There’s Nothing Like a Deadline to Get the Job Done!

The run up to Christmas always demonstrates how much we can get done when we have a deadline. It’s a bit like when we’re about to head off on holiday and we’re amazed about the amount of work that we can get done when we put our heads down and get to work.

There’s nothing like a deadline to get the job done!

So this makes you think about how important setting a deadline is in the first place. If we did this more often with tasks, then we could get more done in a shorter amount of time, leaving us with more free time to do the things that we want to do.

Work will always fill up our time if left to its own devices.

Parkinson’s Law¬†states that a task will fill the amount of time that you allocate for it. We’ve all experienced this phenomena, right? Where we set to work on a task to complete and it takes a full day (and we just about squeeze it in) then later on that week, we have a bigger task and less time (say a morning) yet we still get this task done. How did that happen…?

Errr, it’s in the deadline.

Whatever time you allocate (assuming that you allocate any time at all…?) then the task will invariably fill it. On the flip side, if you had set up say a couple of hours to get a task done, you would more than likely get it done entirely or at least get the majority of it done within that two hour time frame – as opposed to perhaps a full day or even longer if you let it have an open end.

Maybe that should be our New Year’s resolution –¬† to set deadlines (hard meaningful deadlines) for every task and to get it scheduled in our calendar with a set amount of time to complete it. We can then have more time to enjoy the finer things in life (but just don’t set a time-limit on those things ;)).

Sunday Thoughts: What Tasks Could You Take Away This Week?

As I sit here and plan my week ahead, the list of tasks that I need to complete seems to get longer and longer. Week on week.

We all seem to have ever-expanding “to-do lists”!

So at times like these I think to myself: maybe I need to ask myself a better question… And I came up with this question:

What tasks could I take away this week?

Hmmmm, thinking about what I do in a typical week, I need to consider what tasks I could either: eliminate, automate or outsource/delegate?

Writing down a list of repeated tasks on a piece of paper, I add these three columns with these three titles. And start to allocate tasks between the columns where possible. Already I can see possibilities to free up time.

I recommend you try this for the week ahead. See what tasks you might be able to stop doing altogether or automate (using apps like Zapier and IFTTT) or outsource/delegate.

We can’t keep adding more. We need to explore ways to take tasks away.

10 tips for getting more stuff done

  1. Plan your day but build in contingency time for last minute emergencies (they always happen!).
  2. Open email first thing in the morning and deal with emails that can be sorted within a few minutes. Then close it, ideally until lunchtime when you can revisit. Reopen at close of play. 3 focused email processing stints. Good luck (still struggling with this myself).
  3. Close that internet browser!
  4. Get some quiet / alone time. Shut your door if you have an office or find a quiet space if you’re open plan (or go to your local coffee shop).
  5. Use autotext shortcuts where possible e.g. in a Blackberry go to ‘Options’ then ‘Autotext’ and insert commonly used email terms (e.g. ‘R’ for ‘Regards’). Saves you a ton of time when you’re on the move.
  6. Ask yourself “Am I the right person to be doing this? or “Is this the best use of my time?”. If not delegate or outsource it.
  7. Treat ‘To-do lists’ with care. Make sure you put your most important task at the top and don’t allow yourself to jump to the easier stuff until you’ve completed it. The danger of to-do lists is that we become obsessed with the thrill of crossing actions out and so end up focusing on the low value easy stuff (often without realising it).
  8. Turn off the ‘New Mail received’ chime and notifier on your email.
  9. Have stand-up meetings only. This makes everyone focus on the important stuff, keeps meetings shorter and minimises the risk of chit-chat.
  10. Get out for some fresh air or exercise. Even if its only for 30 mins. A refreshed mind is usually more focused and productive.

Any further productivity tips to add?