14 Tips for Just Getting Things Done Quickly


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Thursday, February 1, 2024

In the busy world of work and business, sometimes the ultimate priority is to just get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Here are some methods that could help you do just that.

Article 11 Minutes
14 Tips for Just Getting Things Done Quickly

Anyone with a busy, demanding job will know the feeling that, sometimes, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Avoiding poor time management is essential in these situations, yet it can be challenging when you're tired, feeling a bit ill, or just in the wrong mental space. Without it, you can end up spending the entire day staring at a computer screen, unable to get anything started; let alone finished. This lack of productivity can be detrimental.

How to work faster and efficiently

What you need to combat this is not just the will to work but also effective time management strategies to help you get some work done quickly, although that's easier said than done. Whether it's managing payroll, completing customer orders, or filing tax returns, there are many regular business processes that are governed by strict time constraints. On those occasions, when you simply have to get things done as quickly as possible, try using some of these methods to boost your efficiency and manage your time better.

1. Plan in advance

If you start your day without a clear plan, you run the risk of spending your first couple of hours thinking about what you need to do, estimating how long it will take and setting yourself targets for the end of the day.

Planning in advance is one of the best ways to get maximum value from your time. It helps you to arrive at work ready to get started straight away.

Use a diary, a piece of paper or even a project management software tool to record this and keep it close by while you're working.

One of the key considerations when making your plans is to be realistic. Don't set time constraints or goals you know you won't achieve.

2. Structure your time

A key part of the planning process is creating a structure for how you will spend your time over the course of a given day or week.

One of the simplest ways to build this structure is by breaking up the overall period into distinct chunks, which can be allocated to particular and perhaps difficult tasks. You might want to dedicate the first half of your day to making phone calls, responding to emails and having meetings, for example, and the second half to other work that requires quiet concentration.

Structuring your time effectively will help you prioritize your workload effectively and save you from spending too much time attempting to organize it in the first place.

As David Allen, author of Getting Things Done and creator of the GTD methodology says:

“If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”


3. Theme your days

If you have a fairly varied job, you might find it's a good idea to theme your days so you're focusing on one specific area of your role at a time. This will keep your mind in the same place all day, making you more efficient at your job as time goes on.

This technique is something that Twitter chairman Jack Dorsey uses to make sure he's able to be as efficient as possible. Not only does giving each day a theme provide him with direction, so he always knows what to do when he starts work in the morning, but it also means he knows exactly what to return to if he ever gets distracted.

4. Group together similar and overlapping tasks

Grouping daily and relevant tasks together is a simple strategy that can help you be more productive and efficient with your time. A basic plan to get you started is to identify similar and relevant tasks - for example responding to multiple emails, or reviewing regular reports or data, so that you're not jumping back and forth between unrelated activities. This will free you up to focus on writing reports, attending meetings or other relevant tasks during another dedicated block of time. This approach helps you stay focused and avoids the constant interruptions that can derail your productivity.

5. Use the ‘11am technique’

The 11am technique is a simple method that, according to business mentor and coach Siimon Reynolds, can deliver big results.

It involves starting the day with the mindset that you can work only until 11am, which helps to sharpen your focus on the most worthwhile, important jobs that need to be finished as quickly as possible.

Reynolds advises creating a small to-do list of key priorities and getting started on them immediately.

“The 11am technique works brilliantly because it forces you to take action quickly on what really counts.”

6. Focus on one job at a time

Many people list multitasking as a key skill on their CV, and there’s no questioning the value you can gain from doing a number of different jobs at once.

However, this is actually not the best way to do your job. In fact, research has shown that focusing on multiple tasks makes you less able to work efficiently.

One study found that multitasking reduced productivity by 40%, while another suggested that it also drops your intelligence by 17%. Both of these are bad signs for your ability to get your work done. You'll be better served if you focus on a single project at a time, and aim to avoid distractions and interruptions.

When you have a number of key tasks on your task list, it's worth asking what's more important: doing several jobs to an average standard or doing one job to a high standard. If it's the latter, the best course of action is to focus on one objective at a time and make sure you do your best work.

Concentrating solely on one single task can help you get the most out of your time, as it makes it easier to lock into the right mindset and rhythm to get the job done with speed and efficiency.

7. Save your to-do list for bigger tasks

Matt Girvan, president and co-founder of My Gung Ho, said in an interview with Mic that his to-do list is saved for only the largest pieces of work he has on.

“Have a task that takes less than five minutes? Do not add it to your to-do list. Do it now.” - Matt Girvan, president and co-founder My Gung Ho

Adding smaller tasks to your to-do list and ticking them off might feel good, but it’s not actually productive. It encourages you to leave smaller tasks to later, which means you won’t be completing them while your mind is still on them. Plus it means you’ll be spending a good chunk of your day managing your tasks rather than making progress on them.

8. Finish non-essential tasks within 10 minutes

Another highly effective strategy to maximize your productivity is by striving to complete unimportant and repetitive tasks within a 10-minute window. Tackling these small yet annoying tasks quickly will not only helps declutter your daily task list, but also creates a sense of accomplishment that fuels motivation for future actions and tasks.

The key to success lies in identifying and prioritizing these repetitive tasks early in the day. By setting a time limit of 10 minutes, you can focus on completing each task efficiently without being distracted or overwhelmed.

Finishing these manageable pieces of work promptly allows you to allocate more time and energy to high-priority and complex tasks, ultimately improving overall productivity. Moreover, eliminating these annoying tasks from your task list creates a more organized and manageable workload, and provides a psychological boost as it reduces stress and anxiety we can all associate with a cluttered to-do list.

 9. Use a pomodoro timer for effective time management

The pomodoro technique is a simple yet powerful method that can yield effective results. Here's how it works:

  • Set a pomodoro timer: Work for a solid 25 minutes on a single task without distractions or switching between projects
  • Take short breaks: After the 25 minutes, take a five-minute break to refresh and prepare for the next focused work session
  • Repeat: Continue this throughout the day, taking a longer break of 20-30 minutes after every fourth pomodoro session

Why it works:

The pomodoro technique enhances time management by breaking down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This creates a work rhythm that maintains focus and momentum. Regular breaks ensure sustained energy levels, preventing burnout and fostering productivity. This structured approach leads to significant progress on tasks without leaving you feeling drained.

10. Fight procrastination

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. It's a particularly dangerous pitfall for employees in the 21st century, considering how many potential distractions there are in the modern workplace.

If you find yourself procrastinating and losing valuable time over the course of the day, identify the unwelcome interruptions that are causing the biggest problems. For many people, technology will be the biggest culprit.

Whether it's social media, messages from friends or the latest mobile apps, take a zero-tolerance approach to diversions that have nothing to do with your work. If you can turn your phone off, do it, and don't add any social bookmarks or personal messaging apps to your work computer.

11. Avoid useless and unnecessary meetings

Another way to optimize your time at work is by reassessing the need to schedule meetings. While collaboration and communication are vital in any organization, excessive meetings often lead to wasted time and decreased productivity. By eliminating or reducing the frequency of non-essential meetings, you allow yourself and your team members to dedicate more time to critical tasks and projects.

Instead of attending meetings that do not directly contribute to your goals, you can allocate that time to assign tasks, strategize, and execute your work more efficiently. This enables you to maintain a steady workflow, minimize distractions and ultimately achieve better results in a shorter amount of time.

You can also utilize task management tools and platforms to streamline communication and ensure that everyone is on the same page without the need for constant in-person meetings.

12. Embrace technology and automation

In the era of digital efficiency, technology has become a game-changer for productivity. Automation tools are invaluable; they save the average employee up to 240 hours annually by automating repetitive tasks such as data entry, scheduling, and email responses. This translates to a significant amount of time that can be redirected towards more strategic activities.

Productivity apps are equally crucial in managing workloads effectively. Trello provides a visual platform for tracking tasks, making it easier to see progress at a glance. Asana is designed to help teams streamline work assignments, with features that facilitate collaboration and project tracking. Evernote excels in organizing notes and information, ensuring that your thoughts and tasks are neatly catalogued for easy retrieval. By incorporating these advanced tools into your workflow, you can concentrate on high-priority projects and enhance your efficiency in measurable ways.

13. Leverage feedback

Receiving feedback is a potent tool for both personal and professional development. Actively soliciting and thoughtfully reflecting on feedback from peers and superiors can reveal valuable insights into your job performance and pinpoint areas needing enhancement. Constructive criticism isn't just about spotlighting weaknesses; it also paves the way for skill refinement and process betterment. By welcoming feedback, you can refine your approach to tasks, bolster collaborative efforts, and ultimately raise the caliber of your output.

It's important to remember that feedback is a reciprocal process; expressing gratitude and acting on the insights gleaned are equally vital. This ongoing cycle of feedback and implementation fosters an environment of continuous learning and adaptable advancement, which can significantly enhance overall performance and job satisfaction.

14. Personal wellbeing and productivity

Prioritizing personal wellbeing is essential for keeping productivity high. Simple mindfulness practices like meditation or deep-breathing can lessen stress, leading to clearer thoughts and better focus. Even short mental health breaks throughout the day can also help keep you performing at your best.

It's also important to establish healthy daily habits. Eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are key to maintaining high energy and focus. For instance, studies have shown that people who sleep 7-9 hours a night are better at solving problems and remembering information compared to those with insufficient sleep. Taking care of your body and mind builds a strong base that benefits not just your work but your whole life. Start using these habits to keep your productivity and wellbeing balanced.

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