How to Get Sh*t Done
Posted by Katie Ostoich on October 8, 2012 at 3:46 PM
One of the things I pride myself on is the ability to be productive. I can really get sh*t done when I need to, and usually get it done well. But I wasn’t always this way. My first semester in college, I really struggled like I’m sure a lot of you did. On my own for the first time, it was way more fun to stay up watching movies and eating pizza than working on a paper or two. And then it’d be due and I’d be outta luck. Let’s just say my grades were not so great. Since then, I’ve learned a thing or two on being productive when I need to. So whether you’re overwhelmed by that never-ending to-do list or simply distracted (thanks, Facebook), sometimes we don’t get enough out of the day. And while 30-hour days don’t exist, there are some tips for getting more done in the 24 we have.
Create A RoutineMake a habit of, well, sticking to habits. Go to the gym after work or decide to only check Facebook for 15 minutes before you start making dinner, and try to do them daily. Soon that routine will happen on autopilot.
Get Enough Sleep
One of the things I learned that first few months of school was that getting enough sleeo was a necessity for me. Not only was I staying up late and not working, I couldn’t work in the day because I was napping or too tired to focus. Even now, not getting enough Zzz’s definitely hinders my productivity at work. I know it seems counterproductive to use precious hours sleeping, but getting seven to nine hours a night will make you infinitely more able to cross things off your list.
Wake up Earlier
If you’re a morning person, (and even if you’re not) extend the day by getting up an hour earlier — when it’s still quiet and there are fewer distractions. I’ve found that fitting in a morning run makes me feel like I’ve already accomplished so much by 7am!
Step Away from Your Inbox
I know your box is probably flooded right now – everyone’s is! But incoming emails can be a nuisance. Make a habit to only check the inbox at certain times of the day to avoid getting sidetracked with requests and responses. I even turn off any notifications if I know I really, really need to focus.
Make a Daily To-Do List
Stay away from huge to-do lists. Instead, create a daily list of realistic jobs to tackle, like folding laundry, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or paying the cable bill. Break up big goals into micro-tasks, like going to a yoga class over getting back in shape, or writing a page over completing your thesis. The small things feel manageable and will keep you motivated.
Make a To-Don’t List
Bad habits are just as significant as good ones. So make a list of things not to do because they make you unproductive. (We’re staring at you, Facebook.)
Do One Thing at a Time
Our brains aren’t wired to juggle too much at once, and we can work nearly twice as fast if we do one thing at a time. So ease up and give your brain a chance to do one thing perfectly!
Silence the Phone
When it comes to getting stuff done, sometimes silence is key. Turn off the cell phone ringer — that’s what voicemail is for!
Workout at Lunch
Boss breathing down your neck? Or having writers’ block? Working out during the day could actually boost productivity, so the time spent exercising could actually help you get more done later.
Just like… don’t get sick. (It may be easier said than done.) But health and productivity go hand in hand, so be sure to maintain good health habits, like washing up after hitting the gym!
Prioritize Your To-Do List
Tackle the MITs. MIT stands for most important tasks, and it’s a way to highlight the items that matter most on that to-do list. At the start of each day, write down a few things that must get done.
Hit inbox zero
This is probably my secret to staying productive and working efficiently at work. Sort every email once that inbox is open. Respond, file or draft. Be ruthless. Keeping the inbox clean is key to staying organized and on point.
Keep a Pen and Pad on Hand
Go all Boy Scout here and always be prepared. Carry something to catch any useful thought that may come to mind.
Shut off Social Media
Sayonara, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Social media can be a huge time-suck. Studies have found that it can take up a significant chunk of time at the office, and may even predict lower grades in school. Let’s unpin that.
Do the Bad First
Do the task you’re least looking forward to first to get it out of the way. That way it won’t weigh over you all day.
Read. This. Slowly. Getting stuff done isn’t always a matter of making it to the finish line first. Take time to reflect, brainstorm, and recharge.
Track Your Time
Take a day to record how much time is spent writing emails, reading blogs, texting, etc. We may be surprised at how much time certain activities (ahem, browsing Pinterest) take up every day.
Don’t Bounce Around
Box off a specific amount of time for every task. Assign a chunk of the day for one project, and once that time is up, move on to the next mission. I’ve actually used an online stopwatch to block off chunks of time and I can’t tell you the difference it made.
Those headphones will help tune out any distractions. Plus, others may be less likely to interrupt if they see you’re plugged in.
Leave reminders around to help remember what needs to get done. Place bills that need to be paid or books to be read out in the open. Stick reminders on the fridge!
What we scarf down for lunch may do more than satisfy hunger. Certain foods, like salmon, almonds, and carrots, can give us a much-needed boost of energy. So forgo the take-out and be picky at the cafeteria!
Get rid of anything in the way that may cause distractions. Put away the dishes, fold clothes, and get rid of excess papers on the desk. When your workspace is clear, your mind is clear.
Don’t stretch yourself too thin — learning to say no keeps us focused and may even ward off sickness.
Take a Break
Carve out some quality “you” time to keep a balance between the busy world and the rest of the day. It also will give you a little mental refresher so you can get back to your work and be more efficient.
What are your productivity secrets? How do you get sh*t done?