How to Get Stuff Done

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I know. You’ve probably heard all the productivity and time management tips. You’ve tried a bunch of different types of planners and techniques for organizing yourself. It’s not that you don’t know the methods to get stuff done —

— it’s that they just don’t work for you.

You think differently

Maybe it’s because you’re an entrepreneur. Which makes you a bit different. There’s just so much to think about, so many things to do, so many ideas to have, so many directions to go in — that sometimes you just end up staring off into space instead of doing any of them.

I’m there, too. I don’t like being productive on demand. It’s so much more creative to go where the spirit moves me. But, when I was running my marketing firm and many people were depending on me, I had to be productive. I had to get my stuff done so other people could get their stuff done. I had to find some methods of regularly and consistently corralling myself into focus so I could make a regular and consistent profit — a necessary thing in order to pay my bills and salaries at the end of the month.

Time scheduling is one of the most useful and productive things I do

I stumbled on scheduling my time when I was a single mom, and being all willy nilly just wasn’t an option. I couldn’t afford to take my work home with me at night, literally or figuratively, so out of frustration I started dumping everything that was on my plate into my calendar in blocks, just so I could go home at the end of the day with a clear head.

Here’s what I did: at the end of every day, I’d schedule the entire next day. So for instance, on Tuesday, I’d schedule my entire Wednesday. Not just my appointments, but everything I had to do, for every minute of the day. If I needed time to go through my mail, I blocked it out on the calendar. If I knew I would need two hours to write copy for a client, I’d block it out on the calendar. If I knew I had to make a few client calls, I’d block out time for that on my calendar. If I knew I needed to plan on Wednesday for a meeting on Thursday, I’d block out enough time for it on my calendar. It was the only way I could leave my office Tuesday evening without having random thoughts or worries about whether I would be able to handle my workload — I knew I could, because I had blocked it out.

No more, “Did I make a note for myself about Thursday’s meeting?” as I was putting my son to bed.

And then when I got to my desk on Wednesday morning, I followed my schedule. I did this every day, and it didn’t take long to become a habit that has stayed with me for years. I don’t think I could work without it.

No more, “I’m staring at the wall again. Now what important thing am I supposed to be working on?” Come on, you know you do this.

Sometimes I mess up

Oh sure, I go off the schedule a lot. Sometimes I have to move things around. But it’s amazing how often I stick pretty closely to it (I’ve gotten better at estimating how much time things will take) and it’s even more amazing at how much I can get done. Here’s a little tip for you:

“What gets scheduled gets done.”

So that’s how I get stuff done. It’s not very scientific. You don’t need a special planner or colored pens to do it. You can use any kind of calendar. You don’t need to read a book about it or take a class on it.

And I bet if you try it, you’ll get more stuff done.

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