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7 Ways To Get A Whole Lot of Things Done In A Day

7 Ways To Get A Whole Lot of Things Done In A Day

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with things to do that you wished you could simply stop the clock and make time stand still while you got everything done?

It would be wonderful if we could all do that, wouldn’t it? Sadly, those of us not living in some fantastic science-fiction show aren’t blessed with the ability to halt the hands of time, leaving us looking for more practical ways to get things done in any given day.

Though by no means an exhaustive list, here are seven things that may work for you to improve your daily productivity:

1. Wake up earlier

It may sound obvious, but if we’re really going to start getting more things done in a day, then where better to start than right at the beginning of that day.

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Getting out of bed earlier gives us more time to do more stuff, and hopefully still have time left over for the things that matter, like family and friends.

2. Stay healthy

Dragging ourselves out of bed a little earlier doesn’t mean we have to spend the rest of our day fighting off fatigue. By eating healthily, enjoying exercise and generally taking care of ourselves, we’ll find ourselves with more energy to tackle the things we need to do.

Instead of dropping off into a post-lunch slump in which productivity is at an all-time low, or being too exhausted after a day at the office to spend time on our passion projects, we’ll be alert and awake and ready to get things done.

3. Organize and prioritize

Getting things done isn’t about doing a bunch of stuff for the sake of keeping busy, it’s about doing what matters to help us achieve our goals.

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In order to have a successful day, it pays to prioritize. Take care of the biggest, most crucial things first, and then work your way up.

Think of it like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: when we’ve dealt with the most mission-critical things, we’re better equipped to move on to the next set of tasks, and upwards we go, building on our own productivity and finding it even easier to get things done.

4. Stay out of the past (and don’t go too far into the future)

How many times do we find ourselves dwelling on the past and reliving memories, both fond and painful? Physically, we’re in one place at one time, yet mentally and emotionally we’re somewhere else entirely. If we’re not lost in once-upon-a-times, chances are we’re projecting ourselves into the future, either worrying about things that haven’t happened yet or daydreaming about what might be.

Though it certainly pays to take the occasional look ahead in order to know where we’re going, when it comes to getting things done, we benefit much more from being present in the moment and focusing on the now.

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By being alert and focused on the task at hand, we’re more capable of doing what needs to be done.

5. Delegate

One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to getting things done is falling for the belief that they have to get it all done by themselves.

Yet being able to ask for help often means that you can not only get more done, but get it done better than if you tried to do it all by yourself.

6. Eliminate distractions

Whether it’s by listening to music to block out background noise, or using website blockers like Google’s Stayfocussed app to keep you away from Facebook or other time-sucking sites, one of the best ways to get things done is to keep everything else out so that we can focus on the task at hand.

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For this writer, turning the computer off altogether and heading back to the pen and paper works best, but for you it might simply be a case of switching your cell phone off for a few hours or finding a quiet place to work.

7. Take a break

For much the same reasons that keeping yourself healthy is the key to getting more things done, being able to take time out once in a while can make all the difference to your productivity.

Whether we step back to take a moment of stillness and quiet, or head outside to enjoy a walk in the fresh air, it’s important to relax from time to time if we want to avoid burnout.

By avoiding burnout, we give ourselves more energy and, again, more energy leads to increased productivity.

More by this author

Chris Skoyles

Coach, and trainee counsellor specializing in mental health and addiction.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

1. Know Thyself

One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

An unexamined life is not worth living.

I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

2. Figure out What Matters to You

What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

3. Play to Your Strengths

Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

4. Listen to Yourself

It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

“If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

6. Make Time for Reflection

It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

  • What went well today
  • Something you’re grateful for
  • What would make tomorrow even better

Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Arguably the most important step of all:

Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

“I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

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