. One thing that can give you a good start is to do the hardest and/or most important thing first. If you start your day like this then you don’t have to worry about that special task for the rest of the day.

Taking this route makes the day feel easier and you’ll have less inner resistance to getting the rest of the tasks of the day done. Also, try to working out early in the day. It will make you feel energized for the rest of the day. This can be crucial on days when you feel tired and only half awake.

4. Move over, through or around obstacles.

“Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.”

Obstacles are tricky. They can easily discourage you. But they are seldom as scary as they look. If you actually start to smash them or move around them you may find that it is easier than you may have thought. The biggest obstacles are often the ones you put up in your mind. Not just in the form of how you perceive external obstacles and make them bigger than they are. But also in how you create obstacles that aren’t even out there. They exist solely in your mind.

Be careful of them. Realize that you may be making things harder than they actually need to be. Realize that you to some part decide how hard or easy something is. By diving into reality and taking action you get real life experience of how things are. Then you may see how the obstacles were just in your mind. Or how you can move over, under or through the obstacle by learning and adjusting. Or just by being persistent. The obstacle will yield if you know what you want and keep going.

Look at an obstacle as a way for the world to test you and teach you. Instead of a solid brick wall.

5. Know what’s important.

“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.”

There is always enough time. You have the same amount of hours in the day that da Vinci had. But the thing is to know what is important to you. And to take action based on that.

Knowing what you want and following that path is important for the rest of the tips above. To be able to take all that action, to do it consistently and to crush internal or external obstacles you need to know what you want. That will give you the motivation to keep going. And I’m talking about what you really want. What is most important to you (not what your parents, teachers or society may tell is important).

How do you find out what you really want? I think you need to really think about it. But that’s not all. I also think you need to just experiment and try things. From all that doing and all those experiences you learn things. Not just about the world but also about yourself. Experience makes it clearer in your mind if what you thought you wanted is really what you want.

Over time your map becomes more accurate. And you can readjust your path if appropriate. Getting things done can be kinda messy, wobbly and uncertain at times. Such is life.

But in any case it’s a lot better than sitting around waiting or just sitting on your own hands with a vague sense of unease somewhere inside your heart and mind.

6. Focus.

“As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.”

You need to know what’s important. You also need to focus on it. And focus on it consistently.
And this is not just about a focus on what you are doing and what you want. It’s also the focus of your attitude. To for instance keep your focus on the positive, on your curiousness and your enthusiasm. On what gets you where you want to go.

Instead of negative doubts, beating yourself up or other things you may focus on from time to time for some reason. That stuff will seldom help you. Of course, if there is a real problem then that needs to be handled. But oftentimes it’s easy to get stuck in negativity because of old habits, what other people may say or just to strengthen a victim identity and get a strange sense of satisfaction and familiarity out of the negativity.
Finally, here are three practical tips that I have found to be very helpful to improve my focus.
Exercise. This is key. Regular exercise makes me more focused, positive and energized. It can make a huge difference.

Singletask. Do just one thing at a time. To get things done quicker and better focus just on what’s in front of you instead of trying to multitask.

Work in a cone of silence. Try to minimize possible distractions. Suggestion for doing that could be to unplug your internet cable, shutting of your phone and closing your door.

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