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In my last two blogs, I’ve been talking about ways to avoid procrastination, increase personal productivity, and become a new person — someone who gets things done. I first suggested creating a notebook to record your to-do lists and vital information you may need later. It will serve as an external hard drive for your brain.In the second blog on the subject, I talked about how you can approach your to-do lists each morning to motivate you to start work quickly, which will help you stop wasting time. My advice was to pick a few easy tasks that will ease you into the work mode. Before you know it, you are up and running, getting lots done.
These and techniques I’ll discuss in this blog not only help you meet deadlines and move ahead in life, they help transform you into a highly productive person, one who can accomplish things. They build a new, more confident you…one you can be proud of.
Another trick I’ve developed that helps me get motivated to I work, stay on track while I work, and complete major tasks that involve many hours is the use of an egg time. Each morning when I sit down at my desk, I set the egg time for 45 to 50 minutes. I then begin work on a project, knowing that I’ve got that amount of time to get my work done before I take a break usually going outside to take care of some fun chore. I’ve found that the timer motivates me to work harder and faster. It gives me an immediate deadline. As a result, I find myself racing against the timer to perform a particular task. I know I’ve got a limited amount of time to accomplish a few things on this mini deadline. A lot of people work best when they’re down to the wire.The egg timer also helps me keep on track. That is, when I know I have 50 minutes to complete my work, I stay focused on the work at hand.
Another trick that has helped me is breaking really big tasks that require huge amounts of time and take several months to finish — like writing a book, preparing a report, creating a PowerPoint presentation — into small, manageable chunks. For example, I typically allot 3 to 4 hours in a day to work on one of my book. I list each hour on my schedule, then start work. When I finish hour 1, which is 45 to 55 minutes, I check it off, then take a brief break, heading out to the yard to take care of some fun task. I sometimes use the time to get a little exercise. When my break is over, I immediately head back to my desk, set the egg timer, then knock out another chunk of work. Next thing I know, I’ve completed another 50 minutes of work, and it is time to go outside again to take care of some fun work. In ten minutes, I’m done with my outdoor work, and back at my desk. Next thing I know, I’ve completed my four hours of work on that project. I now turn my attention to smaller tasks, the daily stuff we all need to do to.
I continue this work regime for months on end when I’m writing new book. Three, four, five, sometimes six hours a day, five or six months at a time. Before I know it, I’ve completed another book. I’ve used this technique for many years and it’s helped me enormously. In the past 32 years, I’ve published 30 books, completed numerous revisions of my college textbooks, and have penned several hundred articles and blogs. This technique is like climbing a mountain. Give yourself plenty of time so you arrive on time. Complete one part of the journey at a time. Don’t focus on the long trek ahead of you, which can be mind boggling. Take one step at a time, one day at a time, and sooner than you could ever imagine, you’ll be perched on the top.
By allotting four to five hours a day for each long-term project, and starting early in the game, I avoid having to scramble at the last minute to complete a book. Things go smoothly. All other tasks I shoe horn into the remaining work hours. That way, the urgent doesn’t displace the important projects that pay the bills. As most readers know, it’s extremely easy to become distracted by the little urgent details that come up every day. They can derail really important long-term money-making projects.
Some of my outdoor chores may require a lot of time, too, but I chip away at them 10 or 15 minutes at a time sometimes for several days…and, again, before I know it, I’m done. These techniques will ease your burden, reduce stress and anxiety, and help you sleep at night. They can turn you into a winner, a man or woman who gets things done.
What’s really cool about all this is that you don’t just finish lots of tasks, you become a new person. In other words, completing task will not just move you forward, relieve tension, and help you reach your goals, it also changes you into a new person – a doer, an accomplished member of society.
Remember, it is not what you achieve, it’s what you become in the process.
Contributing editor Dan Chiras is a renewable energy and green homes expert who has spent a lifetime learning life’s lessons, which he shares in his popular blog, Dan Chiras on Loving Life. He’s the founder and director of The Evergreen Institute and president of Sustainable Systems Design. Contact him by visiting his website or finding him on Google+.