Getting More Done

I live my life setting goals. That sounds really important but in reality, it just means that at the beginning of each month, I make a list of what I want to accomplish during that month. At the beginning of each week, I write down three things that I will get done during that week to help me reach my goals. (More about this process in a future blog.)

Most of the time my checklist is motivating enough for me to push myself to finish every task I need to do to reach my goal. Other times I use the excuse that I can do it tomorrow. So, my goals keep getting pushed out farther and farther.

Then, I went on vacation and something miraculous happened.

Every single task on my checklist was completed. I was motivated, focused, and determined to finish every item on that list because I wanted to go on vacation and be able to relax. I thought to myself, “How can I accomplish tasks as if I am ‘going on vacation tomorrow’ every single day?”

If you want something done, ask a busy person. Have you heard that before?

Busy people know how to manage their tasks and get things done. Before my vacation, I was busy. I had a lot to do in a very short amount of time. And I had a deadline – the date and time my plane was leaving.

But I still felt like there was another element I was missing in trying to figure out how I could motivate myself to finish all the tasks on my list each week. In my research, I found Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s Law is this, “Work expands to fill the time necessary for its completion.”

This means that if you allow an hour to write your blog post, it will take an hour. If you allow three hours to write your blog post, it will take three hours.” Whatever time you have set aside for a task, the task will fill up that time slot. In other words, if you have “tomorrow” to do a task, you most likely will push it off to tomorrow.

I found two time-efficiency tools to help me accomplish more in less time.

The first is called Time Blocking. Imagine your kitchen utensil drawer for a moment. Every single person I know who has forks, knives, and spoons owns a container to separate these three types of utensils. We usually have some extra space around this container for some additional tools, but that’s it. Our time can be separated and organized in the same way as our utensil drawer. We all have 24 hours in a day and only so many things will fit into those one-hour blocks of time.

Let’s say my three main tasks for the day are to write my blog, create social media posts, and work on a new product. I also have my daily tasks such as check and respond to email, fill orders, and daily bookkeeping.

In an 8-hour day, I “block” the hours I want to do each task. For example, I will dedicate 1 hour for daily tasks, 2 hours for blog writing, 2 hours for social media, and 3 hours for product development. The exciting thing that happens is that since I only allowed 2 hours for writing my blog, I am not only finished within the 2 hours, often I have time left over so I can begin to outline future blog articles. I use the entire 2 hours for blog writing.

During my blocked time for product development, I never really complete a project fully during the time allowed because this is an ongoing project. Time blocking helps me because I work on one focused task for the time I have blocked. For three hours, I work on product development and when my three hours are up, I move on to the next task or time block.

In conjunction with Time Blocking, I like to use the Pomodoro Technique.

This technique helps to keep me stay focused on the current task. The technique is simply to take a 5-minute break for every 25 minutes you work. It gives me “permission” to take a breather, walk around, stretch, and then get back to my task. I find myself eager to get back to focused work after enjoying a little break.

Time blocking helps me to maintain the work-life balance and the Pomodoro technique helps me to stay focused. When I accomplish my tasks for the day, I feel so productive. The more efficiently I work, the more time I free up for myself to do things I enjoy. I may even schedule another vacation!

I encourage you to click on the links below to read more about these tools. Then you can develop a plan that works for you. I would love to hear from you and how you manage your work schedule.

Time Blocking Articles:

Time Blocking

How to Use Time Blocking to Manage Your Day 

Pomodoro Technique Articles:

The Pomodoro Technique

Productivity 101: An Introduction to the Pomodoro Technique