bits from bob....

People Who Get a Lot Done

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Throughout my life, I have wanted to be a person who gets a lot done. I value that as a legacy. I want my life to matter. I want to make a difference. It seems that is most likely to happen when one gets a lot done. Getting a lot done in the long term requires that one's daily life be lived with the same goal in mind. How does one get a lot done, day after day, week after week, year after year?

Get organized.
Without organization, our lives resemble the story of the fellow who had so much to do that he jumped on his horse and rode off in four different directions. Organization brings focus to life. Organization is an essential first step to accomplishing several of the items below. Without organization, it is difficult to do the things suggested. Organization gets us where we need to be when we need to be there. Organization allows us to anticipate what is coming and be prepared. I know a Bible class teacher who typically wastes 20-25% of his teaching time because disorganization means running late, always having one more detail to handle, and preparing at the last minute.

Take care of first things first.
Keep the main thing the main thing. Have a priority list. Do the most important things first. Make it your priority every day to do the things that matter most. Avoid the temptation to deal first with urgent trivia. Start well. Most people who get a lot done start early in the day when there are fewer distractions. If you commit to getting a lot done early, you will consistently start the day on the right foot.

Learn how to say no.
Knowing how to say no will help you maintain a valid priority list. Learn the difference between a priority list and a valid priority list. Too many priority lists get filled with items that are not priorities, except that a promise was made and must now be fulfilled.

Maintain a flexible to-do list.
Learn the difference between a priority list and a to-do list. Use both. Use the little moments to take care of little stuff. You are less likely to sweat the little stuff if you learn to take care of it in the crevices of life. Recognize that some things on the typical to-do list are niceties, and the world will not stop if they never get done. Be bold enough to scratch such items from the list.

Recognize the value of taking breaks.
I am helped by changing activities. I do not have to have total disengagement to find the reset button; I find refreshment in changing tasks. Many people need genuine "down time." Even on break, recognize that sometimes, the mind keeps working on a task as it idles, and suddenly the way becomes clear.

Avoid overload.
A valid uncluttered priority list, a flexible to-do list, and the opportunity to spend time off-task or on alternate tasks-these are essential. Some folks think the way to get a lot done is through overwork. People who get a lot done are consistently busy, occupied, dedicated, and on task, but they are not overworked. They do not have more to do than they can get done. Balance the workload.

Recognize that not every task has to be done perfectly.
Perhaps there is a place for perfectionism-but there aren't very many! Few jobs have to be done perfectly every time. Is it better to have numerous blogs and articles waiting for the final, perfecting touch, or is it better to post what has been completed? The answer is not always easy--recognize the principle. Perfectionism often hobbles us and keeps us from getting anything done. Those who get a lot done understand the challenge presented by our tendencies toward perfectionism.

Avoid time-wasters.
Most lives are filled with time-wasters: trivial pursuits, peripheral issues, urgent tangents. Add numerous secondary tasks, people who use large hunks of our time with loitering and repeated visits, and multiplied media (think constant static through talk, noise, music, cell phones, Internet, email, Facebook, Twitter, social networking, televisionů.). Before long we are busy all day and get little done. A special notice of technology is imperative. Technology has become a great time-waster. People who get a lot done use technology to their advantage and avoid the temptation to let technology become a time-waster. The proper use of technology requires intentionality.

Apply these eight concepts to join the ranks of those who get a lot done. I remember them as four primary concepts and four helpful hints.
Get organized. Develop a valid priority list. Learn to say no. Keep a flexible to-do list.
Take breaks. Avoid overload. Be careful about perfectionism. Avoid time-wasters.

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Last updated January 26, 2015