How To Get Things Done
I'm far from an expert on 'efficiency', but you're probably reading this because likely neither are you. This is our journey together and some notes on the things I have found helpful.
1. Being on your computer doesn't necessarily mean you are accomplishing things.
I run a video content agency remotely. This means my world is emails, digital marketing, research, etc. I've found I can sit down at the computer and just open my email, Quickbooks, Asana, Google Drive, etc. I'm just opening all the things I 'need', instead of starting with a task.
I'm on my computer, which makes me believe 'I'm at work'. That's not always the case though, especially for those like me who feel a sense of accomplishment through simply appearing successful (read up on my enneagram number, 3). This is where distractions like LinkedIn, touring other company websites, news, etc can creep in as time stealers.
Here are a couple ideas if you find yourself with the same struggle;
- Go for a walk with a notebook. Clear your head, get your creativity flowing, and jot down any problems you solve along the way.
- Go for a drive. Pick music you feel aligns with what you're working on and allow your brain to do it's thing! I've even heard there's some science behind it, but either way it works for me.
- Give into the distraction! This will seem to fly in the face of #5 below, but let yourself tackle some LinkedIn time or read up on the news, etc. Here's the clincher though; set a timer for yourself. Say; 'For the next 15 minutes, I'm going to give my brain the distraction it wants and then we're back to work.'
2. Creating a clean workspace can lead to more empowered work.
Be nice to yourself with a good feeling workspace! I think if you work in a place that feels great, your work will match. This aligns with the idea of, 'dress for the job you want'. I've found that cleaning up my desk, taking out the trash, removing all 16 coffee mugs (you know who you are) all really helps reset my brain to efficiency and order.
So if you're reading this at a highly cluttered desk, maybe it's time to take 15 minutes and reset yourself.
3. Outsource the things that really drag you down.
You've heard the term, 'Jack of all trades, master of none'. It's important to realize the things you are the master of and figure out how to let go of the things you aren't. For example, just before writing this my bookkeeper found an error in our payroll tax from last year. I called quickbooks and the person might as well have been speaking Latin (which I failed as a high school freshman).
It was on this call I realized; I could dig into this, learn, and figure out a fix or I can let my bookkeeper call and have them speak latin together. This may end up costing more money, but here are some general reasons to let go of this task;
- The problem will get fixed faster by an expert
- It will cost my brain and heart more stress to figure it out and I will be more tired for my other tasks
- Learning to fix this issue isn't a benefit for the future of my company
There are other reasons and you can check out my post about Finding Your Genius to learn more about what you should and shouldn't be doing.
4. Do your most 'creative' work first, then tackle all those emails.
I've heard this from a handful of sources, and it definitely feels true. Emails are, "The to-do list that anyone can add to". I find that emails are rarely pressing enough to make answering in the afternoon versus the morning terribly important.
Beyond what people say about doing the most creative work first, I find that when you accomplish your biggest task first it motivates you for the rest. Also, emails tend to create lots of little tasks to accomplish instead of making major accomplishments.
5. Finish what you start, then move on to the next thing.
I put this last because it has been my kryptonite. I start something, say, a blog post and halfway through I think of something 'more important' to do. I stop and switch to that. God forbid that be checking my email and I fall right into the trap of #4 above.
For me as a great starter, but bad finisher, I hit a 'this isn't fun anymore' wall. Unfortunately, this can be enough to sway me from one task to another. The driving fear here is that I have 10 things I want to accomplish today, but my realistic self knows I can only do 7 of those. Then, as a way of making myself feel better I work towards completion on all 10 at the same time, but never actually accomplish one item fully. I need to dig in, have some grit, and just get the first task done completely.