"Dream beautiful dreams and then work to make those dreams come true." -Spencer W. Kimball
We’ve all had those work days where you look back and realize you didn’t get nearly as much done as you had hoped. I’ve put together a list of all the tips that have helped me get things done, both at my office job and when I’m working on Kensie Kate projects. I hope these easy tips help accomplish amazing things!
1. Use a Checklist (& Carry Tasks Over)
One day I spent 5 minutes creating this simple weekly checklist and now I don’t know what I would do without it. I keep it right in the middle of my desk, right above my keyboard, so I can always see it. I print one off at the end of each week and start filling it in for the week ahead. First I add the things that I know need to happen on each day. Then I carry over any tasks from the last week that I haven’t completed yet.
As I go throughout the week, I check things off as I finish them and at the end of the day, I carry over any unfinished tasks to the next day. This helps me complete some of the things I’m not super excited about because eventually I get tired of adding it to the next day so many times ;) When a new task comes up, I either add it to my list, or write it in the margin so I can schedule it later.
This printable also goes right along with my next tip, which is...
2. Create Your Schedule Ahead of Time
Using my weekly checklist, I’m able to see exactly what I need to get done every day. Knowing what I’m going to be doing each day makes it so much easier to get started and accomplish more. It helps me know just how much I need to get done, which helps me know how much time I can really spend on one thing. Not only is this system a really simple way to keep track of tasks so I don’t forget to do things, it helps me see how much is on my plate so I don’t over-schedule too many things for the same day.
3. Work in Time Blocks & Group Similar Tasks
I’m going to profess my love even more for that super simple weekly checklist because seeing everything that I need to do in a day helps me work smarter. I’ve found that it’s easier for me to work on similar tasks all at once, rather than scattering them throughout the day. I also add time limits like “I’m going to give myself 1 hour to….” Working in “time blocks” helps me stay focused on one thing and get more done, but it also helps me make sure I’m not spending too much time on one thing.
4. Get Up & Move Around
I tend to get really focused on what I’m doing and, without meaning to, I can easily end up sitting and working at my computer for hours without a break. I’ve found a couple of ways to help with that. 1) My Apple Watch gives a subtle alert if I have been sitting for too long. When I get that notification, I’ll stand up and walk around, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes. 2) I keep a water bottle at my desk. Not only does this help me drink more water, but every time it’s empty, I take a quick walk to fill it up.
5. Look for Ways to Speed Up Repetitive Tasks
If you find yourself doing the same thing on a regular basis, look for ways to speed it up. Even if it’s something that doesn’t take a lot of time, invest a little bit of time to do something that will save you time later on. Back to the weekly checklist for a second. I used to create a new one by hand every week until I finally spent literally 5 minutes making one that I could easily print off every week.
Lately I’ve been looking for those little things I have to do all the time and been looking for ways to complete them faster. I’ve been investing some time in creating templates that save me time in the long run. What repetitive tasks can you speed up?
6. Create Deadlines for Tasks that Don't Have One
If college taught me nothing else, it taught me that I am incredibly productive when there’s a tight deadline approaching. It’s much easier for me to find the motivation to accomplish tasks when there’s a due date, but not so much if there’s no deadline attached. So I give myself deadlines. I add things to days on my weekly checklist, even if they’re not “due” that day. This helps me fight the urge to keep putting things off indefinitely.
7. Stop Multitasking
Okay, as someone who prides themselves in being quite proficient at multitasking, this one tip is difficult for me, but sometimes necessary. It’s really easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re being productive. Let’s say you’re working on something, but then you get an email notification, and then someone comes to talk to you, and then you have to quickly look something up, but end up getting sucked into the endless pit that is the internet, and then it’s time for lunch, and then, and then, and then. And you still haven’t finished that first thing you were working on.
If you’re having trouble staying focused or just can’t seem to get something done, you might need to block out as many distractions as possible and focus on one task so you can just do the dang thing.
8. Clean Up
It’s really hard to be your most productive when your desk or work area is a mess. Even if you feel slammed with a never-ending to do list, take a few minutes to clean up. I promise you will feel instant relief and you won’t be so distracted when you sit down to work. Even if you don’t have time to organize everything at the moment, find a way to get it out of the way so you’re not staring at a cluttered work space.
9. Give Yourself Something to Look at
As much as I enjoy having my work space as tidy as possible, I think it’s really important to give yourself something happy and encouraging to look at. Maybe it’s a plant or pictures of your family. For me, it’s this print.
10. Find Your Ideal Noise Level
I don’t know about you, but my ideal noise level is highly inconsistent. Coming from a family of 6 kiddos, I rarely thrive in complete silence, but sometimes I find myself needing to eliminate noisy distractions while I work. I know not everyone does, but I enjoy listening to music while I work, particularly if I’m working on a mundane task. I like being able to control how loud and how “busy” the music is, depending on what I’m working on.
11. Find Your Most Productive Times of the Day
I definitely wouldn’t call myself a morning person, but I’ve found that I am most productive in the morning hours or just following a meeting. Figuring that out has helped me know how to arrange my schedule in a way that helps me get the most done. I know that it takes me a little bit of time to get back into a rhythm after lunch, so I like to plan on doing something I’m excited about to get me back into the swing of things.
12. Have a Handy Place to Write Things Down
My brain is seemingly constantly flooded with ideas. That can easily become distracting, but I’ve found that keeping a handy place to write things down not only helps me focus on what I’m working on at the time because I’m not worried about forgetting my idea, but also gives me a chance to revisit that thought later.
I use a really cheap note pad as my mouse pad. This means that I always have somewhere to write things down really quick. It helps to have a list of ideas or things to do when I find myself with an unexpected pocket of time.
13. Step Away from the Computer
This is going to sound like such a first-world problem, but it’s really hard to work at a computer all day! And if I’m not careful, that’s exactly what I end up doing. My eyes start to hurt from looking at the screen for hours. My back starts to ache and my shoulders get really tight.
Are there things that you could be doing without your computer? I have one weekly project in particular that I work on every time I need a break from my computer, or I take a quick 2-minute walk.
14. Sit Properly
Ever since I broke my neck last year, I get these huge knots on my spine. My physical therapist gave me a chart of how to sit at a desk properly and it has made a huge difference. It seems like such a silly thing to research, but a quick internet search of “how to sit at a desk properly” will yield many suggestions that can help you find your ideal setup. It’s a lot easier to get things done when you’re body doesn’t hurt ;)
15. Just start
My very last tip is to just start. Sometimes I’ll put off a task because of a lack of motivation, but when I eventually start, it’s never as bad as I think it will be. Take this blog post for example, I put off writing it for days, but once I actually started, the motivation came quickly and I was able to breeze right through it.
I hope these tips are useful in helping you get more done, because you are going to do amazing things. I know they’ve helped me! What would you add to this list? What have you found that works for you?
"In setting our own goals we need to examine our own needs and abilities. The direction in which we are moving is more important than where we are at the moment. Goal setting should cause us to stretch as we make our way." -Marvin J. Ashton
"First, think about your life and set your priorities. Find some quiet time regularly to think deeply about where you are going and what you will need to do to get there. Jesus, our exemplar, often 'withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed' (Luke 5:16). We need to do the same thing occasionally to rejuvenate ourselves spiritually as the Savior did. Write down the tasks you would like to accomplish each day. Keep foremost in mind the sacred covenants you have made with the Lord as you write down your daily schedules.
"Second, set short-term goals that you can reach. Set goals that are well balanced—not too many nor too few, and not too high nor too low. Write down your attainable goals and work on them according to their importance. Pray for divine guidance in your goal setting." -M. Russell Ballard
"There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ." -Thomas S. Monson