This post is gold. I doubt many people would admit that however. More people would consider it to be similar to a visit to the dentist when you have a terrible toothache. You know you have to go but you dread going because you know what lies ahead. The problem is not that we don’t know the ways to get things done, but that we don’t want to have to implement those things.
I’m going to give you 10 quick tips to help get things done. Are these new or novel ideas? I doubt it. Is my goal that you follow all ten tips and immediately get everything done you wanted to? No. Definitely not. I want to provide 10 tips of which you might take one or two. (Do I dare even hope for 3 or more?) I hope something in this list will encourage you to do what you know you should be doing and help you get things done.
1. Make a List
This one’s a great one to get started. I made a list for this post. Making lists is a great way of organizing the jumble of things inside your head. Some people are more the list-making type than others. I admit I’m one of them. The truth remains that making a list helps the human brain put things into perspective and focus on a realistic set of tasks rather than an abstract (and mistaken) view of the size of the job.
2. Be Realistic
There’s only 24 hours in a day. And for most of us, we have to sleep for some of it. This means we have a limited amount of time in which we must get things done. Be realistic about what you can accomplish and don’t be overly ambitious. You probably won’t be able to paint the house, rebuild the fence, repair the driveway, and fix dinner all in a day. When you make a list of things to do put down small things. Small accomplishments help motivate and energize you. And you’ll see yourself making progress throughout the day.
3. Turn Off Email
Yeah, right. I know you just thought the same thing. There’s no way you could make it through 15 minutes let alone a couple hours without your email being open and checked. This one is a tricky one because I hear people claim their job requires instant and constant checking. Unfortunately I think this excuse is abused by most people. I’m guessing most of us can work two hours before responding to an email. Most things will be ok whether you answer immediately or in two hours. Try it. Maybe try it for 30 minutes, if it goes ok and nothing falls apart and the world doesn’t implode, try for an hour. You’ll be more productive. I promise.
4. Close Social Media
This one might very well be the most obvious and yet most neglected on the list. Social media is one of the biggest time drains within the workday. Studies have been done on the amount of time lost to social networking and its staggering. Close down tweetdeck (gasp), close the Facebook browser tab, and see how much more productive you’ll be. You’re not going to miss anything. It’ll be ok. Again, take it in small steps. Don’t think of it as a permanent withdrawal. Shut it down for an hour. Set a clock alarm to remind you when your hour is up and turn a negative into a positive; look forward to opening it back up when the time comes.
5. Take a Break
Wait, take a break to get things done? Yes. Sitting too long, working on a single task too long can have a counter-intuitive effect of making you less productive. You’ll naturally begin to work slower, your attention will begin to wain, and you’ll lose interest in the task. When this happens your best solution is to take a break. Studies have shown a number of different time lengths per hour you should take as breaks. I’m not going to point to a specific one but rather recommend taking a break when you need one. Be self-aware about how productive you are being and stop yourself if you need a break.
Ok, there’s five tips to get things done. Follow these and I guarantee you’ll find yourself getting more things done.
Wait! You’re right. I did say 10. Here’s the thing. Rather than overwhelming you with 10 tips all at once I’m leaving you with 5 for today. I have 5 more and I’ll publish them on Monday. But I’m practicing what I preach. I’m making a list and I’m being realistic. I want to give you an opportunity to get things done today. I want Friday to be an amazing end of the week and your weekend to be fantastic. Take these 5 tips (and come back on Monday for the other half the list).