Review of Get It Done by Michael Mackintosh

Updated: Jul 6, 2019

The following review first came as a podcast

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Hello listeners! Welcome to another episode from Digital Amrit’s book reviews. The chosen book for this episode is Michael Mackintosh’s Get it done – the 21-day mind hack system to double productivity and finish what you started. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it? But, the book isn’t very long.

Let’s see what this book is about. As the title suggests, this book looks at how to tune your mind to get things done, be more productive and how to fight what comes in the way of finishing your projects / achieving your goals.

The book is divided into three parts – Part I deals with 11 essential mind hacks to make things happen, Part II is the unstoppable 21 day challenge and Part III is your 21-day challenge.

The 11 essential mind hacks that are discussed in the book are:

  1. Prolonged pain or short lived pain – whether you think of long-term consequences of your choices and take tough decisions or procrastinate in order to avoid short-term or immediate consequences or unpleasantness.

  2. Defining choice – you decide what you want to do. If you want to change, make it happen – think differently and act differently. You cannot do the same things that you always do and magically expect things to change.

  3. 80/20 rule – few things in life matter a lot while the rest are trivial. For example, 20% of the time you spend at work might bring in 80% of the outcome, while the remaining 20% of the value takes up 80% of your time. Identify the 20% of your time that brings in the most value and focus on it while cutting back on the time that takes care of trivial issues.

  4. Good is good enough – a good presentation may take 2 hours while a perfect or near-perfect presentation might take 20 hours. In most cases in life, good is effective and sufficient and perfectionism not only takes time but, may also lead to procrastination.

  5. Delusion of time management – you simply cannot manage time! You can only manage yourself – focus on managing your thoughts, your emotions, your words and your actions. This helps create a better you – a more empowered version of yourself. This would mean that you are directing your thoughts and actions into achieving what you want, rather than merely ticking items off a to-do list.

  6. Resistance – finally, we know who or what is between us and our goals. It is an internal force, called “the Resistance” which makes your determination weak and distracts you. Once you let that happen, you are back to being distracted, moving further away from your goals.

  7. Fears and hallucinations – irrational fears such as fear of success, fear of rejection, what will happen if I do this? What will the others think of me – these hold us back from what we want to do.

  8. Focus – if you do too many things, the chances of any one moving towards completion is very low. Rather, choose one main thing and focus on it until completion.

  9. How to overcome self-doubt – We keep telling ourselves that we are not ready yet and that we need more practice. But, let that slide and think compassionately. You don’t need to be perfect, you are better than so many of them out there.

  10. Do it now – There is only one time and that is now. If we wait for tomorrow or some other future date, it will never happen. At the end, you would find satisfaction that you did something, rather than regretting that the perfect time never came.

  11. Do less work to get more done – Take a break, enjoy something other than work and then get back to work after you have rested.

Part II deals with the 21-day challenge. It is done in three stages – whack, act and relax.

Stage 1 is WHACK – This is the pre-challenge set up which helps you identify what you want to do in this 21-day challenge. WHACK is:

W – What do you want?

H – How will you make it happen?

A – Absolute responsibility

C – Conditions and structures

K – Kick-start

The W helps you pick which project or goal that you would like to complete or achieve. Think of why it is important for you to do this. What will happen if you do not do this? When would you like to finish this? Set a clear date with a realistic timeframe. Figure out where you will be doing this – at home, at work or at a specific location outside such as a gym, etc. Now, put them all together on a sheet of paper – the template given by the author goes like this:

I commit to do something by doing these specific things. This is important to me because of these reasons. I will work on this at this location every so often to get it done.

The author suggests that you put this up at a prominent location where you see it often to drill the idea or the challenge in to your mind.

How will it happen – look at various paths or action plans to achieve what you want. Choose your path but do bear in mind that not all paths are equal. Ask for help – you don’t need to know all the answers. Take a break because bulbs can go ding when you are not thinking of the problem but say taking a shower or mowing your lawn. Find a mentor or a training program if you are in need of guidance.

Absolute responsibility – What do you do when the resistance tempts you to get distracted and the irrational fears support the idea of abandoning your project and watch TV instead? Do you succumb to it or do you take responsibility? Responsibility can easily be monitored with an external influence – for example, choose an accountability partner. While communicating with your accountability partner, make sure that these are clearly communicated: – when you will report, how you will report, what you did and the consequence of what you did. If you haven’t done your part for the day, you will pay so much towards charity or you will forego something as a punishment or you will reward yourself with something. A simple post in facebook that you will achieve this goal by this timeline will help you keep at it because you do not want to let yourself down in front of your friends of acquaintances.

Conditions and structures – What do you need to achieve your goal? Make sure that the conditions are right to start your work towards your goal. For example, if your challenge is to run 5 miles every morning, you need a pair of socks and shoes. It can be pretty frustrating if you are going to search your sock drawer for matching socks or look for shoes in the morning. Instead, you keep them ready the night before, have a playlist of songs ready in your phone along with the headset and a bottle of water to keep you hydrated, you would be more inclined to run; you may even look forward to it.

Kick-start your challenge by adding more clarity to your plan by breaking them into smaller steps – figure out the 20% action which would result in 80% value. Cut back on the 80% activity which does not add much value. For example, you want to have your website up and running in 21 days, you could spend 80% of your time in designing its looks rather than its contents. Or, you could hire someone to design it with your content and save yourself precious hours.

Part III is your own 21-day challenge – this is where you act. Look at your daily activities towards your goal. Assess your activities and identify the top results / impact. Are there any activities who are not moving you towards your goal? Remove distractions – if you are painting a picture, for example, turn off cell phones during the time you paint. A trivial message or a notification could distract you from your goal. One thing may lead to another and by the time you realise, you may have been distracted for a long time. Once you are distracted, it takes about 20 minutes to go back to same level of focus. Having a timer may of help – an hourglass makes the passing of time visual.

Stage 3 of your challenge is to relax. Why is it important to relax? It is important to unwind and rest well before your start with your next challenge. Think of how you would like to relax, as part of your challenge. Would you just curl up in your chair and read a book? Would you take your family to a beach resort? Enjoy your well-deserved break so that you can clear your mind, get it ready to focus on the next big challenge.

Now that we’ve gone through the content, let’s go through the other aspects of the book. The writing style is casual.  Most of the examples in the book are things that I could relate to. I loved the way the book had explained the Resistance – how it makes you slack and distracts you from your goal. Another most liked portion of the book is where the author explains the fears. What if I fail? What if people find my ideas stupid? What will others think of me? This kind of fear had held me back from doing so many things. My favourite portion of the book is where the author gives the situation of one of your friends falling aboard your boat and only you know swimming. What would you do? Would you look at yourself in the mirror before diving in? Would you practise a few strokes before bringing friend to safety? Or would you just dive right in and save our friend?

At the end of the book, there are a lot of templates for the readers to use for their own challenges and details of other books / courses offered by the author.

So, now that we have finished going through the book, what is our take on it? First of all, it was an extremely useful book. I could identify myself with a few of the examples given in the book – checking my phone every so often, proud of my PHD’s (that is, projects half done), finding an excuse or a distraction not to commit to a course to achieve what mattered the most. I will give a few examples of my projects in pipeline – craft activities with my kids, my illustrated book for Kindle, my blog which I have not been updating as frequently as I used to, Digital Amrit podcasts were going great but there were no new podcasts in the last three months, my etsy shop hasn’t had a new listing though I have wonderful ideas and rough sketches in my laptop waiting to be finished, not to mention my weight loss goals.

Reading the book made me more conscious of how I used watching TV or browsing through my phone wasting precious time which could have otherwise been used to complete my projects.  Also, having recently moved from an Android phone to iPhone, a simple widget in my phone shows how much time I spend on social networking. At the end of the day, it was a whopping 40 minutes. Now, that is not moving me anywhere close to any of my goals. With occasional reminders from my husband (he would make a good responsibility partner) on these stats and how it was affecting me, I felt guilty.

Finally, I took this book up and finished it during a weekend. Three motivating factors – one, it was short book; so, I didn’t have to spend hours and hours reading it; second, my husband said that it would help me finish my PHD’s – a part of me wants to see them complete and third, I was reading an amazingly interesting book, to which I could get back after I finished reading this book and completing this podcast. After reading the book, I am looking back at my other goals, which have taken a back seat, thanks to the resistance and procrastination. And, as the book suggested, I am trying to focus on one thing. One main thing – which is my health. Not exactly a 21-day challenge but, let’s just say it is a modified version of it.

On the whole, this is an extremely useful book and it gives you so many templates to put the ideas in to action – your fears, your projects or goals, your action plan, your vision, your accountability or commitment. We highly recommend that you pick this book up along with pen and paper and write down what you need to. If you can follow it through with action, you will be as the book says – “unstoppable”.

Thanks for listening to this episode. Do give us a thumbs up if you like this episode and please share your feedback. Don’t forget to subscribe to Digital Amrit. Bye!

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