Here are 10 tips I have been trying to incorporate to make getting things done more easily, more efficiently, and maybe the most important, more enjoyable.
1. Make it Easy to Get Started.
You don’t need to figure out every step in advance.
Write down an outline with a general overview of what needs to be done for your project. When you are ready, you can fill in the small, specific steps you need to accomplish.
2. Make it Easy to Start Again and Again.
When you stop, make a note of what the next step is so when you come back to your project, whether it is after lunch, the next day, or the next week, you know what to do and it is easy to pick it back up again.
You might be surprised how much time you spend getting back up to speed.
3. Keep an Overview List of Projects.
I like to call this my Project Possibility List. That helps me to feel less overwhelmed because it reminds me I have a choice (usually) whether to do the project or not.
Add any project need or idea that comes up so that you can see your choices at once.
Come up with a set of criteria to select which few projects to work on
while letting the rest stay safely on the list.
The criteria will vary depending on you and your situation. Tricky projects can be those that will have a high payoff when they are completed but require a long term commitment with continual effort. For example writing a book or setting up a website.
You can do 1 step a day or devote a specific amount of time each day to do as much as you can in that time frame, whatever works for you.
4. Limit the Number of Projects or Ideas you Work on At Once
This is one I have to remind myself of over and over again. I know I feel more calm and in control when I don’t have too many projects on my plate at one time.
I have trouble remembering this though! I think it comes down to impatience and a desire to get more done but the reality is I spin into overwhelm.
I may print this one out and post it to my forehead.
5. Set Aside Time for Specific Areas and Projects
Each of us has more than one area of focus in our lives. It might be your work or business, your home life, personal self improvement, school or education, or learning a new skill.
This is just a way to make sure you are paying attention to the areas you want to focus on in your day to day life.
For example, I am trying to limit myself to 4 projects, with ideally 1 in each area at a time. This is in addition to on-going tasks in each area.
My areas at the moment are:
Personal Care – this includes my self care and health routines that are essential, such as exercise that I do on a daily basis. I don’t really consider these projects and they are a routine but it does take time and attention.
If you are trying to adopt a new personal habit like exercise, healthy eating, etc, consider that as a project that you devote specific time and tasks into your daily and weekly time management.
Business and Marketing – this includes most of the things I need to do in the office and on the computer such as writing, invoicing, social media, updating websites, planning, etc.
Creative Projects – this includes making jewelry and art. It also includes making or designing projects that will go on the blog or in my books.
Home TLC and Care – this includes all the day to day things that need to be done from taking care of family needs, meal planning, cooking, bill paying, laundry, errands, cleaning and straightening, organizing, and home maintenance.
I have a specific day of the week for bill paying, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. in addition to overseeing a home repair and an organizing project.
I used to leave this out of my daily planning, as if it didn’t take any time. Hmmmm….no wonder I couldn’t fit everything in! These things take a fair amount of time to keep things going.
Just for Fun –
These are projects or things I want to do…..well, just for fun. It might be a sewing project, a baking or cooking project, an outing, etc. These are primarily the projects I do on the weekends or evenings.
I plan and set aside 50 minute blocks to work on them each day during the week.
That is the guideline, anyway. Believe me, it doesn’t always work out that way.
If there is a project that has a deadline or is more important, I can choose to only work on it until it’s complete.
6. When Possible Have a Mix of Long and Short Term Projects
I don’t know about you, but I have a need to see some results so I don’t get discouraged. I find that if all of my projects are long term, it is harder to stay motivated.
I like to mix in some short term projects that are fairly quick and easy just to make my ego happy.
7. Set up some Focus Time and then Focus like a Laser
Try to set aside at least an hour or two that you can get your most important tasks of the day done. Try your best to limit interruptions. Turn off the phone, email, and any other distraction.
I know this isn’t always easy, especially if you have kids. Even if you can only get 15 minutes at a time to focus on one step, it can make a difference.
If possible, doing them in the first part of the day means you know if nothing else gets done, you have made progress.
8. Remember Why: It is not Just About Getting Things Done
Sometimes we are so obsessed with checking things off our list that we forget why we are doing something in the first place.
Write your goal and the reason why you want to complete it on the page or document that you list the steps to complete. Look at your Why before you start the next step.
If you can’t think of one good reason why you are doing something, go ahead and check it off your list!
9. Take Time to Rejuvenate
Reading and looking at inspiration fuels me for the day. Taking time to relax, stretch, do yoga, read, meditate, and slow things down for a bit makes such a difference.
One thing I want to experiment with is to also do something rejuvenating before starting on the next project. It could be as simple as taking 5 minutes to stretch. The key to this is just enough to rejuvenate and re-energize. I know I have read that you are more effective if you take a 5-10 minute break each hour.
I tend to lose track of time and stay in one position way too long. And then I feel a bit like the Tin Man who needs a bit of oil to get moving again.
10. Be Realistic – Change your Mindset
Do you plan your day as if you will have no interruptions, boundless energy, and that you will get everything done in ½ the time you expected?
I have a habit of doing that. It is as if I haven’t met me before or paid attention to what has happened yesterday and the day before and the day before that.
I get frustrated when I forget that I can’t sustain high energy for 8 hours, there will be interruptions, and I have to stop and eat.
Expectation can be a funny thing. If you think you are going to get something done in 1 day and it takes 5 days, you get frustrated.
Sometimes you don’t know the scope of a project until you start. Of course, you can delegate things or eliminate things.
What if you allowed yourself to do the best job you can and work on it until it is done, without beating yourself up for not finishing on what might be a very unrealistic expectation?
One artist and entrepreneur I interviewed, who gets a ton of things done, works this way. She doesn’t set up an arbitrary deadline but continues to work on her project until it is done.
How do you get things done and what works best for you?
Please leave a comment and share your ideas.