A good way to get more done in your day is basically to just get more done. It’s very easy for web workers to become sidetracked between major items on the mighty to-do list because there is so much to attract your attention away from the next thing at hand — who’s Twittering, what’s come into my assorted email accounts, oh look who popped up on IM, anything new on my feeds. But these jaunts into distraction can significantly reduce the Things that you’re able to Get Done.
How to move on to the next important task? We’ve tried these techniques:
1. Keep it together. Have an on-deck circle for your major tasks with all the stuff you’ll need to make significant progress on the item in one place — a folder, project folio, or web-based work area. When you are ready to move from one task to the next, you won’t waste a lot of time trying to get all the assets together.
2. Don’t stop. Many people find that setting a fixed period of time to work — say 45 minutes — rather than setting out to just complete a to-do item is a better way to work. Having a time focus will keep you moving if the first thing you tackle turns out to be a trivial matter. A day can slip by too quickly if you find yourself working 10-minute problems interspersed with 20-minute coffee-fetching sprees.
3. Have a plan. You don’t need to sit there and figure out what you should tackle next — you’ve got a solid plan of the major things you’re trying to accomplish today. The next step is clear, and your task list is handy so making the switch is easy. Right?
4. Get it going. We all need to take a break, and certainly no one should be risking DVT so they can get more done. But defer your coffee spree for just a couple of minutes, and instead get started on the next task. Then when you come back caffeinated and ready to rock, you’ll already be started and will spend less time floundering.
5. Push past roadblocks.You’re really making progress when you reach a point where you need an answer from a colleague or client, and suddenly the happy GTD vibe you had dissolves — the one person who knows the answer is at lunch, in jail, napping under his desk, on vacation, whatever — the point is he’s not on the other end of the phone. Now is the time your commitment to moving quickly from task to task will be tested, so hang tough! You can make a reasonable guess about what the decider would want, evaluate the risk and possible cost of undoing that choice should it not be exactly the right thing, and then proceed. Nine times out of ten you’ll make the right decision, and you’re that much closer to Getting another Thing Done.