If you’re wondering how to be more productive and get more done, but always get overwhelmed and planners just don’t work for you, this post might help.
Do you ever wish you could get more done? To go to bed every night having that feeling of relief and fulfilment, the feeling of, “Wow it’s been such a great day today! I finished so many things I wanted!”
Of course you do. We all do.
Well, there are some exceptions.
But, I think even Bruno Mars is lying, because eventually he got up and recorded this song. And then made his friends dress like monkeys to shoot the video.
Well, if you’re not having those productive days in your life and are kinda overwhelmed, I feel ya! I’ve struggled with productivity for most of my adult life and I’m still figuring out how to get more done every day.
Actually, no. Not how to get more done, but how to start and finish more things I actually want to accomplish. Things that matter to me.
I’m not a naturally organized person, but during the last 2 years I came a long way. Not very quickly, but with consistency.
I learned that time blocking, scheduling and planning even only 90 days ahead don’t work for me. I learned that at the end of a stressful, busy day I can only relax, clean my kitchen or cook something at most. Ah, that fun adventurous life.
And I learned that in order to get more done I needed to take breaks. That I’m not a machine whose ultimate goal in life is to finish a to do list. Or to stick to a “plan” that she or someone else created for her. My life doesn’t stick to a plan, even if I try really hard and force it.
But mostly I learned that I’m not a failure even though what all those books teach us isn’t working for me. Read the article to find out what has really worked for me and might work for you too. WARNING: It’s not easy, it’s not very organized and it’s not a quick fix – but it’s real.
How It ALL Started
For me it all started like this: 3 years ago I was watching TV for 4-5 hours a day (more on the weekends), worked a desk job for 8 hours a day, many days woke up at 9-10am, spent hours on Facebook and at the same time had these constant nagging thoughts: I have to change everything, I hate this job, I have to get fit, I have to be more successful, I have to…
When I would finally sit down to do something that could potentially get me unstuck and closer to where I knew I wanted to be, someone would always call me or send me a text to go out. I would get mad at that person, because they’ve interrupted me, but I also never wanted to miss out. So I would sacrifice that day and spend time with my friends while still thinking about how much I needed to do to get out of the rut that my life had become.
Little by little, that fear of starting, that procrastination cleared. The first thing I did was I stopped watching TV and fell in love with creating things. I did a month-long Facebook detox and I didn’t miss it at all, I also started waking up much earlier. I also quit my desk job and started freelancing – which wasn’t stable, but it was providing me with enough. Now all of a sudden I had time for everything I wanted to start.
More time ≠ Getting More Done
Surprisingly having all that time did not solve all my productivity problems. There was something in me that just wouldn’t let me finish what I started.
I overthought a lot, feared what people would think about me and did things half-way because they were never good enough to finish. What if people actually see this crap?
Then I remembered that we’re not here to compete with each other. That we all have place here on this planet and everyone’s fighting their own struggle. So in that moment I decided to fight mine.
And I started. ONE TINY STEP AT A TIME I started getting more done. I started moving out of that rut.
Even though my life was all over the place, the things that mattered to me long-term, I did. Not all of them. But I was making progress.
How To Get More Done And Achieve What You Want Even If You Aren’t Organized
So here are five major lessons I learned during the last two years. They’re a little different than what you’ll see in most productivity articles. You won’t see any scheduling or pomodoros – although I do love the pomodoro thing sometimes. But I hope you learn something new and that these tips help you.
Start your day with what matters to you most, long-term. It could be spending time with your family, taking care of yourself by doing some exercise or drinking a smoothie and it could be working on a project you really want to get ahead with. For me the two things that I need to do every morning are writing and exercise. Once I have those done – I already feel productive, accomplished and it’s only 9am. It’s gonna be a good day.
Keep Moving. When you have this great start to your day, you want to keep going. Squeezing the most out of every hour. In order to do that – be adaptive and accept things as they come. Sometimes there are delays, sometimes the things you expected to happen quickly take hours, or days – so don’t get discouraged and freak out about your plans. Forgive yourself for not being able to stick to your plan exactly. Be flexible and keep going and adjusting.
Have faith and be sure of the outcome. Whenever you experience setbacks, don’t make a big deal out of it – have faith that it will all work out and work out for the best. Don’t obsess over things not happening your way at the time you want them to happen. Be sure of the outcome and it’s very unlikely to get discouraged. You can stay patient and the things you want will happen. Because whatever it is that you want, you can achieve by being consistent. And you can only be consistent if you’re patient, flexible, willing to learn and courageous enough to keep going. So be sure of the outcome.
Done is better than perfect. I thought the quote was better done than perfect, but just googled it and it isn’t. My sister told me this quote when she read Sheryl Sandber’s book “Lean In” years ago and I really love it. My biggest struggle with getting big things done isn’t not starting, it’s finishing those things. I can polish and polish for hours, sometimes days and things are never good enough. But the only way I know I can get more done is to let things not be perfect. Whatever you start, the only commitment you need to make is to finish it. Do your best, but in a reasonable time, like 20 minutes. Don’t polish until you don’t want to see it anymore and have anxiety around that project.
Remind yourself of the things you did get done. So if you’re like me, you probably have a huge to do list that is impossible to finish in a day or a week. And this easily can make you feel bad about yourself and your ability to get things done. But at the end of the day, instead of looking at all the things you didn’t do and how much you still have to do, look at the things you got done that day. Appreciate them. It will give you this confidence that you can achieve the things you want and it makes you want to keep going.
Other things that have helped me get more done:
- having a goal I really want to achieve
- making a loose plan of the steps I need to take to achieve that goal
- writing a to do list
That’s it, guys.
So those are the things I learned during the past 2 years that really changed my life and the way I think about everything. If you have any tips on how to get more done, especially when you’re stuck and not naturally organized, please share them in the comments below.
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