One of my favorite quotes is from Stephen King, who once said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” One method isn’t necessarily better than the other, but when you have deadlines and other people waiting on your work, it’s probably for the best if you just get up and get it done. While I don’t claim to have all of the answers and best working styles, I’ve gotten pretty good at getting things done. Here are some of my favorite go-to’s when I have a large volume of work.
Most working people decide to complete their tasks and projects because they have to. Unfortunately, having to do something isn’t as exciting as wanting to do it, and when you don’t want to do something, it can be hard to get anything done.
Don’t fall into this trap. Knowing why you want to do something, whether it’s because you want to show someone you’re skilled, you want to make a good impression, or you genuinely love your job, will help you stay motivated and excited to work. So think for a moment, what’s motivating you?
If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself, find out what would make doing your work easier and make it happen. Maybe you give yourself a longer break mid-day if you finish X amount of work. Maybe you corral the team into 3-minute celebration dance parties after closing a deal. The point is to find something you can be rewarded with to keep you excited, on track, and motivated.
Schedule Work Blocks & Force Time Crunches
Ever notice how much work you crank out on the day before a trip? Why does that day become hyper-productive but all others pale in comparison? It’s because you have a time crunch and you have to get the work done.
It’s easy to work time crunches into your daily and weekly schedule to keep you on track and cruising through your work. Here are a few ways you can get yourself producing more:
- Schedule blocks on your calendar that range from 30 minutes to 3 hours and set a task or project to complete in that timespan. When the block is up, so is your work. Move onto the next task.
- Take your laptop to another room or coffee shop, without the charger, and know you only have until your battery dies to complete your work (I recommend starting on a full charge).
- Test out the Pomodoro Method and work in 30 minute blocks with short breaks in between.
- Give yourself a challenge to finish X, Y, and Z by a certain time in the day. Reward yourself for completing your goal.
Meet the Working Meeting
Meetings and work go hand-in-hand, and if you’re smart, you’ll use it to your advantage. How many times have you sat in a meeting, passively listening to a lead, only to leave the meeting with a long list of to-do’s and follow-ups you know you’ll inevitably forget? It happens a lot, and we’re all guilty of it. Instead of using the meeting as a discussion only, take the next step and turn the meeting into a working session where everyone collaborates while the topics and chatter are fresh on everyone’s mind.
In order for working meetings to work, you should only work on micro tasks and projects, unless your meeting is solely a work session. These are tasks such as:
- email follow-ups
- outreach to a new contact
- outlines of drafts and templates
Basically, you want to work on things that are small, quick, and easily forgettable but highly important. We all know what tasks those are.
Planning is Your Friend
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Do you come into work in the morning, frazzled, wondering where you should start and what needs to be done? Does most of your morning consist of organizing your tasks? If this is you, it’s time you start planning.
Take 30 minutes at the end of every single day make a to-do list for tomorrow. On top of making the to-do list, prioritize that list like so:
- important and due immediately
- not important but due immediately
- important and not due immediately
- not important and not due immediately
Allocate time to each task, based on an estimate, so you know how much time everything will require.
Here’s a sample to-do list:
- Respond to day-old emails (30 minutes)
- Generate and send reports to KC schools (2 hours)
- Process purchases (45 minutes)
- Check-in with 6 deals + notes (4 hours)
- End of day follow-ups (30 minutes)
- Miscellaneous daily tasks (30 minutes)
- Plan for tomorrow (30 minutes)
By organizing your to-do list by due date and importance, you’re prioritizing your work and creating a guide to be efficient and valuable.
If you’re having trouble prioritizing your to-do’s, think about the following:
- What is your quarterly goal?
- What are the company goals?
- What would you like to have complete at the end of the week? And month?
- What have you been putting off?
Expend Energy Efficiently
In addition to organizing your list properly and allocating the right amount of time to each task, you’ve also set yourself up to work in an energy efficient manner. What does that mean? It means you’re going to work, top-down, starting with the most important tasks and spending the bulk of your energy on what matters. As you work down the list, the importance level drops, as does your energy, which is okay. By working smartly, you save time, energy, and feel more in control.
By making little tweaks to your daily schedule and putting in a bit of time for planning, you’re setting yourself up for a successful day, week, and career. I hope these tips help to keep you focused and on track. What are some of your favorite productivity tips?