No matter what you throw at them, some people seem to have the super-human ability to get things done. Not only that, they get it done fast! How do they do that when you’re struggling to find your energy from day to day? The good news is – there is no super human powers involved. Instead, just some simple habits that you too can cultivate quickly.
1. Eat Well
You are already aware that getting things done requires energy. Thankfully, you can be in complete control of this. Cut out sugar laden food. Learn to choose and enjoy healthful, balanced meals. And get plenty of water. You’ll feel a big difference immediately, helps you be more alert, focused and able to get through your to-do list faster and precisely.
2. Shut The Door
If your home office is in a room, make liberal use of the door. Make it clear to your family, when the door is closed, you are not to be disturbed – at all. Unplug the phone, silence your cell phone. Consider a do-not-disturb sign. If you don’t have the luxury of a home office, consider a noise reduction earmuff and tell your family when these headphones are on, you are unavailable. The plus to this – you can get one that plays music to put you in the right mood for work.
3. Set A Timer
Work expands to fill the time allocated. So don’t let it fill up your entire day. Use a timer to work on a single task in 45–60 minute blocks. Take a short 5 minute break after each time block. After you’ve worked 2–3 blocks, take a longer, 15 – 30 minute break. Try not to fill break time with social media. It’s OK to set the timer for a 15 minute do-nothing break where you kick back, put on some good tunes, close your eyes and relax.
4. A Single Task At A Time
You’ve read it countless times now. Multi-tasking hurts more than it helps. Pick a task on your list, do that and only that. You’ll complete it much faster with a whole lot clarity too. Don’t get me wrong. There are things that can be multi-tasked such as listening to a book while you get your daily walk. That’s because walking doesn’t use a lot of mental energy and you can use that mental energy to focus on the book. However, doing two or more tasks that require a lot of attention at one time, leads to lower performance and sometimes, outright procrastination.
5. Clear Your Workspace
One of the things that Benjamin Franklin did in his daily routine is to “Put things in their places”. He did this at the end of the day. I can only speculate that putting this task at the end of the day is his way of winding down, as well as setting himself up for a fresh start the next day. After all, who is motivated to work when you enter a messy office?
Whether you do it at the beginning of the day or the end doesn’t matter. What matters is doing it.
6. Plan Your Day
This sounds like such a tedious affair but there’s no rule that it has to be. Perhaps that’s why many refrain from this is. Because of over-planning. You don’t need an hour-by-hour plan. That doesn’t work anyway since distractions will pop up over the course of the day. If you have appointments, go ahead and block that time out first. Then, all you need is a short list of the top 3 things you must accomplish for the day.
Some say to do it the night before, some say to do it at the beginning of the day. Don’t let that deter you. Do this when it suits you best (first thing of the day or last). Just don’t skip it.
7. Do It Now
In “Getting Things Done”, productivity guru David Allen recommends adopting a 2-minute rule. If it can be done in 2 minutes or less, do it now. This stops minor tasks from filling your to-do list, making you less motivated to begin when you see how long the list is.
8. Eliminate or Reduce Notifications
Stop those new email notifications. Most emails don’t require your immediate action anyway. Turn off social media notifications especially those that tell you who followed you or who pinned your Pinterest image. You won’t miss a thing because when you decide to log into your account, it’ll show up there anyway.
Do the same for those apps on your phone. Be very choosy which apps you allow to send you push notifications. In fact, you should probably do this first because we tend to want to check our mobile devices first before email.
No matter what line you are in, there are tasks that you perform repeatedly. This can happen in frequent, short cycles or longer cycles (e.g. Quarterly, Yearly). Create a template or system for these tasks. List out the steps and note the ‘gotchas’ that you have to check on. The less you have to think about how and what to do, the faster you will complete it.