How not to get things done

How not to let your day run away with you

Ever find yourself at the start of the week wondering, in the immortal words of David Bowie, “where the **** did Monday go?”

How not to get things done

We all have days when things never seem to get done. I know I do, and it comes up all the time in my coaching with non-profit clients. So, here’s five tried and tested tips for not letting the day run away with you.

1. Don’t check your emails

At least not at first. I know how tempting it is, but when you do, you hand over control of your day, just like that. Other people’s priorities win out over yours because they seem more important. Instead, get some productive time in on a key project for at least 45 minutes, when you’re fresh and focused. If you really must look at them just do a quick scan and respond later.

2. Do plan

Spend 10 minutes – usually all it takes – shaping your day, the way you want it. You’ll have some immoveable things in it such as meetings with colleagues or scheduled calls but you can navigate around those. The rest of the time is all yours! Schedule the exact tasks you plan to do, when you’ll do it, and how long you think each one needs. It’ll really keep you focused and moving forward without all the faffing about between jobs.

3. Do start with what’s important

Make a start with at least some work on the thing that you know you really want to get done today. It doesn’t have to be hours and hours, but make clear progress – get over the hill. And write down the next thing that you need to do when you go back to it. I promise you, you’ll feel so great and it’ll give you momentum to power through the rest of the day. (Need more help with this one? It’s right here.)

4. Do manage your interruptions

So what do I mean by that? Some people love being interrupted, others loathe it. Most of us are in between. So when a colleague or your manager hovers at your shoulder and says “can you just…..?” the answer might be, “yes! Not right now, but how about in 15 minutes?” There’s no need to sound put upon, or massively apologetic; you can sound willing, and briefly make a time that works for you both. (But also remember the golden rule: if in the time that it takes to talk about doing it, it could be done, then – just do it!)

5. Do what you plan to do

Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often we end up spending time on stuff that we hadn’t prioritised for that day. Sometimes it’s pure self-sabotage – those 10 minutes checking Facebook, that second coffee with a friend after lunch – things we do because we’re putting off something a bit tricky. Sometimes it’s allowing others to take over the agenda – going along to a meeting that’s actually not a priority. Often it’s a combination of both. So check in with your day planner a couple of times, and rock through those tasks.

Over to you

Ever find your day running away without you? What do you do? I’d love you to share in the Comments box below.

What next?

If you or your team need support with being super-effective and getting things done, email or call me on 0208 772 7808 (or 07958 501 427) for a no-obligation chat to see how one-to-one or group coaching can help.