Sometimes it can be hard getting things done. It’s easy to lack motivation, get distracted and procrastinate. We can find that all the time in the day get’s wasted and when we go to bed we still haven’t done what we wanted to do. So what can we do about it?
Below are some things that might help, but really it’s all about getting started and then following the task through.
1. Have a checklist
Be it on a scrap of paper or on a post-it note, writing out the things that need to be done for the day can help with organizing your time and motivating you to cross the things off on the list.
2. Organize your work space
A messy desk can really put you off doing work. In fact, it can be used as an excuse for you not to do work because there’s not enough space on the desk to put your stuff or you can’t find the things you need to get started. Don’t allow yourself to use these excuses, keep your desk neat, clean and organised.
3. Use a timer
Do you know the feeling when you’re in an exam and the clock ticks away? That pressure can be semi-replicated by using a timer, and it can help force you to get to work. It can also help organize your day so you can set aside one hour to write an essay, and then allow yourself 30 minutes of TV time and you won’t get carried away because the timer will beep.
4. Make some time
Sometimes it seems like there just isn’t enough time to do all the things that you want to do. In this case, make some time. Wake up one hour earlier than you usually do, and see how much more you can do with that extra time. Make this into a regular habit, it will require a lot of determination and perseverance, but do it enough times and you’ll get used to it.
5. Keep a diary
A diary/planner helps to give you an overview of what’s coming up over the year so that you can organize your time more easily. You can fill them with reminders, notes to yourself, and if need be, write an inspirational quote to yourself in the middle of each week in advance, so when you get to that day in your diary it’ll put a smile on your face and help keep you going.
6. Have a calendar
A calendar has a similar purpose to the diary except that your reminders are shorter, often just a few words.
7. Break things down into smaller tasks
This one is a key point in getting things done. A task from aerial view can seem too overwhelming to overcome, and it can hold you back because you don’t want to face the sheer weight of it on your shoulders. But each long journey begins with taking that first step, it only needs to be a small baby step, followed by another, and then another until you reach the end. It’s the same principle when trying to write a novel, at the face of it, it seems to be a huge task and I guess it is. But that task can be broken down. When I first tried NanoWrimo where you needed to reach at least 50 000 words by the end of the month of November, it was nerve-wracking because 50 000 words is quite a lot of words! But splitting the task down to what I needed to do each day, it narrowed things down to 1667 words per day, now that was more manageable. So I kept through with that steady pace of between 1500 – 2000 words a day, and eventually I reached my goal.
8. Set yourself a project
There’s an element of fun when undergoing a project and it’s a way of breaking large tasks down into smaller ones. For example, when writing a novel, you can split different aspects of it up into different projects like making character profiles, writing a blurb, outlining the history of the fantasy world you have created. And after each and every project is completed, you feel a sense of satisfaction that helps drive you onward.
9.Give yourself a reward
At times, it’s possible to be hard on yourself for not being able to do what you need to/want to. But maybe punishing yourself or berating yourself isn’t the answer. Instead, offer yourself an incentive, something to keep you going, e.g. when kids have to be good to get a present from Santa.
10. Make a timetable
Having a structured day can be effective, but only if you stick to it and enforce your own self-discipline.
11. Have an overview/plan
It’s nice to be able to know what you are aiming for in the end. Don’t lose track of what you are working for. Keep reminding yourself of the final goal, and keep monitoring your own progress. The picture below took me 8 hours to finish, I knew what I wanted to do, I knew what I needed to do and it paid off in the end.
13. Use your stress and channel it to push you further
Do you get stressed when things keep on piling up and it seems like you have a whole mountain of things to do? Well maybe stress is a good thing, it’s obviously there for a reason, and it can be used in a good way if you allow it. You can use your stress to get you going and push you forward. Okay, constant stress is not good for your health, but a little bit can be just enough to help you. It gets your heart pumping faster, your breathing rate increases bringing more oxygen to the brain, use this to get yourself into action.
14. Avoid distractions
Assess your work area and remove anything that can be a potential distraction. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted, so goodbye phone, goodbye TV, goodbye social networking sites. Now, goodbye doesn’t have to last forever, but whilst you work, make sure those devices aren’t around you. And if it’s the people who are distracting you, just explain to them that you need to do work or try hanging a Do Not Disturb sign outside your door — though I haven’t tried that yet.
15. Raise the stakes
In a novel, the writers constantly try to raise the stakes for their characters to keep the momentum of the story going. In the same way, this can be applied to life. For everything that you need to do, remind yourself of the stakes — what would happen it you didn’t do it. If that isn’t enough to get you to work, raise those stakes for yourself and practice self-discipline.
And finally, my last piece of advice:
16. Stop reading this post, and go get the job done.