I hear it time-after-time, from clients, family, and friends: everyone seems to be struggling with getting stuff done. I don’t need to tell you, it is a distracting world we live in, especially now. You know what it is like. You sit down at your desk in the morning and start looking at email. You end up following a news link with the latest COVID statistics, it takes you to Facebook or some other dark hole, and BOOM! Where did the morning go? And then, just as you are about to really settle in, a child or two comes by your “office” with a question. And you end up thinking, “What was it I was going to do next?” It’s so easy to get off-track.

If you are serious about organizing your time better so that distractions are kept to a minimum and you get the most out of your day, read on. Below are 3 suggestions for how to get stuff done so that by the end of the day, you feel like it was a day well spent.

1. Prioritize

Review your goals to set your priorities. Ask yourself: What do you need to accomplish this week to achieve your goals? Categorize these into what is most important, what falls in the middle, what is less important. If you want to feel good by the end of the week, determine what you will need to have completed or gotten started on. Now make your list from most, to least important.

2. Calendarize

If you work in an office, or like me, you once did, you know that when you get that notification of a meeting you have to attend, you stop whatever you are in the middle of doing to go to the meeting. ‘BING!’ – it was kind of annoying, however, it keeps you on schedule. Consider using this same tactic to tackle the projects you want to work on.

Use these steps:
  • Make sure all non-negotiables for the week are scheduled in your calendar first. These might include personal appointments, time with, or for your kids, and any other activities you want or need to schedule around. For me, it is my morning workouts, including online classes. (Self care = non-negotiable!)

  • Make sure all of your scheduled meetings and calls – your committed time – are entered, so that what you are left with is your ‘free time’.

  • Now, go to your priority list and start block out time on your calendar to get these items done – from top (highest priority) to bottom (lowest.) If there isn’t enough time to get to the bottom of the list, that’s okay. That is why you prioritized it.

But, wait, there’s more. Before you fill out your calendar, check out #3, below…

3. Consider your energy

I am a morning person. I get up and, once I’ve brushed my teeth and showered, I am pretty much raring to go. This lasts until about 3:00pm, when I feel my energy start to wane. Then, it usually picks up again around 4:30.

What does your energy pattern look like throughout the day? Are you a morning person or a night owl? Think about this when you add critical activities to your calendar. Those that require the most brain power, concentration or effort probably should be scheduled for a time of day that you feel most energized. For lower energy day-parts, you might choose activities requiring less brainpower, such reviewing and responding to email or making calls.

And one last thing. Keep yourself motivated throughout the day by rewarding yourself. When you finish something, get up and take a walk, refuel with a snack or grab a coffee– whatever it is that feels good, gives you a break and resets your brain for the next activity. Following these simple tips should help you get in the practice of focusing on the most important work at the times that prove most productive for you. As for the kid interruptions? Well, I’m still working on that one.

Originally published here.