11 secrets to getting more done
Feeling swamped by all the tasks at hand? Here's how to accomplish more and avoid the sense of being overwhelmed.
This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.
I am not one of those full-of-energy, get-a-million-things-done-in-a-day types. So when I told my family and friends I planned to quit my full-time job to start freelancing on my own, I wasn't met with a rush of support.
In fact, I heard things like: "You know, being self-employed is really hard work." "Do you think you're organized enough for something like that?" And my personal favorite, "Well, at least you'll get to take those afternoon naps you love."
That was almost eight years ago. Today, I'm still freelancing and I get a lot more done in a day than I used to. It took some trial and error, but I found a few ways to power through and still have time to do the stuff I enjoy. Here are some tips:
1. Keep multilevel to-do lists
I'm a huge believer in to-do lists, but a long, cluttered mess of everything you want to accomplish will only make you feel bogged down. To keep things organized, group your to-do lists into categories. For example, I have a work to-do list organized by projects that need completed, business meetings and emails, and accounting tasks. I also have a separate personal to-do list organized by chores, errands and appointments.
If your to-do list is three pages long, you're probably creating too many tasks for yourself. I struggle with this myself. I'll write down everything from an important meeting to laundry. Then, when I can’t get to all of it, I feel frustrated. To combat this, I write down everything I think I should do in a week, and then I go back and cross out what really doesn't matter.
Do I need to write down laundry? Probably not. I'll just do it when I run out of clean underwear anyway. After that process, my list is focused and I get a little mental boost from already having tasks checked off.
3. Use a timer
Most people are guilty of distracting themselves and procrastinating. At least once a day I'll catch myself checking for a new blog post on Hyperbole and a Half, reading through The Atlantic’s archives, or trying for the 300th time to beat a level in Candy Crush Saga. I should be working, but I also want to use my Candy Bomb. To cut down on distractions I use an online timer. For 60 minutes, I can't do anything but work on the task at hand. After the timer goes off, I give myself leeway and try the level for the 301st time.
4. Own your email
If your email box is bursting at the seams, you can't remember what needs an answer, or you can't find something important, you're going to feel overwhelmed. Instead, resolve to empty your inbox every day before you head home. Set a time to check your email, and act on it as soon as you open it. Answer it and delete it, or put it on your to-do list for later and file it away.
Doing tasks yourself can save money, but remember: Time -- not money -- is the most valuable resource you have. If you’d have to spend all weekend learning how to repair a leak in your AC unit or you have to head home early to mow your lawn, consider delegating the task to someone else. Save your time for stuff you enjoy and excel at.
6. Eat your frogs
This saying has often been attributed to Mark Twain:
If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.
Most of us avoid the things we don’t want to do and we keep putting them off, which causes more stress. Instead, learn to tackle your least favorite task first thing in the morning. Once it's out of the way, the dread won’t slow you down anymore and you’ll get more accomplished.
7. Make a playlist
Music can work wonders for your productivity. I've found that if I listen to music that makes me happy at work, I'm better at my job. If I listen to music that makes me feel calm, I have an easier time doing chores at home. Find your tunes, make a playlist, and let the music help you get through the day.
8. Purge your time sucks
Take a hard look at your obligations and ask yourself, "Am I doing this because I want to or because I feel like I should?" If you're doing something because you feel obligated or haven't gotten around to quitting, give it up.
Make sure you get a good night's rest. Don’t sacrifice sleep just to get more done. After a while, you'll burn out and actually get less done.
10. Track your time
One of the best things I've done for myself is tracking my time. For a week I wrote down everything I did and how long I spent doing it. After the week was up, I looked at the results and could clearly see that I was spending too much time on a variety of tasks.
You will work better and get more done if you give yourself time to unplug and unwind. At least once a day, shut off your email, stop checking social networks, and do something you love. Whenever you have vacation time, take it, even if you just stay home. Giving yourself time to recharge really will pay off.
More on Money Talks News:
I bought a big dry erase white board and markers. My to do list is now up on the wall where I cannot not see it, unlike a piece of paper/s that get shoved in my purse or left on the table. (or rewritten dozens of times!) Instead of crossing things off the list I can erase it and add easily. I can have multiple lists going for the day, week, month, next month. Also an area to check off regular items every month, so I can see if it was done this month or not. I write important items that are added I need to remember. I use red markers for urgent attention items. Things that need to be done in order can be numbered randomly on the board and erased in number order as the steps are done.
Before this I was using a giant paper calender. It was getting messy every month. So much better with the dry erase board.
The saying is "If the first thing that you to do in the morning is to eat a live frog, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that it's probably the worst thing that's going to happen to you all day."
The point is the sooner in the day we tackle an unpleasant task, the easier the rest of our day will be. We tend to procrastinate when it comes to unpleasant tasks, putting them off during the day. But that just makes the entire day unpleasant because of knowing that what we still have to do it is hanging around our neck as a burden. On the other hand, if we force ourselves to do the unpleasant thing first thing, we are freed from it and the rest of the day will go much easier.
mow shooting range 3 acres of grass
weed eat shooting range
paint shooting range
buy 12 bags of sand and put in sand box
mow my own yard
weed eat my yard
apply insect killer to yard
plant new grass seed
the list goes on
Due to whatever reason (that I'm tired of discussing with life coaches) I tend to be melancholy about life in general. I am overall a moderately depressed person. Once I figured that out I've decided recently to start my day listening to IL VOLO, a trio of young men from Italy who do opera-pop concerts. I find them on youtube for free and just recently began buying their cds.
As long I wear my headphones I am definitely neither sad nor confused about what my next move should be. Get stuff done? check check check!! Make money and meeting decisions, juggle commitments with clients, pay bills...check check check!
Listening to them is the best decision I've made to move forward, go to work, get stuff done and feel more optimistic about each day and myself.
I don't wake up feeling any better than usual, except now I keep my headphones by the bed and listen to at least one song. If it's Saturday or Sunday, I try to find an old B Movie so that I can start the day laughing.
wow. Strawberry247 just told me what to do and I didn't even ask!!!! She said...volunteer at an animal shelter, get a dog. I've taken in strays for decades, found them homes. I have a rescue puppy already. I'm tired of taking in stray dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, people. This is my year to say "God, somebody else help out these individuals, I'm tired."
Believe me, volunteering is exhausting!!!!!!!!!!!, Strawberry247, and NO THANKS!
Thanks for sharing. This list was very helpful. I do not have the energy that I use to have. I trying to start a home business, so I will make this list a guide line to my success. Lets see if I can make this this work.
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