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How to Get It All Done

Let’s be clear from the start. No one can get it all done. It’s a total myth. Like unicorns and fairies, it makes us feel better to believe in it.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get more done.

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1. Schedule.

I cannot say this enough. There is no way to stay on track and remember everything without a schedule. I schedule time for fitness, friends, and food (and everything else that’s important). When it’s on the schedule, I have no excuse for why it can’t be done.

I use Google calendar and a paper planner. My Google calendar includes the time blocks of when I will do each thing listed on my planner for the day.

2. Plan. 

At the end of every week I map out my work schedule and write down all of the deadlines for the week. I usually sit down on Friday afternoons and roughly sketch out when I want to get everything done.

At the end of every work day, I write out my top three tasks for the next day (see below). That way when I sit down to work in the morning, I already know what I’m doing and I can jump right in. It also forces me to face the tasks that I don’t want to do.

3. Make a lists.

I make lists. I make them constantly. I have lists about other lists. Call me crazy, but without them I will forget things or stress that I am forgetting things. These lists stop the late night epiphanies that I forgot a deadline or keep me from realizing when I am already 10 minutes late that I have no gas in my car and I won’t make it to my destination without stopping for some. My lists also help me to get tasks done that typically fall through the cracks like cleaning the bathroom in a semi-regular fashion.

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4. Prioritize.

I am guilty of putting every task I can think of on a single day. To stop the madness, my daily to-do list is broken into two categories: my top three tasks and other tasks I would like to get done. I do my best to not start on the other tasks until I have finished my top three. There are also days where I only have a top one or two tasks that will take me most of the day and all of my energy. That’s great too.

Prioritize what you have to do to prevent wasted time and leaving things that must get done that day until it’s too late. When everything feels like a huge priority, realize that you will get everything done on the list if you have been realistic with your schedule. All you need to do is get started and start hacking away at it.

5. Be realistic. 

Accept that getting it all done is a myth. You cannot do it all one a day. But you can make a serious dent and have a productive day. Be honest with yourself about how long things will take and do not try to get more done than you can. You can’t get it all done if you overcommit yourself and burn out.

6. Stay focused.

You have to keep yourself on track. Your boss, professor, or mother cannot sit next to you all day and remind you to be working. Your job is to stay on task and not let yourself waste time you don’t have. I use the Pomodoro Technique to keep myself on task and motivated.

Put away distractions, especially social media and often the entire internet in general. Go to a place where you get work done like the library or coffee shop. If you like to work from home, make a special space for working where you don’t let yourself get distracted.

7. Treat yourself!

After all of your hard work, you need to seriously show yourself some appreciation. Go for a run, watch a TV show, go out with friends, read a book, whatever you want it to be. Just be sure your top three are done first.

*This is an updated version of this post about getting it all done in college.

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