It’s a little ironic that I should be posting on how to get more done when we’re in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic.
But if there’s any silver-lining to this dark cloud we’re under, it’s that we have the gift of time on our hands.
However, this in itself may cause procrastination to the nth degree amongst many; people think they’ve got all the time in the world. But remember, the situation we’re faced with is just temporary; when we come out the other side, we’ll be so busy catching up with work, seeing friends and going out for celebratory meals, that the little jobs we put off to do on a ‘rainy day’ won’t have actually got done.
So roll up those sleeves, get focused, stay determined and let’s get more done while you still have the chance.
1. Make a plan
You can do this on your phone, your laptop or on some paper. I start by writing down exactly what I want to get achieved. And then I break down each big job into smaller tasks so that they don’t overwhelm me.
Once you have a list of all the smaller tasks, I assign days when to do them. Work on one or two tasks every weekday for the next few weeks (take the weekends off!), and within a month, you’ll have achieved so much, trust me!
A word of warning though – don’t be over ambitious. Take into account the time it takes to make meals, work from home, eat etc… and make sure the tasks are realistic enough to be achievable.
Yes, there’s so much to do, but if you write down the most pressing thing that you need to do and work backwards, you’ll focus on what’s important. Always try and do the tasks you least like to do first thing in the morning – it will motivate you to complete the easier tasks once you’ve done them.
If you’re unsure on what to prioritise, sit down and have a chat with someone about it – too often, we’re so wrapped up in working IN the job, we can’t see what we should be working ON. A different opinion or perspective may offer some suggestions.
3. Set timers
The pressure of time can be fantastic. On my desk I have a 2.5 minute sand timer. If I want to respond to a wordy email or file away some bills, I’ll set my timer and off I go. It’s amazing what we can achieve and how quickly when we’ve got the pressure of time on our hands.
If you don’t have a sand timer you can use your phone to set different timers or use certain times in the day (school pick up etc) to get X number of things achieved – whatever works for you. There’s a famous law – Parkinson’s Law – whatever amount of time you give yourself to do something is the amount of time is what it will take to get it done. If you give yourself 3 weeks to get something done, it will probably take 3 weeks. If you gave yourself 3 days, you’d make different choices and get it done.
4. Tidy then clean
Tidy desk, tidy mind is the mantra that I live by. And by that same token, why not apply this to the whole house?
If you declutter first (and come to realise that you don’t actually need half the things you own), it will be that much easier to keep the house tidy and clean – therefore giving you more time to get things done that you want to focus on.
Once your space is tidy, then you can clean. There’s something quite satisfying about cleaning a space or room, knowing that you’re living hygienically,
5. Get in the mood
You have to be in the mood to get things done sometimes don’t you? So to gear myself up and put me in a positive frame of mind, I’ll stick my headphones on and retreat into my own little bubble with the sounds of some 80s pop tunes for company.
It really makes me happy, optimistic and looking forward to getting things achieved. Give it a go – it might work for you too. The other thing that works for me in getting things achieved is watching a programme that focuses on the job I want to do. So if I want to clean one of the rooms in my home and I can’t be bothered, I’ll watch something like ‘OCD Cleaners’ or ‘How to Deep Clean Your Home’ – and as if by magic, it gives me enough motivation to want to do it.
I know many bloggers and vloggers who batch work – and that’s because they know that it saves so much time in the long run. If you’re cooking, double the ingredients and make a second lot that you can freeze and have another day.
If you’re working on a blog post and are in full flow, go and write up a second and third one. Same with making videos, catching up on emails, social media planning,…you name it, batch working actually works and saves as much as 40% of your time.
7. The one-touch policy
One of the biggest sappers of time can be admin – banking, school reports, bills, notices etc..they all need opening and dealing with. I adopt the ‘one-touch’ policy for many of the letters I get.
I save them up to open and when I’ve got 10 minutes to spare in the day, I’ll open them and file them or pay the bill straight away – touching them only once. If you leave them on your desk to deal with ‘one day’ they’ll just get pushed around and not made a priority. Adopt the ‘one touch policy’ and it will free up more of your time.
8. Cut down on the TV
Yes, you want to catch up on Netflix in the evening, I get that. And you should. But mindlessly flicking from channel to channel wondering what to watch and only then ending up watching something with half interest isn’t the way to go. Only watch what you really want to watch – and DON’T do anything else when you watch the programme.
If you try to work while you’re watching TV, you’ll achieve very little – and will probably fail to keep up with the storyline; the key word here being focus.
9. Have intention
Never sit down without knowing what you’re going to work on. Without intention, you end up mindlessly checking emails, making a coffee, having a snack, sticking the washing on – and never really achieving one of your priorities.
Sit down with a plan – and if you haven’t got one for that moment, make a quick list of a couple of tasks and do those first before you check your emails, hand up the washing, make lunch etc
10. Declutter like crazy
Once we come out the other side of this I have a feeling the charity shops will have enough household goods to last them a whole year. But right now is a great opportunity to get rid of the things you don’t want or need, which will ultimately help you streamline your life and get more done – fact.
If you don’t believe me, have a read Marie Kondo's book – she hasn’t sold over 1 million copies for no reason.
11. Get up earlier!
I live by the Miracle Morning and have done since the end of last year. It’s a great system to make into a habit and part of your everyday life – it’s amazing what you can get achieved.
The idea is that you get up just one hour earlier than you usually do. And in that hour (that you’ll have all to yourself), you use the time wisely to read, write, meditate, exercise, use affirmations and visualize how your d ay will turn out – yes really, all in an hour. Buy the book for yourself and see how it really can give you more time.
12. Don’t multi-task
If you really want to accomplish something, dedicated 100% of your time and focus to that one activity. Do not get distracted and do not flit from one task to another.
Don’t read while you’re listening to something; don’t watch TV while you’re trying to work; and avoid talking to someone while you’re responding to an email. Trust me – you’ll get the job done in half the time. We’re taught from an early age that multi-tasking is great, but most of the time, that’s not true.
If you’re weeding in the garden or doing a mindless task that doesn’t require focus, by all means knock your socks off with multi-tasking – you could have a phone call with a friend, listen to a podcast etc but when it comes to something that requires your full attention, focusing on ONE task with no distractions will put you in good stead and offer you more time.
13. Say no more often
If there’s one thing that having cancer taught me it’s that life is precious, so don’t waste it doing things that you don’t want to do. So this means, that you will have to say “no” a lot more than you already do. I used to take on people’s problems that became my own. If someone complained about having to do something, my automatic reaction would be to take it on all myself, even though I have things to do of my own. But that was bad for me as it put extra pressure on – and actually, it was bad for them as I was not giving them the opportunity to figure things out for themselves.
Be wary of being a ‘yes’ person as people will take advantage. Also, every ‘yes’ is a ‘no’ to your partner and kids. Not that this is always bad, but we just need to look at it in the way to understand that saying ‘yes’ to something means that there’s a trade off in saying ‘no’ to something else.
14. Get accountable
Understand that you are responsible for your actions and your time. You are also accountable for every decision that you make in your life. If you find it hard to motivate yourself, get yourself an accountability partner.
This could be a friend, a family member, a colleague – whoever. Have a weekly phone call with them that’s timed. Spend 10 minutes talking about what you want to achieve in the coming week and brainstorm ideas on how you are going to make that happen. Then swap and help them. When you call them the following week, you need to explain what you’ve achieved – and where you failed so that you don’t make the same mistake again. Mastermind groups are also great at motivating each other and making your goals accountable.
15. Reward yourself
One of my favourite ways of getting more done is to incentivise myself with rewards. You can set yourself goals and expectations and when (and only when) you complete them in the time you allowed, reward yourself with something you want.
It could be allowing yourself to bake a cake, going for a walk, buying that lamp you spotted on TKMaxx or watching a movie during the day – whatever it is, it’s important to treat yourself and appreciate the things you have and can look forward to.
I hope this post has provided you with some inspiration in getting more achieved in your daily life. If you just sit around procrastinating, it can lead to feelings of failure – and ultimately feeling low. This isn’t great for your mental health, and we all know how important that is.
So, the only question that remains is…what’s on your list of to-dos for this week?! Share your ideas and how you manage to get more done in your daily lifestyle.
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