A Step-By-Step Guide To Getting Things Done While Working Your 9–5
Let’s face it, you have goals and dreams that exist outside of your day job. Contrary to what your boss thinks there’s more to your life than sitting in ridiculous meetings and punching your time card. I get it. After a certain point being a dreamer isn’t enough, but how do you get shit done when your peak productivity hours happen while you’re at work? Well, Superstar, this is when you get strategic about your time and the goals that you want to accomplish.
It’s completely possible to achieve your goals and get things done while working a full-time job. You just have to put a plan into place to make it happen. This guide walks you step-by-step through what you need to have worked out in order to effectively accomplish your goals even if you have a limited amount of time to complete them.
STEP 1. Figure out how much time you have available after hours
You don’t have a full forty hours to dedicate to your goals, so it’s important that you take a hard look at your schedule and do an audit of your time. Use a spreadsheet to map out your weekly time commitments. You’re not just accounting for time away from your home; you’re also determining how long it takes you to get ready, commute, meal prep and any other recurring schedule commitments you have. Then, you need to block off time for family and unwinding before bed. The time left over is what you can realistically spend working on your goals.
STEP 2. Get clear about what you’re working on
Have you taken the time to get clear on what you actually want to achieve and the work required to make it happen? If you haven’t then you need to do that before you move any further. Remember: your time is limited so you should have a clear vision for how you see things panning out. You also need to have a plan of action in place. What will you be working on after hours? This action plan is how you’re going to ensure that you are making progress toward your end goal.
At the beginning of every week, you need to sit down and plan the work that you will be working on for the week. Planning ahead will prevent you from wasting time trying to find something to do. You’ll also be able to execute on your ideas faster when you have a clear understanding of what needs to be done in relation to your time restrictions.
STEP 3. Prioritize your work
Now that you’re clear about what you’re working toward, it’s time to get your priorities in check. I understand that you have many things that need to get done, but they don’t all need to be done at once. Your time is limited so make the most of it by focusing, prioritizing and planning the most important work first.
I define important work as…
things that will generate an income on completion
a necessary task on your goal list
tasks with a deadline
work that someone is waiting to receive from you to move forward
Be brutal when auditing the task list of work that you need to get done. Smaller tasks and busy work get your attention after important work is completed or not at all.
STEP 4. Batch schedule your days
When you sit down at the beginning of the week to plan out your work use batch scheduling to group together similar tasks. Batch scheduling will improve your productivity because you’ll be spending less time switching between tasks. For example, if you need to write a blog post and newsletter, you can batch schedule the writing for one longer writing block versus two separate blocks.
I like to take batching a bit further by having create and admin days. Create days are when I work on tasks that will move my business forward. Think creating new programs, developing content and implementing a strategy. Admin days are when I work on administrative tasks that keep my business afloat. Tasks like accounting, planning strategy and research. Create days generally require more mental energy so make sure you account for that when scheduling your week.
Pro Tip: Schedule admin on days that are typically more demanding at your day job.
STEP 5. Fix Your Focus Problem
Here’s the thing about achieving your goals: you actually have to do the work! This requires a great deal of discipline and dedication. Unfortunately, many of us have ridiculously depleted amounts of willpower, discipline and focus. It’s a byproduct of living in this digital age and being taught to multitask. We have trained ourselves to eat dinner while watching TV (this leads to overeating) and write blog posts while scrolling through Facebook (you aren’t getting much writing done if you aren’t even in your writing software).
Multitasking is ineffective and inefficient. When you set out to work after hours, commit to focusing only on the scheduled task. You’ll find that you’ll finish your work quicker. If you struggle to focus and eliminate distractions, I suggest you try the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique requires you to set a timer and focus for 25 minutes on a single task uninterrupted before you get a 5-minute break.
STEP 6. Plan a self-care day
You can’t go hard all the time. For your health and sanity, you must give yourself time to recharge. I suggest taking one day a week and declaring it your self-care day. You can catch up on your favorite TV shows, visit with friends and family or read a book. Whatever it is, make sure you put the hustle on pause and enjoy some time not working.
Remember a well-oiled machine doesn’t grind. If you’re ready to get things done put your plan into place and get to work.