Sunday, July 20, 2008

How I Accomplish What I Need to Do in a Day

I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend who is unemployed. She talked about the frustration of having the day pass without feeling like she accomplished anything. I shared with her my secret for getting a lot done on days when I work from home but don't have a lot of items that are "due." I am one of those people who work much better with a deadline, so there are a few things I do to help myself be more productive when there are no deadlines.

The first thing I do is create a to-do list of things that I can accomplish that day. I try to make it long, but also only include things that I could actually do on that day. It might include "write an introduction" for a long document I'm writing, but it would not include "write the long document." I think it's important to only put down things that can be accomplished on that day. If it's a large task that needs to be done, I will break it down into subtasks that I can complete.

The other thing I love to do is to check off items on my to-do list. This helps to keep me motivated. And I also come up with a goal of how many items I'm going to cross off my to-do list. I usually aim to complete about 50%-75% of the list. I like having the flexibility of putting off a few things until tomorrow so I never aim to complete the whole list.

Sometimes when working with items with a nebulous deadline, I simply assign a deadline to it myself. This helps me tremendously, while I know others will also need accountability from others. If you need the accountability, I would recommend telling your spouse, best friend, or even parent.

I hope these tips help those of you out there and please let me know what you do to stay on track on a day without deadlines.


budgets are sexy said...

I write everything i'd like to do that day on my hand so there's no way i could forget! Then, just like on paper, i cross it off and get that "good feeling" still.

Sometimes if i'm in a fiesty mood, i'll doodle around them too...Oh, and usually people ask you what exactly is on your hand - which is another reminder! (just don't put anything naughty down)