5 Ways to Get More Done

by Katelyn Block on January 23, 2013 · 25 comments

As a blogger and self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, one thing I have learned is the value of time. Bandwidth. There is only so much that you can have in one day. Over time, I’ve slowly found the tactics of better time management. Here’s how I take advantage of the limited hours in a day.

1. Use a calendar.

If you’re not already using one, you’re cheating yourself, and are probably losing valuable time. Schedule out when you are going to check e-mail, eat, have meetings, make phone calls, and block out the projects you have allotted for the day. Schedule every task like a priority and you will treat every task as a priority. If you share your calendar with others, make sure they see when you’re busy. In big, bold, red letters. Respect your time, and others will as well.

Google Calendar is my main hub when it comes to all things scheduling. You can set alerts to your desktop, e-mail, phone, and even add recurring events and combine multiple calendars. This is perfect because, personally, I have ten calendars. Dead serious. TEN.

2. Write to-do lists.

Always. Update, cross things off, give yourself that tangible sense of accomplishment. I love using Wunderlist for categorizing my tasks and giving them priority and due-dates. When you have your goals written out in front of you, you avoid Clusterbrain Syndrome: The feeling of knowing there are a thousand things you should be doing, but you can’t seem to organize them in a productive way. Writing to-do lists will keep your tasks in order, and categorizing them will keep your brain in order. Productivity will come naturally when you are able to cross of your goals, one by one.

3. Make your goals attainable.

Typically, there are a thousand things I want to get done in a day (or week), but to be realistic, you have to do some ruthless prioritizing. I learned this tip from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:

If there are five things you want to get done in a day, pick the three things you can truly accomplish in the time frame and do only those.

Don’t even bother to give attention to the other two. Limiting your focus to two or three tasks per day (or week!) will keep you focused and avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. Quality over quantity: It is much better to do two or three things well than do five things in a hurry.

4. Establish a reward system.

Did you complete all of your tasks for the day? Meet a goal that you set for yourself? Awesome. Now REWARD yourself. You heard me. I’m going all Pavlov’s-Dog positive-reinforcement on you. Do good things and you will be rewarded. By good karma, the success that comes with getting it done, and whatever you deem appropriate to make your experience even more awesome. For example. I, being the loud-and-proud nerd that I am, reward myself with reading. And cookies. Pick whatever suits you the most, and if you meet all of your goals, by golly take the time to do what you didn’t think you would have time to (this also includes trash TV and hot baths. like I said. whatever makes you tick).

5. Find what makes you best at what you do.

Do you work best from home the first half of the day? Do you have more productive meetings in the afternoon? Does exercising after work suit you better than before? Do you prefer noise-canceling headphones playing classical music to the hum of the office? Packing lunch makes you feel like a little kid again, in a good way? Find out what makes you hum, and don’t be afraid to ask to make it happen.

Shareable: Inc’s index of Personal Productivity articles.

I’d like to know…
  • How do you stay productive?
  • What apps do you use to get on track?
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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline January 23, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Great post, Katelyn! One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned the past couple of years is what makes me tick. It’s also super important to set realistic goals, whenever my to-do list for the day gets impossibly long I get overwhelmed and end up accomplishing none of it.

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Katelyn Block January 24, 2013 at 8:53 PM

YES, exactly! When you get overwhelmed, it’s easy to shut down with lack of direction. To-do lists and realistic goals are the way to go. xo lady :)

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Melissa Love January 23, 2013 at 9:41 AM

I LOVE this! Especially the pic 3 things part — I need to make my “To Do” more into a “Get It Done” :)

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 2:49 PM

EXACTLY. Making the to-do’s a to-do NOW. And putting them in a realistic order. I pick those three things and those ALWAYS get done – and then another 2 or 3 are a “nice to get done”

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Courtney @ Journey of a Dreamer January 23, 2013 at 9:53 AM

This is SOOOOO good. for realz. I used to be awesome at time management. then I had a kid. 3 years later I’m still relearning… and just when I get it down she changes something again. dang kids and their growth and development.

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Haha. Girl you are STILL good at it BECAUSE you have a child! That makes you superwoman. Forreal. I don’t know how mothers do it.

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Brooke @ Running In Heels January 23, 2013 at 10:24 AM

These are all great ideas.. we definitely all need a little help staying on track sometimes!

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Brad January 23, 2013 at 11:18 AM

I needed to hear the words “ruthless prioritizing” today.

Thank you for that.

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 3:08 PM

You’re very welcome!

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Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction January 23, 2013 at 12:44 PM

I always have to do lists, if it is written down thenI will mostly likely get it done faster!

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Exactly, lady! PS Are you going to any conferences this year? Would love to see you again!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 23, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Fantastic tips! I used to be so much better about To Do lists – that habit needs to begin again.

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 3:10 PM

In it together, sister. WE CAN DO IT.

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Kaitlin January 23, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Hey Katelyn,

Nice post! I do love my gCal. I’ve noticed you changed your RSS settings so people who get your posts have to click ‘continue reading’ in order to see the whole post. Is there any way you can change that? I get that you want pageviews and people to come to your blog, but frankly I can’t go to your blog each time you have a post (and I’m reading it at work… oops ;) ) and sometimes I just don’t want to take the extra step. I’d hate to miss out on your content because of this. I’m sure other people have this problem too.

thanks for all you do!

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Hi Kaitlin! Thank you so much for voicing your concern. I love that you let me know it was bothering you. Unfortunately, it IS more beneficial for me to keep it as is for my blog, but I’ll keep your suggestion in mind. And PLEASE don’t hesitate ever to shoot me an email. xoxo

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Sarah @ Fit Betty January 23, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Great post Katelyn! I love To Do lists and I am learning to love schedules, too. It makes a big difference!

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 3:17 PM

It so does! Thanks for stopping by, lady :)

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Lindsay January 23, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Great tips! I’m just starting to use Google Calendars for work and I’m loving it.

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Isn’t it great?! I literally have 10 different calendars. Absurd organization.

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Liana@RunToMunch January 23, 2013 at 4:19 PM

I use my outlook to schedule everything! From runs, to meetings, to time to read personal emails, to work tasks. It helps me keep focused on the task at hand vs. having my mind wander to other agenda on the long list.

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Exactly! Otherwise things slip through the cracks.

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Pamela January 23, 2013 at 4:39 PM

I don’t think I would get anything done without a to do list. I am however a bit old fashioned and still use my Franklin Planner. It’s true, you need to stick with what works for you!

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 3:21 PM

I LOVE those! I use the electronic and a paper calendar – it’s always good for me to have a tangible schedule, but also one that I can access anywhere.

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Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 27, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Great post, Katelyn! I have spent my weekend reflecting on my life, my productivity and what I want from my future (things have been DEEP over here), but I realized how much more productive I am when I’m BUSY. I use each moment because I know it’s important, this includes the moments I give myself to relax. When I’m not as busy, I just put things off because there’s “always tomorrow” to get it done…then it still doesn’t get done.

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Katelyn Block January 31, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Exactly. Getirrdone NOW.

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