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Getting More Done Than You Thought Possible

Have you ever had so many projects on your plate, you weren't sure how or if you could get them all done? But then somehow you did?

Last Monday night as I climbed into bed, almost too wiped out to sleep, I thought about what allowed me to finish every item on my list but one—and a handful of items that weren't on the list.

Knowing I was heading out the next morning on vacation helped. Signing up for a 5:30 am ride to the airport might have helped. Lining up Nader at Exclusive Limousine Service definitely helped.

A few more Ultimate Reminders to help you get more done:

Manage your energy and your time.

Years ago, Harvard Business Review published a lengthy article by Tony Schwartz titled “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.” It’s worth reading, but you may find it much more helpful to manage both. Why leave anything off the table?

For example, I’ve learned I do my best writing early in the morning. When you're writing a book as I am and other people are counting on you to meet your deadlines, you strategize in as many ways as you can. That’s the manage-your-energy part.

But I’ve also learned to take more breaks. Contrary to outward appearances, breaks increase productivity. A few things I was able to slip into the fragments of time in between the actual items on my list:

  • Writing a friendly note to my parents
  • Laughing with my brother, having an upbeat conversation
  • Cheering on a friend who just moved across the country
  • Writing a requested testimonial for my web team
  • Spending time with Toby, my neighbor's Yorkie.

Look at the fragments of time in your own day, especially those times when you could most use a break. How could you put them to their highest use? The so-called little things end up boosting your energy to tackle the big things.

Get it all out of your head.

I heard this on a TEDx Talk from David Allen, of Getting Things Done fame. It helps tremendously to get all your commitments out of your head and onto paper or screen. Use a spreadsheet, use an app, use a spiral notebook. The method matters less than simply doing it.

As you’ve heard me say before, I like the free app Wunderlist, because it lets the user create lists, create subtasks, and reorder both with the flick of a finger. It’s also inordinately satisfying to hear the ‘ding’ when an item is checked off the list.

Careful how you talk to yourself.

The more commitments you have on your plate, the more crucial it is to speak to yourself (and about yourself) in affirmative language. What you affirm can start to take on a life of its own. Speak strength and optimism.

Put first things first.

When I start my day with Mass or exercise (realizing they're two totally different things), I get so much more done and handle stress so much better. I try not to do either activity for the goodies, but the goodies happen anyway.

What morning habit or ritual makes all the difference in your day? Do it. And watch what it does for your sense of joy and resilience.

P.S. Speaking of taking a break …

The one thing I didn't get done last Monday was finish packing. Now that I'm packed and on my way, I’m taking a break in every sense of the word. In my absence next week, feel free to revisit past Pep Talks. Looking forward to reconnecting the week after next!

When you’re working on a big project, it’s easy to convince yourself you’re too busy to breathe.

Gina DeLapa

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at UltimateReminders.com/mondaymorningpeptalk.