getting things done

4 Things You Must Do To Get Things Done!

Getting things done is a topic of many websites out there these days, and they all say different things.  How is a person supposed to get anything done when there are so many sites to read on how to get things done?!?  I don’t subscribe to any specific guru out there, but here are a few ways that I have stayed productive for the last several years.  These methods might not be ground breaking, but they work for me, and I think they will work for you too.

Create Small Lists

I take an 8 1/2×11 sheet of paper and fold it in half three times, and use one side to make my list.  This accomplishes a few things.  First it keeps my list short, which requires me to only put my high priority items on the list.  Second, I can carry it around with me easily during the day so I can mark things off of the list.  This is very motivating.  Finally it saves paper; I just refold it for the next list!  Keeping a small list makes the to-do list less overwhelming and more manageable.

Put Everything in a Calendar

I put everything in my calendar.  The good thing about this is that I don’t have to remember things, I just check my calendar the night before (more on this later) and I end up making all my meetings.  The bad thing about this is that if it isn’t in my calendar, it doesn’t get done.  This has taken some training of the people around me as well as some discipline on my part to keep it up to date.  In the beginning there were a couple missed meetings and phone calls, but the world didn’t come to an end, and now not many things slip through the cracks.  Whether you keep a calendar in hard copy form or digital form is up to you.  I use Google calendar because I can sync it between all of my computers and devices so I don’t miss anything.  Also, a great tool for training the people around you is Timebridge.  This allows you to provide a web page to people so they can schedule time with you based on the availability on your calendar.  I use this all the time, and it prevents a lot of back and forth when scheduling meetings.

Have Everything Accessible

This is very important to me.  I try to get everything in digital form, and put it in a place where I can access it from wherever I am at the time.  There are many tools that make this easy, but the one that I use is Evernote.  This allows you to capture things in many different ways, and access them from an online website, or sync them between multiple computers or mobile devices.  The other thing I use is an iPhone.  This has become a device I cannot live without.  This particular brand is not required, but some type of smart phone is a great time saver.  You get to carry around your calendar, contacts, and anything else you can access on the Internet through sites like Evernote.  Additionally, there are thousands of applications out there to help you do everything.  I still write my to-do list on paper though.

Plan the Night Before

Each evening, right before I go to bed, I look at my calendar for the next day.  This allows me to identify any special events that require something outside the norm, such as an early meeting or a late meeting that will cause me to miss dinner with my family.  This also allows me to get a good night’s rest because I am not worrying that I am missing something important for the next day.

There you have it, four simple things that have enabled me to accomplish an enormous amount of stuff in a single day.  They may not be cutting edge, but they have worked for me for a long time!  What are some ways that you use to deal with the avalanche of things in your life?

When he is not flying around the world securing complex computing systems, Sean Mathena runs Find Your Peak where he helps people to achieve peak performance in every area of their life.  Let him help you improve your life by visiting Find Your Peak today!

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14 Responses to 4 Things You Must Do To Get Things Done!

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  2. Farouk says:

    i agree that lists can help make the person more productive, nice one sean, thanks :)

  3. I really like what you said about the to-do list.
    The only way I get things done is by working with a list, prioritizing the list. I use a method called the ABCDE system. I prioritize my list setting what has to be done as A, what should be done B, what would be nice to do C, the things I need to delegate as D and the tasks that need eliminating as E.
    Once the list is done all you do is start with the A tasks, when all the A tasks are done, move on to B and so on.

    I really agree with you on planning the night before as it has proven benefits as it activates your subconscious mind and lets it work on the list all night, usually giving you a burst of new ideas to implement the next morning.

  4. Robin Alley says:

    Make a list, make it accessible and get a reminder. That’s the short of it, and it’s good advice!

    What’s worked for me is to simply keep small pieces of paper (I cut up scrap paper actually) and when I have something I really want to get done soon I write it down. This works quite well for simple things you may forget.

    For larger or more important matters it’s best to keep it more formal. Like the article points out, calendars and phone/pda reminders are a huge help!

  5. Making a list is good. But sometimes you have to be spontaneous. You have to sometimes wing it. Because routines bring along a dull and boring life. Be organized but also spontaneous.

  6. Varrla says:

    I like your idea about the small piece of paper to write out you to-do list. I tend to think about what I would like to achieve for the month then break it down to a daily list of a maximum of 4 things. This makes the task much more achievable.

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    Excellent read!

  8. Epic says:

    I always have not only to-do list, but to-buy list, long-term to-do list etc. It’s very complicated, but I don’t miss anything, I write it down right away and cross it out when it’s done. I like the feeling of being organised and that nothing is forgotten, even if I don’t complete all of the tasks, I’ll do it later. And when I go to the particular part of the city I make a list of all the tasks I must do there. I also write down the thoughts, conclusions, quotes. It’s great that can see your achievements and growth

  9. Guy Farmer says:

    Great tips Sean. It’s so much easier to do a little bit of painless planning to avoid always running in crisis mode. I’ve noticed that people can relax much more and live a more stress-free life when they do a little bit of organizing.

  10. yes, those are great tips. organisation is great way to manage time effectively

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  14. I concur. Also, I find that if my desk and room are a mess, then my mind just goes into a mess too. Who was the person who said that famous quote: “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” ?

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