The answer may just surprise you a bit. And it doesn’t have to do with getting up at 2 am.
The secret to getting more done in one day is pretty simple and it all comes back to my favorite word EVER.
But this time I am talking about decluttering your schedule.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
There are so many things we do every day that are cluttering up our schedules. Things that do not need to be on our to-do list. Things that are hiding the important tasks that need to get done. It is masking those tasks so they get lost in the clutter of our schedules and get forgotten because they may not be as easy to do as those cluttered things.
Think about that for just a second.
If you have say 9 items on your to-do list that you need to get done today. Let’s just jot them down on a piece of paper and take a look at them quickly.
- Make the bed
- Do the dishes
- Fill out loan documents
- Start dinner
- Sign papers for a field trip
- Iron Hubby’s shirt for work
- Feed the dog
- Set up a budget for the month
- Call mom for her Birthday
When you have a list like this it tends to give equal importance to everything on it. So making the bed is just as important as filling out loan documents. It also can be easy with this list to do the simple things first. This will at the very least give you something to check off before the day is over, right? Well sure, but that is not our goal. We do not want to get the most done, we want to get things done efficiently. With that goal in mind, we need to do the most important things first.
So, how do we fix this?
We revamp, prioritize, and schedule our lists and our days to get more done.
This is the secret sauce to getting more done every single day. It’s so incredibly simple and yet it works so crazy well! Just by tweaking your to-do list, you will find that you are not only able to get more done but you are more focused and less distracted.
GET MORE DONE IN LESS TIME. THE PERFECT TO-DO LIST.
Step #1 Do a brain dump
Now, if you have been here before then you know already just how much I love and rely on a good brain dump. If you are new here, then let’s take a look at this super important step.
A brain dump is getting all the things that are taking up space in your head down on paper so you can get more done. This really helps to cut the stress that a cluttered mind always seems to bring. Take right now for instance. Are you reading this article word for word? Or, rather, is your head in another place thinking of something else that needs your attention while your eyes are only looking at the words.
Ha-Ha…..Gotcha didn’t I!?
A perfect to-do list will keep your head stay in the moment so you are better able to focus on what you are doing right here, right now. This will keep you from having to reread paragraphs or ask a friend to repeat what she just said. By always being in the moment you will absorb more and forget less.
How great is that?!
Take a piece of paper right now and do a brain dump. Get it all out and all down on paper. Every single thing that is needling the back of your head that needs to be done. No matter how silly. No matter how small. Get it out and get it down so you get more done.
Step #2 Prioritize your list to get more done.
If you stop and take a look at your brain dump list I am sure you will find some minor things with some pretty important tasks mixed in. What you need to do is separate the important tasks so they stand out front and center where they belong.
Take a highlighter and right now go through your list and highlight the items that need your attention first. I am talking about any tasks that either have a deadline or are pressing on your mind. So you would not, for example, highlight take out the trash as a high priority item.
If you find you have some tasks that are a high priority and others that are still important but not as much, then grab another highlighter and go through your list again. You can have as many colors as you want to make this system work.
NO COLOR-no priority
Step #2 Delegate your to-do list to get more done
Now I am not telling you to pawn your to-do list off on your spouse or kids, although that would be so awesome! What I mean by delegate is to assign each task on your brain dump list to a particular day.
Go through each item you just wrote down and assign a day this week to make sure it gets done or at the very least some attention is paid to it.
This is the secret sauce to getting more done in less time. By assigning a day for each priority task you remove the nagging in your head and you can now work on the list with a completely focused mind.
SLCG PRO TIP: Do you still want to delegate? Go for it! Now that you have your minor chores figured out those are the ones you can give to your kids to do or sneak them on Hubby’s honey-do list!
Step #3 Set a time
I don’t know about you, but there is nothing worse than beginning a project only to find it is taking longer than I had imagined. This is just so frustrating to me and I am left with only three choices.
- Do things half hazard and be happy with it.
- Finish it another time and risk forgetting all about it.
- Give up without completing it.
The funny thing is we can prevent any of this from happening with one simple step. Set a time for each priority task.
Yes, that’s all you need to do.
By knowing just how long a project is going to take before you dive in will let you know when you need to start it in order to see it to completion. If the project is longer than one day will allow, then on your schedule write:
- Project “name of the task”-part one
- Project “name of the task”-part two
- Project “name of the task”-part three
Now you know you will actually need 3 days in order to complete this one project. No more half-finished or rush jobs. Get it done, do it right, and completely check it off your list.
Step #4 Make sure you actually finish before you check it done
I have this friend we will call her Sally. She would always say things like. “My house is completely cleaned, I just need to dust.” or “I have all of my holiday shopping done, except for my Husband.” or “We are completely debt-free, except for one small credit card.”
The funny thing is, this to her was DONE. She believed she did just enough to complete the item on her list and she was ready to move on. What did that leave her? A whole bunch of unfinished high priority tasks and twice as much unnecessary items on her to-do list. Items that she now needed to do to complete her priority tasks.
I cannot tell you how counterproductive this is. When you tackle a task you need to get in, get out and completely finish it before you check it as done so you get more done.
Step #5 Set your day up for success
Does this sound like you?
You head down to the bathroom to collect the dirty clothes, on the way you see a drinking glass in the family room. You go in to pick it up and notice a few DVDs on the TV stand. You collect those and put them away. Next, you see the pillows are on the floor so you pick them up and put them up back on the couch. Then you grab the blanket and put it away as well. Finally, you take the glass into the kitchen and put it in the dishwasher.
Oh dear, the sink is stacked with dirty dishes. You get busy loading up the dishwasher which is now full so you run it. While you are there you grab a cup of coffee take a sip and think….what was I doing again???
If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Daily distractions happen to the best of us. The trick is to find a way to keep our heads focused and in the game. This is the key to productivity. Staying on task will, in turn, allow you to get more done.
The easiest way to do this is to use block scheduling. If you are new to block scheduling you can read all about it here. Block Scheduling 101: Get More Done In Your Already Busy Day. But a quick overview is this, blocking out times during your day to focus on a certain task or chore.
So for me, I like to block out 5am-8am for blogging and writing. That means every day I know my blog will get the attention it needs. Any items on my to-do list that pertain to my blog will get completed during those times.
Blocking out sections of time is HUGE. Messy house? Block out 3 hours every Saturday and know it will always get done. Behind on your bills? Block out a few hours each Friday morning and there is another important task off your list. Long list of errands? Block out an afternoon after work to run all of your errands for the week and no more forgotten tasks.
Since I began block scheduling I have gotten so much more done because I am forcing myself to stay on task knowing it is only temporary.
Step #6 Start and finish your day right
I cannot tell you how much a morning and evening routine will completely change your to-do list. By doing a few chores every single day you will be amazed at how much more time you have to use.
Think about it this way. Do you always have laundry on your to-do list? What about dishes? Or pick up clutter from the day before? How about making your bed? Or make all the beds? We all have these tasks to perform each day. By making a morning/evening routine you will do these things on autopilot and can put your focus on the important tasks on your list.
There are no rules here. Just try to keep your routine to a reasonable time. You do not want to be faced with a 2-hour routine each morning. You can get quite a bit done in just 30 minutes, especially if you are doing the same things every single day.
By having a list of chores you do every single morning and evening and you will find a to-do list that is streamlined and focused so you can get more done.
Step #8 Procrastination
I am a notorious procrastinator. Crazy right? I would rather postpone a big chore in favor of the easier ones. Easy is fast. I like fast. If this sounds like you I have a little tip that just might help.
Look at your to-do list right now. Do you see things on there that have been on your list for quite a while now? Chores or projects that you dread so much that you keep skipping over them?
I like to call these little pests Back Burner Tasks. Back Burner tasks or BBT’s are things we keep putting on the back burning telling ourselves they will get done eventually. The problem is they never really do. Our goal now that we are productivity ninjas is to get those BBT’s off our list and DONE.
Go to your list right now, if you see anything on there that resembles a Back Burner Task I want you to write BBT next to it. Now, for the upcoming week or month pick a day on your schedule that you know is a free day. A day free of distractions (the kids are all in school) a day that you can focus all your attention on something without interruption (hubby is at work). That is your BBT day. Your goal is to get that BBT done and off your list.
This tip alone will get more done than you ever imagined. Why? Because getting a long overdue project or chore that has been cluttering up your head for months completed is a huge motivator and will light a fire under you so you will want to get even more done.
Seriously, just try it. I dare ya!
Cleaning out your schedule is the secret sauce to getting more done. Dump it, prioritize it, assign it, and complete it. You will be amazed at how much more you will get done every single day by doing this.