If you want to be super productive you do not have to be born that way. Good news, right? Speaking as a self-proclaimed procrastinator I could put things off like nobody’s business. Luckily I was able to turn my “wait until the very last second” attitude around and find a way to get more done in less time with very little effort.
I am sure you have heard the old saying, “We all have the same 24 hours in a day.” I know I have heard it but I paid very little attention to it until now. The other day I heard this slight variation on a podcast, “We all have the same 24 hours in a day as J.Lo does.” This was huge for me.
Because it meant that it’s not the TIME I have that counts so much as how I am actually USING that time.
Let’s think about this just for a minute. Is there someone in your own life that you admire?
- A mom that seems to have it all together. Her kids are neat and actually dressed in matching clothes and her top never has food spills on it?
- A friend that has a constantly neat and tidy home. That actually welcomes unannounced visitors?
- A colleague that is climbing up the ladder by leaps and bounds. Her desk is always organized and she is completely put together?
- The empty nester that bakes bread, has a garden that rivals any magazine, crochet’s gifts and watches her grandkids every day?
For every one of these women, the same holds true. They each only have 24 hours.
Just like we do.
The fact that they are getting so much done is where the secret sauce is. It’s not the time they have, it’s how they are actually using that time.
I will just let that sit for a moment……..
This was HUGE for me. This is where I began to completely change how I scheduled my days to help me better use my time.
Let’s face it, there is no magic potion to give us more hours in a day. Trust me, I’ve tried.
But there is good news!
Over the years I have scoured books, the internet and drilled my productive friends with questions on how they are able to get so much done in a day. The same exact day that I have where it seems to take hours just to get the kitchen cleaned and myself dressed.
I swear I have tried them all. Some worked well, some were epic fails and others were…..well……magic.
This is the best of the best. The cream of the crop. My secret formula for getting more done every single day.
How to Get More Done In Less Time – 8 Tips Of The Super Productive.
Tip #1 Do a weekly brain dump.
I love brain dumps. I use them all the time and they are key to being super productive. Where else can I clear out the clutter in my head? A cluttered head leaves no room for anything else. It fosters stress, keeps you blind to what is around you (like the windshield washer fluid that you have been out of now for 3 weeks) and completely crushes creativity.
A brain dump allows you to get everything out of your head and down on paper so you can let it go. If you have never done a brain dump, it’s simple really. Take a tablet or a sheet of paper and write down every single thing in your head that you need to get done. No matter how small or large, get it all down on paper. Once you have it there (and here are those crazy simple magic words) LET IT GO. No more needling needs to happen because you now have “Call my mother for her Birthday” written down on paper and that means it will absolutely get done.
Tip #2 Prioritize/Prioritize/Prioritize
Have you ever gotten distracted? I mean really REALLY distracted? I am talking head down to the basement to do a load of laundry only to find yourself 2 hours later knee deep cleaning out the chest freezer distracted?
Sure we all do it. We have so many things that call, scream actually, for attention that is easy to get sidetracked. We need to reel in our focus and put it back where it belongs. On our to-do list and only our to-do list.
So, let’s go back to that brain dump we did in step one. Get yourself a cup of coffee and 3 markers or highlighters. Now, go through that brain dump list and assign a priority color to each item. One color for needs done now, one color for needs done soon and one color for needs done eventually.
Make sure you are being honest. “Needs done now” does not mean “I would like to have it done now”. This list isn’t about wants it’s about needs. As we get better control of our time we can change that up a bit, but for now, we are in survival mode so keep it all about needs.
Tip #3 Make a daily list and set it up for success.
I know list-making is probably not your problem. I am sure if you looked around you right now you would find not one list but several. A few dogeared lists that were written up weeks ago that have yet to be finished or maybe a brand new list you just wrote this morning that is 3 pages long!
The key to a successful list and being super productive is to keep it do-able. You need a realistic list that will fit into the time constraints of your day.
You need what I like to call your 3 for 3 daily to-do list. This is the list that will change how you get things done.
You are going to make a list of 9 items you will get done today.
- 3 things that Need to be done.
- 3 things that SHOULD be done.
- 3 things you would LIKE to get done.
Go back to your brain dump that you just prioritized. Take a look at all the items you deemed necessary that need done right away. Pick your top 3 most important items and write then down labeling them Must Be Done! Next, grab 3 more items from your most necessary and write them as Should Be Done. Finally, the last three items labeled Like To Get Done.
This is your 3 for 3 daily to-do list. This short and sweet but oh so powerful list will be your BFF every day from here on in.
Tip #4 Making it all work like magic.
Now that you have your top 9 items on your list how do we make sure those items get done? Simple, you need to make this list your priority and focus on it every day. So, say your 3 Must Be Done items are
- Clean the kitchen.
- Make brownies for the school bake sale.
- Write up a menu and shopping list for next week’s holiday party.
I like to get the most important things done first so I know at the very least my top priority list is completed. I can usually kick out my Must Be Done list in less than a few hours. The best part is that my motivation is cranked since I have already checked off three items and it’s not even noon.
Running through the rest of my list is cake and quickly do-able.
The key to being super productive is to always keep your focus on your list. Your goal every single day is to complete your list or at the very least the 3 items that MUST be done today.
Tip #5 Keep away distractions.
Turn off distractions so you can get more done in less time. Facebook, email, heck even the phone. They are there all the time calling us. Even just checking in can quickly suck away an hour of your time.
Now, I am not saying you can never ever spend time hanging out with your Facebook clan again but there is a time and a place. If you want to be productive then you will want to shut things off for a few hours at the VERY least.
Instead, use Facebook and email as a reward. Once you check off the most important things on your list take a half hour to hang out on Facebook and check emails. Knowing you have something to look forward to can be a real motivator.
For me, I am super productive in the early mornings so I always start with blog work. I dive right in when my creative energy is at it’s best. I put in a good solid 2-3 hours before I look at any social media or email. Having that little “treat” keeps me pushing to get my most important item of the day done and off my list.
Remember you need to be disciplined to stay on track. Shut it off, tune it out and get more done!
Tip #6 Set your timer.
Assigning a set amount of time can really keep you focused and on track. There is nothing more motivating than a deadline. When I know I have just 2 hours to clean my house I will do what I can to get it all done in that time.
This also cuts down on distractions. Getting sidetracked can quickly throw a schedule out the window, when you have a set time you will do all you can to stay on task.
This is why a timer is so effective. If you have a large project on your list that you know will take more than one day to get it done, pick a set time instead. Let’s say you have on your list “sort and organize the garage”. A HUGE chore you have been putting off for years and you know it will take a week to thoroughly complete. Instead of writing down clean the garage let’s instead be specific. Write down this instead:
- spend 1 hour removing all the trash and recyclables from the garage and set up a simple system for sorting items for trash.
Being specific and setting time restraints will be a huge game changer for any large intimidating project.
Tip #7 Do a recap.
I have heard this tip before and I completely ignored it believing it was a waste of time. I mean I was busy enough, how on earth was I going to find time to recap my crazy week? One day I finally did the recap and let me just tell you it was pretty eye-opening.
When I looked at my daily to-do lists and saw just how little I was actually finishing I knew I needed to do a bit more digging. That is when I found I was spending more time on distractions rather than on accomplishing things on my list. I needed to find a way to keep my focus and put all my energy into those top priority items and ensure they were completed on time.
My personal tips for keeping focused:
- First I needed a way to remove any distractions. For me, headphones and a book on tape was the answer. Listening to a book on tape can make any mind-numbing chore easier to do. Weeding the garden, ironing, mowing the lawn is all so much easier when I have a good book to listen to.
- Find a reward. Once the most important items on my list were done I told myself I could take a break and “play”. That was pretty liberating let me tell you. Do the work, get rewarded and get more done at the same time. It is so simple and yet completely genius.
- Listen to music to boost creativity. When I am writing and need to completely tune out the outside world and focus headphones and classical music are my zen. When I have that music playing I can really zone in on what needs to be done and give it my undivided attention.
Yep, I got that all from a weekly recap.
When you do a recap and really looked at what worked and what didn’t it holds you completely accountable. I highly recommend it!
Tip #8 Dress the part.
Yep, I am going to round out this list with the silliest and simplest tip I have. But trust me….it works. 🙂
I learned this little tip years ago and let me just say it makes a world of difference. If you spend your day in pajama bottoms, slippers and a sweatshirt you can expect your productivity to be sluggish at best. Dress for success even if you work from home. From your head to your shoes dress to work and watch your focus match.
I am not sure why it works so well, but when I lace up my sneakers my mind knows that it’s time to get down to business. That I am serious and ready to be productive. Dress the part and your mindset will match.
When learning the best way to get more done in less time you need to try out as many tips as you can. Find what works and what doesn’t so you can custom tailor the perfect time management system. The underlying tip here is simple. I all comes down to focus. Get your head in the game. Know the most important things that need to be done each and every day and keep your eye on the ball.
Remember J.Lo? I can safely say that focus is her superpower and if you want to be a productivity ninja, then focus needs to be your superpower too.
Remember….every minute matters so make each one count. 🙂