11 Secrets to Getting More Done

Photo by SK Design / Shutterstock.com

I am not one of those full-of-energy, get-a-million-things-done-in-a-day types. So when I told my family and friends I planned to quit my full-time job to start freelancing, I wasn’t met with a rush of support.

In fact, I heard things like: “You know, being self-employed is really hard work,” and “Do you think you’re organized enough for something like that?”

Then, there was my personal favorite: “Well, at least you’ll get to take those afternoon naps you love.”

That was almost a decade ago. Today, I’m still freelancing, and I get a lot more done in a day than I used to. It took some trial and error, but I found a few ways to power through and still have time to do the stuff I enjoy.

Here are 11 tips I have learned for getting stuff done:

1. Keep multilevel to-do lists

I’m a huge believer in to-do lists. However, a long, cluttered one of everything you want to accomplish will only make you feel bogged down.

To keep things organized, group your to-do lists into categories. For example, I have a work to-do list divided into:

  • Projects that need completion
  • Business meetings and emails
  • Accounting tasks

I also have a separate personal to-do list organized by chores, errands and appointments.

2. Prioritize

If your to-do list is three pages long, you’re probably creating too many tasks.

I struggle with this myself. I’ll write down everything from an important meeting to laundry. Then, when I can’t get to all of it, I feel frustrated.

To combat this, I write down everything I think I should do in a week, and then I go back and cross out what really doesn’t matter. Do I need to write down laundry? Probably not. I’ll just do it when I run out of clean underwear anyway.

After that process, my list is focused and I get a little mental boost from already having tasks checked off.

3. Use a timer

Most people are guilty of distracting themselves and procrastinating. It’s easy to lose yourself digging into The Atlantic’s archives or trying for the 300th time to beat a level in Candy Crush Saga.

To cut down on distractions, I use an online timer. For 60 minutes, I can’t do anything but work on the task at hand. After the timer goes off, I give myself leeway and try the game’s level for the 301st time.

4. Own your email

You are going to feel overwhelmed if your email box is bursting at the seams, you can’t remember what needs an answer, or you can’t find something important.

Instead, resolve to empty your inbox every day before you head home. Set a time to check your email, and act on it as soon as you open it. Answer it and delete it, or put it on your to-do list for later and file it away.

5. Delegate

Doing tasks yourself can save money. However, always remember that time — not money — is the most valuable resource you have.

Rather than spending all weekend learning how to repair a leak in your air conditioner unit or mowing your lawn, delegate such tasks to someone else. Save your time for stuff you enjoy.

6. Eat your frogs

This saying has often been attributed to Mark Twain:

If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.

Most of us avoid the things we don’t want to do and keep putting them off, which causes more stress.

Instead, learn to tackle your least favorite task first thing in the morning. Once it’s out of the way, the dread won’t slow you down anymore and you’ll get more accomplished.

7. Make a playlist

Music can work wonders for your productivity. I’ve found that if I listen to music that makes me happy at work, I’m better at my job. If I listen to music that makes me feel calm, I have an easier time doing chores at home.

Find your tunes, make a playlist, and let the music help you get through the day.

8. Purge your ‘time-sucks’

Take a hard look at your obligations and ask yourself, “Am I doing this because I want to or because I feel like I should?” If you’re doing something because you feel obligated or haven’t gotten around to quitting, give it up.

9. Sleep

Make sure you get a good night’s rest. Don’t sacrifice sleep just to get more done. After a while, you’ll burn out and actually get less done.

10. Track your time

One of the best things I’ve done for myself is tracking my time. For a week, I wrote down everything I did and how long I spent doing it.

After the week was up, I looked at the results and could clearly see that I was spending too much time on a variety of tasks.

11. Unplug

You will work better and get more done if you give yourself time to unplug and unwind. At least once a day, shut off your email, stop checking social networks, and do something you love.

Whenever you have vacation time, take it, even if you just stay home. Giving yourself time to recharge will pay off.

Do you have tips for being more productive? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
30 Purchases That Will Start Saving You Money Immediately
30 Purchases That Will Start Saving You Money Immediately

Sometimes, you’ve got to spend to save. These canny deals are a good bet for savings.

This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say

One major wireless provider stands out for the least reliable call, messaging and data services.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

These monthly costs eat at your disposable income. Here’s what you’d save if you cut them entirely or even trim them just 10%.

5 States Where Drivers Pay the Most for Car Insurance
5 States Where Drivers Pay the Most for Car Insurance

Auto insurance will cost you more than three times as much in one state compared with another. Here’s how to lower your rates no matter where you live.

5 Common Medical Expenses That Medicare Won’t Pay For
5 Common Medical Expenses That Medicare Won’t Pay For

Don’t let these health care costs catch you off guard in retirement.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

The dollar store has great bargains on these purchases.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.