How to get more of the right stuff done. Our 7 step recipe.

Written by  //  January 30, 2013  //  Daily Juice  //  No comments

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I have four children and a business. It’s busy. Very busy. I’ve got a to-do list that’s big and child-free time that’s (relatively) small.


So you’d think that as soon as my little darlings were safely tucked away at school/daycare I’d be straight on to my tasks, beavering away, getting stuff done.

But honestly, until recently I didn’t.

I’d start my day with easy jobs like, um, catching up on Facebook, finding stuff on Pinterest, tidying my desk, checking my email, reading another chapter of a fabulous biz book, checking out some new articles sending a few texts….

Aagh. Stuff that I could pretend was work but really, it didn’t get me anywhere.

I’m very industrious when I’m working with clients or to a deadline, but when it’s just me, the desk, a load of writing to do and an empty house I get very distracted.

Apparently I’m not alone. Most of us find that the stuff we want to do is quite the opposite of what we need to do.

So for the last six months I’ve been experimenting with different tactics to keep me working on the right stuff. I’ve got a good little routine now and I thought you might be interested in the steps I take to get the right stuff done.

1. Make a weekly list of the right projects

I make a weekly list of the stuff I need to get done that will make a difference to my business. So it’s a list of projects – some are things I do every week (writing) some are things I’m developing (videos). But altogether it’s stuff I’ll feel proud to have done by the week’s end.

2. Chunk the projects down

I chunk the projects down into stuff that I can do in 30 mins, 60 mins or 90 mins. I don’t do lengths of time more than 90 mins because if I’m really focusing for a whole 90 mins I need a break after that.

I also don’t chunk stuff down into less than 30 mins because if it’s a really short task I pop it on my to-do list and squeeze it in around something else (like making a phone call in car-line or a 5 minute desk tidy when the kids are around).

3. Plan the night before.

Every night I work out how much time I’ve got the next day for working on the right stuff. Each day is different because my working on the right stuff time has to fit between clients and kids and their schedules are very variable.

Then I take my weekly chunked down list and decide what I’m going to do. Now this doesn’t sound like rocket science but making the decision and sticking to it is the glue that holds my process together! What I found was that in the morning, while I was deciding what to work on, I’d faff around tidying, reading, messaging….and then fall into a rabbit warren of other distractions. Armed with my first 30 mins of ‘right stuff’ work, I’ve broken the faffing cycle. Hallelujah!

4. Have a little ‘get-started’ routine

I wish I could remember who told me this one, they deserve a hug (or at least a mention) for this fabulous tip. It’s this. I have a little ‘get started’ routine. Again it’s such a simple thing to do it hardly seems worth mentioning it. Except for the fact that it really helps me move my head space from scatty and kid-oriented to work and focus.

My routine is pretty simple – I make a cup of tea, switch the computer on and pop to the loo! What’s not in the routine is a peek at Facebook or a tidy of the desk. I now know what my distractions are and like a smoker giving up cigarettes, I just can’t go near them.

5. Set the timer

To keep myself focused I set the timer on my phone for 30 mins and I promise myself not to leave my desk (or tidy it!) until the timer sounds. I always start my day with a 30 min task as 30 mins of focus feels quite doable. What I find in practice is that when the alarm sounds I’ve gotten so into my work that I don’t need a faffing- around break. Bingo!

6. Keep going

Then I just keep going in the same pattern. So I make a cup of tea, pop to the loo, re-sest the timer (to 30,60 and 90 mins depending how I’m feeling) and off I go. What I find is that I get an energy boost (honestly, it feels like a shot of adrenalin) from that first 30 mins of focus and it carries me through the rest of my work day. Seriously!

7. Day One

I have an app on my phone called Day One. It does lots of things but what I use it for here is it’s journal feature. Every day I log in Day One the ‘right stuff’ projects I have completed. This gives me a great sense of satisfaction ( ‘Look, I did it! I did it!’)and gees me up ready to start planning the next day (see Step 3).

If you want to keep a record of the work you’ve done, you don’t need to use the app, a notebook will do just fine.

And that’s it! It’s a series of little steps that have changed the way I work. I’m now so entrenched in the routine that it’s now as much of a habit as my faffing around was! How do you make sure you work on the right stuff?



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