10 Ways to Get More Done…

Photo from Library of Congress collection

Do you ever feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done?

Sometimes you just feel flat out tired.

As a small business owner, you’ve got it worse than most.  You’re wearing a bunch of hats, a lot of times you’re covering new ground and ultimately the buck stops with you (to paraphrase President Truman).

There are a lot of strategic ways to work smarter, you can work on systemizing your business, you can get a coach to help you focus and prioritize or you can hire the right people and delegate stuff.

But your first step should probably be to work on your Personal Effectiveness and finding more effective ways to getting things done.  Here are 10 ideas / resources that might help to get you started.

1.  Get Motivated

A big key for most people in regards to working hard and being focused is finding and keeping the right level of motivation.  That might mean having a clear idea of why you’re doing what you’re doing and what the big picture vision / goal is for you.  Is it financial independence?  Buying a new house / car/ boat?  Whatever you would find motivating as a reward should be clearly tied to whatever you’re doing.

This post on the top 20 Motivation Hacks has some great ideas on things to try for those projects, goals or activities that you know are going to be challenging (or just take a lot of time).

I especially like numbers 12, 11 and 5 – and of course number 9!  😉

2.  Look into Productivity Tools

There are a lot of really cool things on the web – here’s a huge list from Mashable on all sorts of productivity applications that are out there.  It can be overwhelming, but start with something that you know you could use and give it a try.

How about an online list / to do manager like Remember The Milk?  You can access the list from anywhere you can get web access (including your phone) and get reminders sent to you in a bunch of different ways.  There’s lot of other applications – check it out and see what you think.

How about a mobile voice activated note taking service like Jott?  Have a great idea in the car?  Call Jott and leave yourself a note that will get emailed to you or to someone else.

3.  Get a Virtual Assistant

There can be a bit of a learning curve on how to use a VA effectively (and how to find the one that’s right for you and what you want them to do) but there are a lot of resources on the web that can help you out.  Here’s a good article from Entrepreneur magazine and here’s a helpful post from Zenhabits on Tips for Working With a Virtual Assistant (and Why You Might Want One).

On the same topic, I’d like to recommend Sundi Hayes at My Office Zilla (best logo ever…!).  She’s smart, professional, hard working and really easy to work with.  She may not be the perfect fit for everything you need done, but she can probably point you in the right direction if she can’t help you.

4.  Become more effective with your email

I would say almost everyone I talk to has experienced some form of email overload, and most of the time, they are waging a constant battle against it.

In a lot of ways, it’s a necessary evil, but there definitely are ways to be smarter about how you use email.

Here’s a good summary of easy changes you can make from 43 Folders:  Five Fast Email Productivity Tips.  Here’s another one from Lifehacker:  Top 10 Email Productivity Boosters.

Finally, at a minimum you should consider the tip from Timothy Ferris in the 4 Hour Work Week about only reading and responding to your email 2 times a day (or less).  The other posts above refer to this as well, but if you can make this a habit it will really free up your focus and time.  (you should also read the book – it’s well worth while).

5.  Read some good Productivity Books

I already mentioned the 4 Hour Work Week above as a place to get some good ideas (although it’s not strictly about productivity).  My other top recommendations would be Getting Things Done by David Allen and Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

You don’t have to use them word for word, but they will likely inspire you to make some changes and try something new (and hopefully better than what you’re doing now).

6.  Consider Using Send Out Cards

If you are in a business that includes any kind of relationship basis to it (relationships with customers, prospects, referral partners, etc.) then you should be sending them hand written notes from time to time – as thank you’s, as invitations to events, as a way to keep in touch or just to say hey.  Email is great, but a physical card or letter has a lot more impact.

So now that you know you should be using cards or letters to stay in touch, then you should sign up for Send Out Cards.  I can pick out a card online that matches whatever I want to say (out of thousands to choose from), type in my personalized message and have it mailed in less than 3 minutes at a cost that’s less than it would cost me to mail from home.

I’m a distributor for Send Out Cards, so if  you think you might be interested in checking it out, I can let you try the service out for free and you can see what you think – just contact me or send me an email and let me know.

7.  Use Aggregation Tools for gathering information.

This might be redundant with the productivity tools, but I think it’s worth it’s own section.  We tend to forget how incredibly fortunate we are to live in the current day and age of super abundant information.  You can find anything and everything on the web and if you’re going to succeed in the long run, you should be learning new stuff all the time.

However, all of that information makes it really hard to find and read the worthwhile stuff.  That’s why you should use RSS Feeds  and readers to keep up with blogs and websites you really like.  A lot of times, you can also sign up to Blogs and have updates sent to you via email (generally check the sidebars towards the top of the blog to find out how to sign up).

You can also check out an aggregation site like Alltop which is kind of a ‘best of’ of the web in a bunch of different topics and categories.

8.  Start using the 80/20 Rule

Everybody has heard of the 80/20 rule, but very few people actually use it in a way to be more productive.  At the highest level, the rule states that 80% of your productive effort comes from only 20% of your work.  What if you could just focus on that 20% of your work that actually is productive and reinforce that or just free up a lot of your time…

Here’s a great post with some ideas on how you might be able to apply this to your work environment:  World’s Best Productivity Hack – the 80/20 principle.  Here’s another one from Scott Young that’s a little broader but has some good ideas:  Twenty Unique ways to use the 80/20 Rule today.

9.  Recharge your Brain

Sometimes your lack of focus problem is actually physical, not mental.  Have you ever felt sluggish, tired or just plain out of it when you know you have to get some things done?  A couple of simple suggestions that seem really obvious, but most people don’t do:

  • Get up – take a walk and get your blood circulating.  It doesn’t have to be lengthy, just get moving.
  • Build in some planned breaks and then use them to do something completely different than what you were doing before.
  • Get enough sleep…(easier said than done).

Here’s a good article that has more ideas along these lines:  14 Simple Ways to Super Charge your Brain.  I don’t have any data to back up the diet recommendations they make, but their reasoning makes sense.

10.  Laugh and have some fun

Even when you are in total crunch mode, sometimes the best thing you can do is to have some fun.

Take a break and go check out something that’s funny.  I’m a big fan of Comedy Central and Despair.com, but there’s lots of other funny stuff out there.

Another way to increase productive by having fun is to make your project or task more of a game.  You can either compete with yourself or you can setup some sort of competition with others.  It should be more about making it fun than the competitive part, but it’s a great way to put a twist on stuff that you might not ordinarily enjoy.

There’s more where that came from!

So that’s my list for today, I know I just scratched the surface but it should give you some new ideas.  Let me know if you’ve got some great personal productivity ideas that I might have missed (I’m sure there’s a lot).  Maybe you know of some great books, tools or websites that I didn’t mention.  Share them here in the comments section.

Now go out there and be (more) productive!

Shawn Kinkade  www.aspirekc.com

9 thoughts on “10 Ways to Get More Done…”

  1. Bob Tarne says:

    Shawn – Great set of resources. This was the 2nd time today someone recommended Getting Things Done, I’ll have to go read it. Another great piece of advice I’ve heard is to identify your top 3 priorities at the start of each day and focus on those first.

  2. Bob – that is good advice, it ties in with another book that I would recommend called ‘Eat That Frog’ by Brian Tracy (the title comes from the idea that if you imagine that the worst thing you do all day is to eat a frog – then you should eat it first thing in the day and get it over with).


  3. Mike Gillis says:

    Hi Shawn,

    Great list on getting more done, I have just posted a related article on how to get more done in your online business and have added a link to your article.

  4. Mike,

    Thanks for the comment and including me in your list – good stuff!


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