If you set a limit, you will be forced to choose just the important things. If you don't set a limit, you'll try to do everything ... which means you'll be busy, but you'll be doing a lot of unimportant things as well. Just choose three, but choose carefully.
Plan your three tasks the night before, so you're prepped for the day when you wake up. Then there's no "urgent" stuff on the list, because you chose them when you were calm. It helps give you a jump-start on your day.
First thing you do when you start working: start on the first of your three important tasks. Don't do little things. Just start.
Here's where procrastination can really help you. Trick yourself by putting a big task you've been dreading at the top of your list. So you actually have four tasks. You will try to procrastinate on that big task by working on the three tasks below it. In that way, you'll still get three very important tasks done while procrastinating on the fourth. How will you get that fourth one done? When something bigger comes along that you dread even more, put that at the top of your list.
When you finish one of your three tasks, give yourself a short break. 10 minutes works well for me, but you may need 15 or 20. That's OK. We're not in a sweatshop here. You're only doing three things today. Take a walk. Get a glass of water. Shoot the breeze with someone. Check whatever you like to check online. Then get back to work on the next task.
After you do your three important tasks, take a nap. You've earned it. You've done three important things today, which is more than most people, to be honest. They might do 7 smaller things, but you've been more productive by doing less.
You probably won't actually complete them all anyway. Just choose three and put the rest off until tomorrow. I promise, the world won't end and life will go on. And you'll be much less stressed.
On and off, I've been following a similar system... and perhaps even simpler.I set myself between 1 and 3 achievable goals for the day. My criteria: which are most important to my boss. Either will make him look good to his boss, or will keep in out of trouble, whatever.My phone is always on call forward, and I pick up my messages twice a day.My e-mail is turned off. I also check it twice a day.If it's a big project (like the one I have to do today), I break it into achievable tasks.And you're right about the urgent: everyone thinks their request is urgent. I ignore about half of them and they go away....From 80 hour weeks, I'm down to about 30, and I'm getting glowing feedback on how much I get done. I'm not getting more done. But what I am getting done matters more.
Hi - I think this would work well for freelancing, but definitely not for businesses. My urgent stuff is often the things that really matter, like doing the accounts, so I can send in the VAT return. If I didn't do things like that, the other things wouldn't matter at all, because they'd shut me down.But, I do agree on the to do lists. I always feel far better if I do mine the night before. There's nothing worse than doing it first thing in the morning.
I think these things could work great if it applies only to personal tasks, but not necessarily to business. I work for myself, and consider myself lucky to be as busy as I am most days. But being successful means having several projects or clients to work on/with everyday, and my business deadlines are all *urgent* according to my clients If I were to choose the 3 tasks according to what I consider most important, I would lose clients who either feel that they're not getting the attention they deserve or their projects might not get done on time.
Sounds like you let your clients dictate what you do with your time. I also work for myself and I found myself at the same point you sound like your at. Things didn't get better until I learned to properly set the expectations of my clients with my time and projects. Getting things done right away isn't as productive as you think. Tell your clients it will take 1 week if its a single day project. This way you have 6 more days to load up more schedule work / new clients. As long as you're diligent with your due date the extended time won't be an issue.
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