The Best Technique for Getting Things Done

Do you feel like there’s never enough time in your day? Like you’re juggling too many plates and wearing too many hats to get it all done?

Here’s the answer to getting it all done: Do less. 

I’ve read a lot on time management and productivity. And when it comes to getting things done, there are two main approaches. There’s the “how to be more efficient so you can jam 5000 things into your day without coming up for air” approach. And then there’s the, “evaluate what’s important, essential and beneficial to your life, and cull the rest” approach.

No prizes for guessing which camp I’m in.

Not everything that you’re trying to pack into your day is important or essential. You need to identify what is, and edit the rest.

So how do you wade through all the crap to assess what’s most important?

You need to view your schedule the same way you view your stuff; only keep what is useful or beautiful.

The Best Technique for Getting Things Done

1. Write a list of all your roles and commitments during the average week. Here are a few possible categories and examples to get you started:

  • Professional/Career
  • Relationships (wife/husband, friend, daughter etc)
  • Home responsibilities (housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, tidying, groceries etc)
  • Parenting (looking after preschooler, taking kids to school, sport, doctors, helping with homework)
  • Recreation (running, reading, craft, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TV, internet shopping, blog reading, internet browsing, You Tube, eating out – add whatever you tend to do in your downtime)
  • Other: include any committees or boards you’re on, sports teams you coach etc

2. What roles on that list are important or life giving in your day?

Underline those things.

3. Which are the top 5?

Keep those, and cull the rest.

Sound far too drastic? We all have the same 24 hours to work with. So fighting against time is fruitless; you will never, ever have more time than you do now. But by having the right amount of commitments for the time you have, you’ll feel like you have more time and space to breathe and to be.

Here’s my current list of roles and priorities:

  • Professional: Life Edit
  • Parenting: prioritising time with my 3 kids
  • Relationships: making time for coffee/dinner/wine dates with my husband, friends and family
  • Health & recreation: running, meditating, reading, crafting, travelling
  • Housekeeping: cooking, cleaning, organising, groceries, etc

You might split your categories up more than I have, or group more together. Some seasons (like the early years of parenting) have enough subcategories of their own to take up all your time, I know! Up to you how you break it down. There are no rights or wrongs; it’s an exercise in reflecting on what things are most important to you, and whether your current schedule reflects this.

And having determined your priorities, when anything new comes along, you can check if it fits into one of the categories that you have predetermined as being the most important to you. If it doesn’t fit, don’t do it.

A decluttered schedule is a beautiful (and useful) thing.

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