Friday, June 24, 2011

How to get more done!

So much to do, so little time?  Feeling unorganized?  Missed a deadline or two?  Not getting enough of the things that matter done in a day?  Does this sound like you?
We work hard to create a life worth living.   A life that enables us to do the things we love, like work and volunteer, enjoy time with family and friends.  This full life does not always mean that time is on our side.  Sometimes the multitude of things we try to do in a day can often make us feel unorganized and overwhelmed and that can make us put off the things we know we need to do.  Often, the very flexibility we work so hard to instill in our schedule is actually the very thing adding to our level of stress.
With simple tools and a plan to allow for structure and flexibility to co-exist you can overcome procrastination and feel more organized to truly find the freedom to love your life and get more done in a day.
Discover the truth. To uncover the real roadblocks, start by being honest with yourself.  Explore the real reason why something is not getting done when it should.  It is not usually for the reason(s) you think like just being busy.  Procrastination shows up for many reasons.  Are you procrastinating because the project or task is too big and you really need to chunk it down first?  Or is it because you need help in the form of more information or support?  Is the project something within your skill set?  Do you understand what truly needs to be done?  Or is it a matter of not feeling inspired?  Whatever the reason, you must identify first in order to combat it.  It is often the "mental clutter" that gets in our way.
Set and manage your goals. Create a clear plan of obtainable goals.  Sometimes we overestimate what we can get done in a day.  I coach my clients to work from a daily to-do list.  I encourage them to create a list of only 5 or 6 things that they can commit to completing on that day.  Be specific about what you can accomplish.  Don't tell yourself that you are going to do "as much as I possibly can" today.  This is to vague of a plan and you will never feel like you got enough done.  Choose your goals based on a realistic plan that is manageable and takes into account your schedule, energy and commitment to getting it done.
Establish priorities. Of all the things on your to-do list; what is the most important thing item on the list that will have the greatest impact on your goals?  This is the item to tackle first.  Don't focus on the easy stuff first!  The easy stuff is not what usually has the most impact on your business or your goals.
From to-do list to calendar - Once you have created that daily to-do list (preferably the night before) now it is time to get out your calendar and block the appropriate amount of time needed to get the job(s) done.  Once the time is blocked, you must commit to it and only focus on the project within the time block.  Don't allow outside intrusions like phone calls, emails, tweets and updates to distract you and become disastrous interruptions.  Instead, schedule 30 minute breaks between your time blocks to check those emails and voice mails.  Knowing that you have that time to "plug back in" will allow you to have greater focus on your to-do's.
Manage your time. Most of my clients are small business owners and Independent Contractors and they will all tell you that one of the first things I encourage them to do is get clear on your time and set business hours.  In order to be truly productive we need structure.  The more structure you create in your professional life the more freedom and flexibility you will have in your personal life.  It's true!  Learning to separate time for work and play is crucial to living a healthy and balanced life that feels more harmonious than frustrating.  Establishing business hours (and communicating those hours to the public) will allow you to do more and be more effective when you are working.  It's important to schedule family time, fun time, vacation time and even daily down time too.  For most of us, it's true that if it is not on our calendar it does not happen.  So to make sure those things happen, schedule it!
Avoid distractions. Learn to say no sometimes!  It is that simple.  If someone inn your office, home or neighborhood engages in a conversation with you that is taking you away from the important things that need to get done, tell them you can't talk right now and you need to go back to work.  You don't have to say yes every time a friend invites you to coffee or lunch either.  Now, I am not saying you can't enjoy yourself and have fun too but lets be clear about where your focus should be at that moment.  Last minute invites should not take precedence over what you already have time blocked.  Make plans to catch up at another time that will not interfere with your business goals.  A good rule of thumb ... Business needs to be done during business hours; socializing is before and after those hours!
Manage your volunteer work, don't let it manage you! if you are like me, you probably belong to a few organizations and associations both professional and personal.  I enjoy the roles I have in these numerous organizations.  I enjoy volunteering my time and contributing to something that is bigger than myself.  I have met some wonderful people and learned a lot about myself and the world we live in because of it.  I have also added to my professional network and often experience the opportunity to create business opportunities too.  However, I would not feel fulfilled if the time I put into these organizations left me feeling mentally and physically exhausted and depleted.  So many of the ideas I have shared in this article will help you to do more and enjoy more through your volunteerism too.

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