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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