The book is made up of 21 chapters (they should’ve called it the 21 Laws for Getting Things Done), and has 310 pages. I’ll share a couple of thoughts from each one of the chapters but I encourage you to grab a copy so you can enjoy the stories and wisdom from a different generation. Although first published in 1947, you can still find copies of it.
I’ve read a number of books by Dr. Laird, he writes like John Maxwell, except his stories and sayings are from the early 1900’s and were a result of the Depression and World Wars. Like any self-improvement book, the ideas are not new, but just told in a different way.
1. How producers are made
- It isn’t how much you know but what you get done that the world rewards and remembers.
- One cannot be too old to get started right.
- “Progress is not an accident, but a necessity.” ~ Herbert Spencer
2. Producers in spite of everything
- If the sick and feeble can get so much done, what can limit the healthy person except himself?
- Many of the world’s great producers have had excuses for not getting things done. But they have ignored the excuses and produced.
3. Be dissatisfied first
- There is magic in a goal
- The dissatisfied person has the urge to get things done. That is why many apparently ordinary people do extraordinary things.
- Blessed are the dissatisfied when they have a goal.
- “My desires are limited only by my imagination.” ~George Eastman
4. Detours that mislay initiative
- It is not enough to work diligently. We must work at the right things and in the right direction, keep on the main roads and off the detours.
- Many who appear to be stalled are not in a rut, just on a detour.
- Don’t mislay your initiative – concentrate on things that count!
- “When you have an enterprise on hand concentrate upon it wholly; forget that anything else in the world exists.” ~ Napoleon
5. Reading that helps get things done
- One of the best way to make money during the first thirty years of life is to invest it in reading that counts. Saved money may be lost, but hoarded knowledge sticks and multiplies at an illegal rate of interest.
- Put less emphasis on increasing this week’s pay, more emphasis on increasing your earning power by the right reading.
6. How to get friends who help
- Our friends are like our reading. They can stimulate and inspire us to do something – or they can sidetrack us into detours that make accomplishment a gamble.
- Friends may not be able to give you pull, but the right friends can help you get some push.
- “People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after.” ~ Goldsmith
7. How to plan to produce
- Planful workers accomplish more than those who are merely diligent workers.
- Planning far ahead helps one get ahead
- “The most interesting thing in life is to plan some big piece of work that everybody says can’t possibly be done, and then jump in with both feet and do it!” ~ Edward H. Harriman
8. How to say no to yourself
- People who get things done have to be TOUGH-MINDED, have to say no to tempting short-term gains and stick to their long-range goals.
- People who get things done have to learn to say no – to others and to themselves.
- Men who control themselves and their own appetites can control circumstances and other men.
9. Doing the thing that you hate most
- THE DOER likes his work because he has no unpleasant jobs hanging fire. He has already cleaned them up. He does not dread the next task, for the unpleasant task is behind him.
- The way to get things done is to tackle the hard jobs first.
- “Difficulties show men what they are.” ~ Epictetus
10. How to make yourself do it
- One of the mightiest forces for getting things done is the human will, your own will. The trick is to release the will for action. And that trick is astonishingly simple–make yourself do it.
- You get much more done when you make yourself do it.
- “There is no development without effort, and effort means work.” ~ Calvin Coolidge
11. How to decide trifles quickly
- Four Kinds of Decisiveness: The ways in which people make up their minds separate them into four classes.
- The die-hard conservatives, who take a long time to think over trifles and end by deciding to do nothing at all.
- The conservatives, who waste their energy on trifles but usually do something in the long run.
- The progressives, who reach decisions quickly, go into action quickly, and may change their minds quickly.
- The radicals, who reach decisions quickly but, instead of going into action, spend their energies in trying to justify these decisions and who are inclined to hold to their decisions so long that in time they almost qualify as members of the first class.
- The people who get things done rarely belong to either of the extreme classes. The achievers come from the second or third classes.
12. Getting a vigorous start
- Energetic starters need not worry about getting things done, getting in ruts, or lacking opportunities.
- Weak starts make deep ruts. Energetic starts pull people out of ruts.
- It requires an extra push at the start to get going. Human self-starters give that extra starting push.
13. The best hours for getting more done
- Get up early three mornings and gain one day of time.
- Being an early bird is one of the signs of genius.
- “When a man begins to turn over it’s time to turn out.” ~ Duke of Wellington
14. Working for quality
- Do well and you will do more.
- Don’t half do a job; you may be neglecting the half that is important.
- “I cannot recall ever starting a job without thinking out how to do it better than it had been done before.” ~ John Edison Sweet
15. Doing two things at once
- Put your spare moments and spare hand to work.
- Extra time is literally being showered down on us, but we have to collect the droplets and use them before they run away.
- “No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
16. The best place to work
- Keep blank spaces out of your life by working any place, any time.
- It is the work not the place that makes a workplace.
- When we imagine it is no time or place to work, we are really trying to get out of work.
17. Get someone else to do it
- Little men want to do it all themselves. Big men get someone else to help them.
- People who get things done seldom try to do it all themselves.
- “Almost all the advantages which man possesses arise from his power of acting in combination with his fellows.” ~ John Stuart Mill
18. Work for more than money
- Slaves had to work, whether they liked it or not. So do many free men, as far as that goes. Their pocketbooks are in their jobs, their hearts elsewhere.
- People who get things done see more than money in their work.
- “The more I think and reflect, I feel that, whether I be growing richer or not, I am growing wiser, which is far better.” ~ Robert Nicoll
19. Take on more work
- We can do when we have to do.
- There is merit in taking on extra work; it breaks our long-established custome of doing less than our best.
- “Like a postage stamp, a man’s value depends on his ability to stick to a thing till he gets there.” ~ Joseph Chamberlain
20. How to make habit your friend
- To enjoy work, make it a habit.
- It’s foolish just to work. Make work a habit and then play at the job.
- “The conduct of successful business merely consists of doing things in a very simple way, doing them regularly, and never neglecting to do them.” ~ Lord Leverhulme
21. Don’t accept alibis
- We can all do much more than we realize.
- There is an old French proverb that says, “He who excuses himself, accuses himself.”
- “Better wear out than rust out.” ~ Motto of father of Samuel F.B. Morse
KEEP ON KEEPING ON!