“How are you,” is that question although it might come off more like “How ya doin?” You’ll get it from cashiers, waiters, co-workers and your spouse. Sometimes they want to know and sometimes, to be honest, they don’t really want to hear.
Many times, just to shake things up, instead of mumbling “fine,” I’ll grin and say “I’m special.” This will of course make them whip their head around and ask you to repeat or explain yourself.
“Well, you asked how I am and my answer is I am special,” I will answer. It’s sure to bring a laugh, start a joke or conversation.
What it really is, besides being a bit cheeky as the British might say, is an attitude.
Attitude has a lot to do with the ability to get things done. The children’s story “The Little Engine that Could” has endured for generations because that “I think I can” motto of the train resonates with all of us. No doubt when we think we can – we do. When we think we can’t – we don’t.
How’s your “I think I can” attitude been lately?
Besides an attitude adjustment, there are some other practical steps that will help you get more done and manage your day better.
How to Get More Done – With Hacks
Sleep-Eat-Exercise: I know you’ve heard it all before but it bears a reminder. The more you don’t take care of yourself, the more stressed you are. The more stressed you are, the more likely you will get sick. How in the world will you get anything done if you are sick? Make eight hours of sleep your first priority. Add in some exercise even if it is just a 30 minute walk during your lunch time. Stock up on healthy food including healthy snacks for at work. Don’t let junk food weigh you down.
Cull the Clutter: The more junk you have piled around you, the more it weighs you down. The more stressed you are about how much you have to do and the less you get done. If you can’t stop and clean up then try a one thing at a time technique. Make a new plan that every time you touch something you have to put it away. Change your mind on today’s outfit, hang up that other one you got out. Eat something, then put that dish in the dishwasher. Have the mail in your hand? Then toss junk mail now. If you continue that trend, you’ll begin to see a real reduction in clutter.
Be Early: Change your schedule so you start work a half-hour early. That extra half hour of quiet time is super productive for organizing your day and finishing tasks. You can get done a ton of stuff in that extra 2.5 hours – all of which is without interruption.
How to Get More Done – With To-Do-Lists
Highlight- The great thing about a to-do list is it keeps us from forgetting things both big and small. The bad thing about a to-do list is we treat it like a restaurant menu. We ponder and then pick what we feel like doing. Too often, that leaves little time for the big projects or deadline oriented things. Keep a highlighter with your to-do list. Choose 2-3 things each day that are your most important items. Make it your goal to finish the highlighted items each day even if other to-do things get held over to the next day.
Eat Your Frog- This saying represents the worst thing on your to-do list. Your “frog” is that thing you dread doing because it will take too much time or isn’t a task you enjoy. One of the most productive things you can do is to always eat your frog first. Do the worst first and the rest of the day will be smooth.
Capture Thoughts– Add to-do list items as they float through your brain. When you remind yourself to call someone, write it down. Otherwise, your brain will go into a repeat and continue to remind you instead of focusing on the task at hand.
Get Personal- Integrate your personal to-do items with your work ones so you can keep a grip on what needs to get done in a given day.
Stay on Track- Use to-do lists to stay on track with projects. For big projects that won’t be finished in one sitting, start the job with a master checklist of all the steps in that project- or at least as far out as you can project. As you return to that project, you’ll easily be able to see where you left off. Add notes to your to-do list when you stop working on the project so you know what you intended to do next. It saves a lot of reinventing the wheel time!
How to Get More Done – With Calendars
Block Time- Instead of just noting a 10 a.m. meeting, take the time to block out the whole amount of time the meeting will take. You’ll be blocking out 10 to 12. Seeing your time in chunks will help keep you from overscheduling your day. The more realistic you are with your calendar, the calmer you will be. If you are less stressed, you’ll be able to focus and accomplish more.
Big Project Time- Block out time in your week for focus on big projects to keep them moving along. This focused approach will help you meet deadlines. During the time you’ve set aside, be sure to limit distractions and turn off your phone for a bit.
Me Time- If you are not good at me-time, it is really important for you to use your calendar to keep yourself in balance. Look at your calendar and your to-do list and see what you have scheduled just for you. Stepping away from work and projects refreshes your brain and that break helps to renew your energy. If you don’t have things scheduled then make them happen. Make an appointment or two each week for something for you.
Review- End each week with a review of the coming week’s calendar. This gives you a bit of time to juggle or reschedule if you see something isn’t going to work next week. It also helps form clarity in your mind about what needs to get done in anticipation of next week’s calendar.
How to Get More Done – With Apps
No matter what your job entails, there are sure to be apps out there that will help you. The great thing about the apps is there are so many. If you try one and it doesn’t suit your needs, you can try another until you find just the right one.
Search for the terms “productivity apps” to find multiple lists of great apps to try. You’ll find calendar and to-do list apps that move from device to device. Since everyone’s jobs and needs are so personalized, we’re not going to try to send you to a particular app. Instead, start thinking about if you have looked into modern ways to get more done. Set aside a bit of time to look into productivity apps that could help you. Also, do some research into apps designed for your particular career or field. Searching for new apps is another way to stay on top of what is happening in your profession. Consider it educational research.
There’s not one way of being productive. There are many ways that mesh together. Your life will most likely contain a mesh of paper lists, calendars, tips and high tech methods. The important thing is to keep trying until you find a great way that works for you.