Getting things done matters, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes, there’s simply so much to do that it feels completely impossible to accomplish everything. When that happens, you often end up jumping from task to task, trying to do a little bit if each thing until they’re all completed.
While there could potentially be scenarios where that would be a good idea, there aren’t too many of them. Instead, it’s much better to choose one thing at a time and get it done. Then you can move on to the next thing without having to backtrack to something you’ve already completed part of before.
Here’s how to get it all done, one thing at a time.
1. Start Out With a To Do List
If you aren’t sure what you need to get done, you’ll bounce around because you’ll keep thinking of new things to do. You might be doing laundry, and realize the bed isn’t made. When you make the bed, you see that the trashcan is full so you stop to take the trash out, etc.
That can lead to doing all sorts of little things that weren’t the things you intended to do at all. With a list, you can get the important things done. If you have time afterward you can always do more things, and if you find something else that needs done, you can add it to your list for later, tomorrow, or some other time. But the list itself is very important.
2. Set Priorities to Complete Your Tasks
What really matters to you, and when do those things have to be done? When you set priorities, you’re saying that one task is more important than another. There’s no “right” way to prioritize, because different things matter to different people.
Keep that in mind, and choose the tasks that are time-sensitive first. These are the things that really do need to get completed, and some of the other things can wait. The goal is to get everything on your list done, but if you can’t, you want to make sure the things left over aren’t priority tasks that had to be done that day.
3. Schedule Time for High Priorities First
The things that really need to get done in a day should be done first, if at all possible.
In some cases that might not work, because you could have an appointment related to a task that you can’t do anything about until later in the day. But the things that you can take care of on your own should always be done first, so you can get them completed and move onto the next thing.
If you leave high-priority tasks for late in the day, there’s a chance that they won’t all get done and you’ll be left frustrated and scrambling to complete them the next day. That’s no fun, and can put you behind on things that need to get done.
4. Do the Things You Like Least, First
If you have higher-priority tasks that you also don’t like to do, they should absolutely be done first. That way they’re done and over with, and you don’t have to worry about them anymore. If those tasks are lower priority but they don’t take long, and you really dislike them, you might also want to do them first, or at least early in the day, so you don’t have them hanging around later, when you might be getting tired.
Doing things you don’t enjoy isn’t fun, but it’s something you have to do sometimes. Get those tasks out of the way, and you can move on to something else.
5. Don’t Forget to Take Breaks
While getting things done is really important, you have to remember to take proper care of yourself. That means taking breaks, so you can get some rest and relaxation during the day. Even if you only take short breaks, those little moments that allow you to recharge are great ways to feel better and stay focused on getting things accomplished.
Small periods of rest can give you renewed energy and focus, so you want to keep working on the things on your list. You’ll get more done if you take those breaks, and if you do only one thing at a time. Bouncing around might seem productive, but making a list, prioritizing tasks, and knocking out those tasks you don’t like to do first can be a much better use of your time, effort, and energy.