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How to Get Things Done: A Step-by-Step Guide

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How to Get Things Done: A Step-by-Step Guide

There are always those days when 24 hours a day seem too little for you to finish all that you wanted to accomplish. The biggest question for a person with a lot of responsibilities on their shoulder is how to get things done before they are overdue.

Not being able to check off everything you had planned for the day can worsen your productivity due to the feeling of failure.

At the end of the day, there are only so many hours in a day. The only thing you can control is how you manage this time for maximum efficiency and minimal stress.

This 7 step guide along with some bonus tips will tell you exactly how to get things done without going through a mental breakdown once every day!

Step 1: An Effective To-Do List

Getting things done is impossible if you don’t know all the things that need to be done. What this means is that you need to have an organized plan of what the tasks are, when they’re due, what’s their order of priority, etc.

The best, easiest, and most effective method of organizing your work tasks is to make to-do lists. Yes, not one, but multiple to-do lists.

Generally, workplaces assign you tasks for the whole month or sometimes more. You know the goals that need to be accomplished over this period. So, what you should do is make a monthly to-do list with all these deadlines and tasks.

Next, break down the work per week. Which parts of which tasks will you tackle through the 4 weeks? Then, make it more detailed as you come down to your daily to-do list. In these lists, add the aspect of time as well.

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For example, if on the Thursday of the first week you have planned a meeting with the boss, mention how long you think it can take. This way you won’t over-schedule or under-schedule certain days.

One pro tip for making to-do lists is to add enough detail to have clarity of what you need to do. However, do not over-complicate them by adding too much information. A hefty to-do list can be intimidating and demotivating.[1]

Step 2: Get in the Mood to Work

You know how there are times when you’re so ready to work – during these times, you can literally get done with the hardest tasks without budging an eye. How does that happen?

Well, it’s all about your mind. If it’s ready to work, you’ll get the boost you need automatically. So, why not put in a small amount of time to prep your mind so that the rest of your workday goes on smoothly? Whatever has been bothering you or keeping you preoccupied, get rid of it.

Let’s say you’re super excited about your birthday that’s coming up in the next week. Do not let it distract you during work. For that, you can start the day with 5 to 10 minutes of meditation. It will also help you practice mindfulness for better focus.

You can also exercise, walk, or run to freshen up your body. Eat a filling breakfast so that you don’t lose your energy until lunchtime.

Another thing you can do to prepare your mind that it’s time to work  is to dress for it. Take a shower, wear comfortable but fresh clothes, spritz some perfume, do your hair, and put on some shoes. Your brain will automatically shift gears and encourage you to work, and this will help you to get things done.

Step 3: Set up Your Space

Your surroundings can work your productivity immensely. Have a well-set workspace. Well-set doesn’t mean it needs to be fancy, but you must have all essentials within reach.

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Things like your laptop, its charger, a snack, water, your to-do list, a pen, notebook, and other necessities should be within reach. Also, add the things that make you feel more comfortable, such as a candle, a table lamp, etc.

On the other hand, distractions should be cleared out. Keep your mobile phone silent or log out of your social media accounts.

Step 4: Get Done With the Hardest Tasks First

There’s this metaphor ‘eating the frog’ and a lot of experts have written books and articles about it. It is a concept to boost productivity which suggests getting done with the most challenging tasks first.[2]

You should implement the same strategy. Prioritize the tasks that need more work over the easier ones. Getting the hardest task out of your way early on in the day will give you a sense of relief.

Once the ‘big’ thing of the day is done, it is way easier to focus your energy on the easier and lesser important jobs. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment, which is the right energy booster you need to get things done.

Also, your energy and motivation are usually the highest at the beginning of the day. So that is the perfect time to push yourself.

Step 5: Delegate What You Can

If you’re familiar with the idea of delegation, you should put it to use. There’s a high chance that you can distribute your workload without compromising the output.

However, if you opt for delegation, make sure to delegate the right tasks only. Only then will you be able to manage more work in a shorter time. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend more time correcting others’ mistakes.

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Step 6: Get Done With the Short and Quick Tasks

This step is the second part of prioritizing your tasks. Once the most challenging job is out of the way, quickly move onto things that you can get done within the shortest time.

This strategy allows you to tick off more in lesser time.

So, for example, let’s say you have 10 tasks for the day and 5 of them are quick and easy things that you can get done within an hour or two. Once you’re done with these tasks, you’ll be left with half of the workload with plenty of time to get it done.

The brain will see it as a win and give you the motivation to push yourself to get done with the rest too.

Step 7: Turn Off Work When You’re Done for the Day

One major part of being able to do things is to keep yourself from getting exhausted. Do not over-burden yourself.

When you’re done for the day, switch off your work side. Even if you were able to manage the tasks of the day earlier than the finishing office time, give yourself that free time.

Relax whenever you can. Treat yourself when you deserve it. Turning off is very important to be able to restart the next day.

Bonus Tips

This was the step-by-step process of doing things. However, amid this process, there are a few other things to keep in mind too. These bonus tips will keep your work morale high throughout.

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Firstly, take care of yourself. There are quite a few things to consider here. You should be fresh, healthy, well-fed, well-slept, and your basics should be covered so that you can focus on your work with your full potential. Unless you’re healthy, you cannot produce useful outputs.[3]

Take enough breaks. Working non-stop is the biggest paradox because a person thinks they’ll get more done by forcing themselves to work every second through the office hours. But it actually drains your mind and body. Once again, you are unable to generate good work. So, give your mind and body a few minutes to refresh after every couple of hours.

Next, have room for flexibility in your to-do lists. An urgent task can always pop-up. Deadlines can be pushed forward for whatever reason. It is expected for things like this to happen. So, if you don’t have the option to reschedule your to-do list, your entire routine will mess up.

Lastly, don’t over-stress. Focus on the task at hand only. Things that are to follow should be thought about when you’re working on them. The task at hand is where your complete attention and time should be going. Being all over the place will only waste your time.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, let’s not forget that we’re all humans. No two humans are the same despite the similar psychic we all have. This step-by-step guide is a general example of how a smooth workday can be planned. However, a few tweaks here and there may help you improve this process even more for yourself.

Feel free to experiment with whatever you think will work best for you. With the general idea behind this step-by-step guide in mind, you can easily find a way to get things done as per your needs. As long as you keep the idea behind each step intact, you can go about it any way you prefer.

So, don’t waste any more time procrastinating or stressing out. Get all your tasks finished promptly by implementing this work strategy for maximum efficiency!

More Tips on Getting Things Done

Featured photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on November 25, 2021

20 Essential Apps And Websites For Digital Nomads

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20 Essential Apps And Websites For Digital Nomads

Living a life of perpetual travel is pretty exciting – new destinations, new cultures and new incredible people to meet and hang out with! However, working on the road can get pretty hectic at times. As a digital nomad I have found myself in rather awkward situations a lot – from missed deadlines due to incorrect time zone conversion to a nearly missed plane when I forgot to print out my booking and confused the time (I did catch that plane though!).

Being your own boss is equally awesome and hellish. Juggling numerous tasks at once and getting things done super-fast with a terrible wi-fi connection requirea killer organizational skills and zen-like concentration. Try using the next 20 websites and apps to make your life as a digital nomad easier, less stressful and even more exciting!

1. Trello

Trello is your go-to website to stay organized and work super-efficiently on the road. It’s a free service that allows you to create numerous boards for your ongoing projects and plans. Tired of having numerous notes scattered around different apps and lengthy email threads with your clients or team? Just drag and drop them all to Trello, where you can easily collaborate, quickly exchange ideas and notes in the form of cards, leave comments and track the overall progress of the project. You can create numerous boards and organize them the way you like, upload files to each, set deadlines and notifications, plus easily share everything with one click.

My Trello contains two sets of boards – personal and business. I use the first to keep all my travel plans neat and make sure I won’t confuse the flight time or overstay my visa; the second to keep a visual account of my personal goals and various arrangements. The business board is where I have a list of ongoing projects composed into simple to-dos with their current statuses –  along with all the comments from my clients and a separate column for follow-ups.

Trello is an incredible free alternative to similar project management softwares I used before and it can be used for tackling any job – from house renovation to multi-stage marketing campaign! Also available as an app for iOS and Android devices to get updates on the go.

2. f.lux

As a digital nomad you often find yourself working late at night or early morning to keep up with your clients’ time zones. Love checking your email or reading a few articles from your iPad before going to bed? (I do!). Even if you don’t feel it yet, your eyes are seriously suffering from those habits and you can end up having troubles with sleeping as the blue light from your devices negatively impacts your sleeping patterns. Use f.lux – a handy software that will automatically adjust the color of your computer’s display to the time of day – warm at night and like sunlight during the day. F.lux allowed me to be more productive in the mornings and made it easier to slow down my activity in the evenings. As a digital nomad it is essential to stay refreshed as your income depends solely on your productivity. Besides, haven’t we escaped the cubicle to have a better work/life balance and more rest in the first place?

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3. Focus@Will

As we often find ourselves working at various places around the globe – from a crowded bus station to a jam-packed bar (the only place that has decent wi-fi in the area) – concentrating on your work gets extremely difficult. That’s where Focus@Will comes to rescue. The service offers a wide selection of white noise and simple tunes selected according to a neuroscience-based approach. It seems to work pretty great as I stayed way more concentrated on my work compared to the times when I just blasted my favorite tunes and murmured along. A 30-day free trial has a limited selection of tracks and will stop playing them in an hour (although it could be restarted immediately). The paid service will cost you around $10 for three months. Also available as a free app for iOS and Android devices.

4. Shopify

Let’s admit it, being a digital nomad and working solo gets challenging at times. There are days when you feel like a Renaissance man trying to tackle all things at once and getting expertise in numerous areas. That’s especially true when you are just about to launch your business website, blog or an online store. If you are a creative, you have only basic knowledge (if any) in CSS, HTML or integrated payment systems, so you spend endless hours figuring out how things work instead of doing what you are really good at and earning money.

Try Shopify – a service providing custom no-hassle ecommerce solutions. They offer everything from secure hosting and mobile-optimized websites to secure check-outs with some 70 payment getaways to choose from and assistance with running your online marketing campaign. The rates are incredibly affordable and start from just $29 per month for unlimited access to all their services and features or opt for a 14 day free trial to test them out first!

5. Rescue Time

Proper time management is another great struggle all digital workers face. How many times you have found yourself spending over 12 hours a day in front of your screen and not having all things done? Yeah, it happens to me quite in a while, so I’ve started using Rescue Time – to stay on top of my productivity while still having a normal work/life balance. Install it on your computer and all devices to have an accurate picture of how much time you spend doing certain activities or browsing certain sites (khm..cat videos on YouTube). At the end of each week you’ll receive an email with a fair statement on your (un)productivity.

Rescue Time enables you to give more accurate deadlines to your clients; create accurate hourly invoices as you know exactly how much time you’ve spent doing a certain task and adjusting your rates accordingly and eliminate random activity during your working hours. You can use Light Rescue Time version for free or opt for the premium plan at $6 per month.

6. Every Time Zone

As you probably work with people based anywhere from New Zealand to the West Coast keeping an eye on the deadline or updating them on your progress at 9 am each day may get tricky. Just as sending follow-ups, project proposals and invoices at the right time of the day. Every Time Zone is another great solution for keeping proper track of the time – your client’s time. Add all time zones you need, add your time in the marker at the top and see where this lands in everyone else’s day. No more crazy maths with figuring out when do you need to ring up Joe on Skype if he asked to do that at 11 am EST.

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7. XE Currency

How many currencies do you have in your wallet? My guess is more than two. As a digital nomad and perpetual traveler you have to keep track on the conversion rates and different currencies all the time. To make sure you are charging an equally fair price in USD/EU/GBP or any other currency out there use XE Currency. Get live conversion rates instantly or add up a list of your preferred and sync ahead of time to have instant offline access from any device. XE Currency is available as a web service, iOS, Android, Windows Phone apps and more.

8. Trail Wallet

My second essential money app for digital nomads is Trail Wallet (currently iOS only). It’s a beautifully crafted and easy-to-use app for tracking your expenses across multiple countries and currencies. You can organize your spendings by country or my month, set max daily budgets and add each dollar you’ve spent on the go. At the end of the month the app will tell you if you gone over your budget or where exactly did the cash flow. It’s perfect for analyzing the cost of living and working at different cities and countries, thus finding the optimal home-base for you when you get tired of being on the road and need to settle down for a while.

9. Xero

And to keep better track of your business-related expenses try Xero. Arguably, the best online bookkeeping and accounting service out there for all the non-accountants. It’s perfect for sending invoices, keeping track of the cash-flow and setting payment notifications on credit cards and recruiting payments. It neatly categorizes all your bank transactions and reconciles them with the transactions you have made in Xero to keep things even more simple. Available for numerous iOS and Android devices, so you can always have access to your data at no time.

10. Tripit

Tripit is one of the best travel planners out there! It’s free, fast and most importantly – works off-line. Just say no more to papers and lost emails. Forward all your booking confirmations – hotels, flights, car rental etc and let the app do all the magic for you by turning it into an easy-to-follow itinerary. You can set up notifications and get access to your data from any device without internet connection. Tripit reduced my frustration of arriving to the wrong terminal or roaming around the new city with my baggage as I haven’t written down the hotel address correctly. It’s a great app I seriously recommend using it to basically anyone who travels.

11. 1Password

Sharing sensitive data, especially passwords with your clients or team and keeping track of them can get challenging. That’s why I’ve started using 1Password – a super secure password-sharing service that allows you to create special vaults with a set of passwords to tools and services only accessible to the people you’ve shared it with. Available for numerous devices, the service gives you peace of mind when sharing anything sensitive via unprotected networks. Speaking of which…

12. Private Internet Access

Keep all your data and computer protected by opting for Private Internet Access. Often we need to make those last minute payments or credit card purchases and the only internet available is a suspicious unprotected network your device somehow found. By using an anonymous encrypted VPN and a private IP you can be 100% sure none of your payment data will be fished or passwords stolen.

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13. Workfrom

Find the best coffee shops and cafes in your area with this service. Workfrom has a great pool of venues in major US cities – New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle – and more destinations worldwide to be added soon! The service is free to join and you’ll get access to numerous cool spots with unbiased opinions of wi-fi connection and cappuccino quality from digital nomads just like you. Reviews also include price range, meals available, general atmosphere and noise range, along with some pro-tips on where to find sockets and which table is the most secluded. I have discovered some of my all time favorites this way like Mr Bean in Amsterdam.

14. Spotted by Locals

Another awesome service to discover good meals and thrilling events at your current base. Spotted by Locals is not that typical city guide with boring touristy routes, but an amazing resources with awesome recommendations from the locals on things to do and places to check out. After all, you’ve chosen a location independent lifestyle to explore the world more, not just spend hours tapping on the keywords in a different environment.

Currently, the website has numerous recommendations for all major European cities – Paris, Madrid, Vienna, Warsaw and many more, plus it gradually expands into North America with Boston, LA, Toronto and Montreal guides recently added. You can browse around the free categorized selection of activities at the website or pay$ 2.99 for a PDF guide with all tips and places neatly listed on the map. Or opt for iOS or Android app ($3.99 each) to gain offline access to one of the city guides along with a detailed map.

15. Jawbone UP

Now when you know where to go and what to see, here’s a handy app that will help you get unstuck from your laptop. Jawbone UP will gently nag you when it’s time to get up and unwind a bit. Install the app and connect it to all your hardware, than let the Up Activity Tracker (a lovely bracelet) analyze your sleeping and activity patterns to help you creating a better lifestyle. The app will monitor and analyze all your actions and suggest you a healthier schedule, help you sleep better and keep up with the exercise routine (which gets erratic when you are on the move). Why do we need more time if we don’t spend it wise, right? The app is free for iOS and Android, however you’ll have to pay 129$ for the bracelet tracker or 49.99$ for the clip.

16. SugarSync

Some like DropBox, others opt for Google Drive, yet my go-to cloud storage service is SugarSync. It’s simpler, more powerful and has a really slick design. After you install it, you just need to right-click the file/folder to instantly back them up at the cloud. Besides, any further change you make to that data will be automatically synchronized. Large files get uploaded extra fast and you can get 250 GB storage space for just $99.99 per year. Also you can access, share and edit all your files via free iOS or Android app supported on numerous devices. Now, I’ve finally stopped worrying what should I do if my laptop gets broken/stolen.

17. Contactually

If you don’t like to get broke and return home, you have to invest a fair share of your time in building ongoing relationships with your clients, vendors or customers depending on what do you do for a living. To avoid this whole thing becoming a huge pain try using Contactually – a simple, yet powerful service that will tell you when and whom you should keep in touch with and how you could maximize your ROI by connecting with the right people at the right time. It will send you notifications when you’ve fallen out of touch with certain contacts (which can mean missed opportunities in the perspective) and prompt when you should reconnect with the most important contacts from your network by providing helpful context clues like social updates and recent conversations to make the whole thing look more genuine. The service boasts that their users get up to 40% more referrals after using their service (backed by case studies) which is kind of essential for you if you’d like to live the nomadic life and work for yourself!

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18. Schedule Once

If you are working on multiple projects with multiple clients at a time – Schedule Once is your kick-ass service to schedule online meetings and conferences. Create a sleek pre-set calendar when you are available and send people a unique link that allows them to select a suitable time for both of you to connect. The service is fantastic for anyone offering consulting services or coaching sessions and costs just 5$ per month!

19. Spaxtel

Sometimes the internet gets so crappy that calling by Skype is impossible. Or you have a very-very important conversation scheduled and you don’t want any possible glitches to interrupt you. That’s when it’s worth using Spaxtel – a cool service that enables you to make land-line quality phone calls via callback. You don’t need to install any software or have internet access. The rates depends on the quality of call you choose (the lowest discount is pretty great) and the countries from/to you are calling. So far, the price proved to be nearly Skype-affordable for a better overall quality of connection.

20. Earth Class Mail

Snail mail isn’t that popular these days, but you still get some important stuff via it. Say bills and some paychecks. If you don’t want to bug your parents or friends’ to deal with your mail while you are out, try using Earth Mail Class – an affordable mail forwarding service that scans and forwards your mail to the e-mail address of your choice, deposits your checks (for a fee), saves PDFs of your postal mail online and offers in-person pickup and package signing.

Featured photo credit: Avi Richards via unsplash.com

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