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I attempted to knock out this post last night while watching a Disney Channel movie on Netflix thinking This is totally background noise and I won’t be actually watching. HA. You guys, Cadet Kelly + popcorn + wine is a *great* Monday night and I did NOT get more done. I digress. 😉
Hello my name is Erica and I’ve got it all wrong. Or so they say – ha! I’ve heard it said a hundred times about the importance of doing the biggest thing on your to-do list first.,Typically, folks say that a guaranteed path of productivity lies in doing that biggest + hardest thing first. Getting it out of the way ensures you’ve a.) got it done, and b.) have the entire rest of the day to work on any other smaller, more menial tasks. It makes everything on your list seem insubstantional in comparison, so you can crank out that biggie and then be donezo, so the energy needed to complete the other lesser jobs isn’t bad at all.
But I’ve got it all backwards.
I’m no scientist, but I think it’s more about what works for work and your own mind. For me, the thing that most stresses me out is a too-long list of to-do’s. The more things on it, the more frazzled I feel, and the less productive I am holistically as I end up losing focus, bouncing between tasks.
I start with the small stuff.
I group together all of the easy quickies to do first + foremost. Anything that won’t take too much time.
It’s ALSO scientifically proven that work will expand to fit the amount of time alloted to it. Ever notice how you’re waaaaay more productive on busy days when you’re coming + going and probably get MORE done than if you were just sitting at a desk with 8 hours to kill and only a few must-do tasks?
The most important thing, I think, is to KNOW THYSELF.
- I know I get overwhelmed by long lists.
- I know I want/need to knock stuff out ASAP.
- I know that I might lose focus and start multi-tasking, thereby being *less* productive, if I start one big thing but have a buncha little things on the list still.
- I know that I definitely let tasks expand to fit time. Somehow the same task that might take two hours on a totally open afternoon will be done in 30 minutes if I’ve got a meeting or somewhere to be.
Enter, my backwards way to get more done.
I start with the SMALLEST tasks. Anything that takes under one minute to complete should be done immediately. Next up, anything that’s less than 20 minutes. THEN once there’s a whole lotta stuff crossed out on my list can I begin tackling the big kahuna of the day. It ends up feeling like a warm-up, and by the time the bigger, more daunting task is here, I’ve already accomplished so much – there’s no stopping me then!
My mind feels clearer, my focus feels sharper, + my overall productivity is higher.
Sometimes, if the bigger task is also a more technically complicated or challenging to-do, it can be a totally discouraging way to start the day. And on top of that, I start to feel increasingly anxious as the day goes on if I feel “stuck” on that thing, since I’ve still got the laundry list of smaller things left to do after. Knocking off the easier, smaller tasks is a great way to warm up into the day, get a confidence boost for being oh-so-productive, + still get things done that needed to get done.
My process to get more done:
- Schedule/plan everything the night before. You should go into the day already knowing what to expect, more or less!
- Clean the night before. You should *also* have a neat, organized space so that you’re as clearheaded as possible right from the getgo. Lord knows this isn’t always my strongest suit, but it def makes a difference!
- Set your own priority list BEFORE ever checking your email. OK really, I’m the worst at this. I’m completely guilty of checking my inbox before I’ve even gotten outta bed sometimes. But the key here is to set your *priorities* first. I think it was Ashton Kutcher who I first saw say this, but our inboxes are other people’s priorities for us. It’s other people wanting something from us, telling us what to do to help them, etc. And resorting straight to them is a hella easy way to let the entire day slip away getting other people’s priorities taken care of – no bueno! So long as you go into your inbox with clarity of what YOU need to get done for your OWN peace of mind, you’ll be more able + willing to say no + step away and refocus when need be.
- Book your hours. Like we said – work expands to fit the time allotted it. Never let your calendar be empty if you plan to be productive! Even if you’re scheduling in that hour for kickboxing or 20 minutes to vaccuum the house, make sure it’s visible on its own timeblock. The busier you feel, the more productive you’ll likely be. The second you start to feel too relaxed, you’re most at risk to slip up altogether and lose any semblance of productivity for the day.
- Get a buncha small but significant things knocked out. The key: small but significant. These should be the things on your list that def *have* to get done, but just either a.) won’t take much time, and/or b.) are easy peasy. They should help clear your mind so that you feel amped, on a roll, + ready to transition right into your day’s biggest assignment with ease.
- Tackle the biggest kahuna. After you’ve already got a few small doozies done with, you’ll feel ready, motivated, + inspired to keep on keepin’ on. *fist bump*
How do you get more done?
Do you do things backwards like me, or are you more of an “eat the frog” kinda girl? (That phrase is from a book by Brian Tracy that explains the whole do-the-hardest-thing-first technique!)
Would lovelovelove to know what works for you – let me know in a comment down below!
Hope this was helpful – thanks for reading, per usual. 🙂
P.S. Have ya seen yesterday’s Monday Mantra yet??? It’s a goodie. 😉