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How to Get More Done

Posted By Darren Rowse 28th of August 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

The most common question I’m asked lately seems to be:

“How do you get so many things done?”

To be perfectly honest – it’s a question I would never have anticipated anyone would ever ask of me – as I’ve mentioned here before, before I got into blogging I used to be quite…. well…. lazy.

But since getting into blogging and starting my own business I have turned that around – at least on a work front (Mrs ProBlogger would still like me to do the dishes a little more). Over the last 6 years there may have only been 1-2 days when I didn’t post at least two blog posts – deadlines were never my forte but I’m somewhat obsessed about them now.

Today while out for a walk (something I try to fit in most days) I was pondering this change in me and trying to work out what was behind it. I came up with two things that at the least play a part in this for me and decided to whip out my iPhone and record them as a mini podcast (or walkcast).

PS: my 2nd point reminds me a little of a line in a poem by Rudyard Kipling that I’ve been pondering lately titled IF.

“
If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it”

I’m sure there are many interpretations on it – but for me the idea of an unforgiving minute is that time is something that you can’t get back. The next minute of your life is something that will be gone for ever in 60 seconds – in that way it’s unforgiving.

So Kipling suggests filling it with sixty seconds of distance running. Sixty seconds of effort that will make a lasting difference. You might not do a complete marathon in sixty seconds of effort but you’ll certainly be a step closer to it.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. If you enjoy what you do it’s a lot easier to find time. Other things that are priorities tend to hit the back burner for me.

    Many people procrastinate a lot of their time. This is done by watching t.v or playing on the pc.

    Take advantage of your time and don’t procrastinate.

  2. Hey Darren,

    For me I like to hit the gym to which takes a little bit longer than 60 seconds. But this allows me to focus on my goals and visualize what I’m going to accomplish. It is like a ritual for me. Not to mention…I get a workout at the same time. :)

    Have a great weekend…
    Josh

  3. Ha! You could have been describing me. Before I started my blog and business, I’d do the work I had to… but that was it. Now, the passion for what I do is so strong that I can’t imagine going a day without it!

  4. Very thought provoking section of a poem. Should inspire anyone who reads it to make the very most of life.

  5. When you love what you do, you don’t think twice about it. You just go and do it. Kind of like playing your favourite video game – you don’t say to yourself “I love this game but nah…I’ll play it later.” ;)

  6. Darren!

    You hit on a very salient point in your discussion. Looking at your next most important task as something you can jump-start in 60 seconds is probably why you are empowered to do so much.

    In my coaching & consulting I find that oftentimes people don’t get things done because they are overwhelmed by how much they have to do. They look at the their goals and tasks in a way that increases the difficulty of tackling the challenge.

    The wonderful thing about looking at what you need to do in terms of the “next 60 seconds” is that you are forced to breakdown the goal/task.

    It keeps you in the moment, and in that moment you can take on more step towards your desired result.

    Breaking down your to-do list, your goals, or projects in to 60 second steps will enable you to get the momentum you need to blast through what can turn into a productive hour or more.

    Great insight. :)

  7. I loved the postcast. It fits with the book I´m reading now, Getting Things Done.

    You act really quick in getting a bit more than 60 seconds recorded which will help lots of people to get more done.

    Your recording is definitely a get-more-done multiplier.

  8. I’ve been experiencing the same things . . . I’m getting more done because I enjoy what I’m doing so much, and I’m taking small steps and using short focus periods to work on long-term projects.

    I’ve also pared a lot of ‘unessential things’ from my blogging routine so I can put my attention on the things that provide value to readers and to my vision.

  9. Funny how so much of the advice goes back to doing something you are passionate about. If you love your niche then you won’t have a problem putting the effort into your blogging.

  10. No question visualization helps me. When I take time out to do it consistently (20 min) I just move faster and shave off extra minutes. It makes me want it to come faster so I move faster thus getting more done.

    Also last night I started writing a to do list with just two of the most important things I want to get done the following day (got that from Tim Ferris). Just two. Eventually I want to work my way to having those be the things I get done first thing when I wake up so it will give me a boost for the rest of the day.

  11. Thanks for taking the time to record this encouraging walkcast. Time management and goals are the main topics of learning for me right now.

    I especially liked the concept of making the most use of the next 60 seconds.

  12. Well, this is very true! Every second is unforgivable and most of us don’t realize its importance. Can we get a second in our life back? NO. After reading your post, I am feeling a lot guilty about leaving a Sunday without posting (I normally don’t post on Sundays :)). Hereafter I would do more :) your post fuelled me!

    Thanks Darren.

  13. Thank you for sharing this today, it resonates with me so. I’m finally doing something I enjoy and want to make the most of it. I too used to watch tv , eat, read, I spent so much time thinking of things I could do instead of doing them. I will keep this poem verse in front of me as a reminder.

  14. First of all great quote. “If” has long been one of my favorite poems.

    It is true that the only way you get anywhere is one single step at a time, so just getting a huge series of little things accomplished is a great way to go about this.

  15. I use an alternative GTD technique called Pomodoro technique, working it spurts of 25 minutes interrupted by 5-minute/15-minute breaks to clear the mind.

    http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

    I find it easier to accomplish things in parts instead of worrying about what I need to finish for the day.

    A small task done is one task less on the Todo List.

    Gerry

  16. The system that works for me is to focus on work for 50 minutes, then take a 10 minute break.

    Like yesterday, I worked for 50 minutes, then had breakfast. Back to focus for 50, then I jumped rope 250x and did 25 push ups in 10 mins. The next 50 work, then 10 minutes tending to my garden…and so on till about 5:30pm.

    I’m fortunate that I work and exercise from home so I can quickly move from work to rest, but variations of this can be done at work too.

  17. I loved your comment about asking “what can I do at this moment that will get me closer to my goals”. Sitting outside and reading that book won’t do it.

    And it brings me to another big thing: updating goals. I’m big on writing out goals but like many solopreneurs, I often find that I may put off updating those goals. When I do, my productivity goes way down because my goals no longer reflect my current reality.

    Another thing that helps with getting things done is lumping like tasks together. When I write 3 or 4 blog posts on one day I’m much more efficient than if I write one per day.

    Thanks for the great post.

  18. I find that I am much more motivated once I actually get up and working. Once I have completed a task, no matter how big or small, it always motivates me to do more in the same vein.

  19. This reminds me completely of me. Before I did what needed to be done. Now I go above and beyond with every client, and I try to with every blog post. I think now that my name is attached, it gives me the push I need to be the best I can be.

  20. It reminids me of the saying- if you need to get something done, give tit to a busy person.

    We all have time to do the things we want to do. It’s the things we procrastinate, like Mrs. Problogger’s dishes for instance, that become the things that we can’t find time for.

    You have to really look inside yourself and decide whether or not you really want the thing that you need to do. If you’re excited about it, there is usually a little space inside all of us.

    Darren, I really like the idea of a walkcast. Especially because walking or other physical activity can really bring out some great creative ideas from your subconscious.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  21. That quote reminded me of another quote I stumbled upon a few days ago as I was browsing, you guessed it, quotes…

    “If you have an hour, will you not improve that hour, instead of idling it away?”
    -Lord Chesterfield

    I thought that it conveyed similar thoughts, although in a different manner.

  22. Thanks for the advice. Having recently started a freelance writing business, I am trying to get my schedule under control and use my time more wisely.

  23. I find it helpful to keep index cards in my pocket or in a folder I keep with me most of the days.

    On the cards I have four categories – Mine are labeled “Stones,” “Pebbles,” “Sand” and “Water” – indicating the continuum of large to small tasks.

    I usually try to knock out the stones early in my day which take more effort. When small tasks come to mind that could distract me from what I am doing, I simply list them in the easier categories and then move on.

    Later in the day when I have less mental energy (I’m a morning person), I come back to the more menial tasks and knock those out with the time I have left in the day.

  24. The one downside of this outlook is that it discounts the quality time that’s not directly task-related. I’m living in Mexico now and the business people here wouldn’t dream of giving up a 3-hour lunch with a colleague or business contact in order to knock a few more tasks off their to-do list. As a result, they seem to me to have deeper relationships and people they know they can depend on when they really need a favor. In the end, that makes them very successful.

    I too am a big fan of Tim Ferriss’ proposition of getting two things done every day. I rarely even keep a to-do list anymore. The things that really matter are clear before I even turn on my computer. Most of the rest can wait. It’s way too easy to get sucked into answering e-mails and twittering away time on social media addictions. Six hours later, you often haven’t really accomplished anything that will be lasting.

  25. Hi Darren,
    I have a ‘not to do’ list imbedded in my brain which includes not checking email too frequently. I also have a ‘daily top priorty list’ that includes business items and family and personal goals too.

    I also find work expands to the time available. So I make sure my work time is focused as much as possible.

    By the way, I get some great ideas while I am hiking alone and I carry a pen and paper to jot them down. A recording device might get wet where I live.

    Have a great weekend,
    David
    http://www.TheWonderTechnique.com

  26. I have gotten a lot busier in one part of my life, and that has forced me to take an honest look at how I was spending those moments of free time. I realized that there was sense of entitlement sitting behind my hours of wasted TV and web surfing activities. If I worked hard, I’m “allowed” to use this other time however I want right? But that isn’t moving me further in my own business, and I’m definitely not focused on the right things that are going to get me further on the path towards any other goals.

    So I’ve started combining things where I can (listening to podcasts/webinars on walks or on the bus) and getting up 30 min earlier to journal. Those things help me keep the end game in mind, and make it easier to come home and be excited about spending my time writing or doing other activities related to my business.

    This is great insight Darren- thanks!!

  27. Nice post, its true that results come only if you work on it sincere and passionately. love blogging and that will motivate you to go on.
    Thanks for the advice.Sure to use my time wisely .

  28. Finding the motivator can be hard. I can tell you that working on my business is easy to motivate myself on … Doing the dishes not so much me either

  29. I focus on meaningful results and I leverage principles, patterns, and practices for exponential results.

    Here are a few things that work well for me:
    – write my life forward, a story at a time
    – do “worst things first” so the rest of my day is a glide-path
    – guard my “power hours” with a passion
    – spend 80% of my time on solutions, and 20% on the problem
    – remind myself that it’s not time spent, it’s value delivered
    – remind myself that value is in the eye of the beholder
    – find a way to flow value along the way vs. big bang at the end
    – use stories to carve out meaningful results
    – focus on outcomes over activities
    – apply The Rule of 3 to set healthy limits
    – treat time as a first class citizen
    – start with why – flip it around, from why, why, how … to why, how, what
    – automate success with some checklists and routines
    – connect work to my values and internalize success
    – spend 80% of my time in my strengths, and 20% of my time in weaknesses
    – love the job I’m with, or find a job I love
    – use metaphors to inspire — I don’t “do my project” …I lead an epic adventure, or I direct a blockbuster
    – pair up and team up with people to get over humps and hurdles
    – spend more time with catalysts, and less time with drains (tasks and people)

  30. Hi Darren, I wonder how many others sat nodding their heads as the read your blog. A great many I suspect. Sadly we tend not to value those moments whilst we are in them, i lost a great deal of my mobility a while back. And I started wollowing in the poor poor pitiful me crap…Then I got a wake up call, bigtime…my life is the only thing I can actively contribute to. So I went head down bum up and into it.
    Now the days have not enough hours, I resent the need to sleep, too many books in me left to write. I love every sparkling moment, the bad times only serve as a reminder of just how great the good times feel.

    Excellent blog.
    Soooz

  31. That is absolutely correct. Time flies and cannot get it back. Every second we spend alive must be consumed worthwhile. Work and work is all we do to make a life. I just wonder why we have to work all of our lives now while our ancestors were just contented to have their meals in front of them then lay away. Big difference isn’t it?

  32. Darren,

    You’re superman!

    2 Blog posts a day for years? My hat is off to you.

    How do I get things done? Hmmm. Mrs. BizNetCentral would say that I don’t get things done.

    Case in point: Her car is out in the garage and needs a new clutch. Today, the choice was:

    1.) Set up a new WordPress site, or
    2.) Work on the Truck.

    Well, guess which won?

    But the truth is, I’m a workaholic. But not a fixaholic.

    A thinkaholic, but not a do-aholic.

    I suppose that’s somewhat related to what you say about the unrecoverable minute. The truth is, we’re all given a limited amount of time here, and we dare not waste it.

    From day one, we are fodder for eternity.

    It’s a humbling thought really.

    Great Post Darren,

    John

  33. Darren – Your recognition of the preciousness of each moment of human life – as expressed in the poem – is so commendable! It really helps to sort out one’s priorities – that’s for sure.

  34. Hello,
    I agree with you 100% – time is an essence. Every lost minute is a minute you can not get back. My schedule allows me to ride my mountain bike 2-3 times a week for several hours. During my ride I process a lot of my own ideas and information from different blogs like yours in my head. This is the only time that I have just to myself. My mind is clear. After I am done with my ride I quickly take my Iphone and plug new ideas and projects into my Evernote app. This routine keeps my blog going. I stopped watching TV long time ago.

  35. Loved it when you said: “The next minute of your life is something that will be gone for ever in 60 seconds”..I am inspired.
    BTW, I’m surprised to know that ProBlogger ‘was’ lazy :)

  36. MP4 is a sweet addition!…

    :]

  37. I’m with Darren on this one. Unless I make effort to blog, I don’t blog. It takes effort on my part, but when I get down to it, when it becomes habit, then I become incredibly productive.

  38. Heh, love that you didn’t even stop to record that. The thing that’s had the most impact on me this year has been defining my goals and looking at them every day. I’ve got a statement above my desk that reads “Is this helping you achieve your goals?” <- keeps me on track when I get distracted.

  39. Hmmm, 60 seconds eh? I got it. I’m writing a book that involves 365 mini challenges. I can dream up and hash out the skeleton of a challenge in 60 seconds. Much more inspiring than sitting down to write a whole load in one go and finding myself stuck. Thanks Darren. :)

  40. I love the idea of a walkcast! There is a different way my ideas flow when I am walking, recording them is a great idea. Thanks!

  41. Claire Hayes says: 08/28/2010 at 10:30 pm

    I put your recording on “pause” and jumped right up to do something I was putting off by opening my email, then I came right back to finish listening! Very motivational. Thank you.

  42. geez, you go for a walk and record your blog post and quote Kipling.

    Darren, you do know that makes you unique, right?

  43. well, no need a lot of time for posting isn’t it?

    just post what’s in your mind and readers will help you build the content

  44. You are so right that if you enjoy something and are passionate about it, you will have much more success in making the time to work on it. I always said I was going to get up an hour earlier in the morning and work on my writing before I went to my “real” job. Then the alarm would go off, I would hit snooze, and things never changed. But once I started my blog, and was writing about things I was having fun with, everything changed. The alarm goes off now, and I actually get up and go to the computer and do something relating to my blog for that hour before I leave for work. Passion for a subject is the fuel that gets you moving.

  45. Kathie Oleson says: 08/29/2010 at 2:49 am

    If a person is not currently doing what he loves, and his long-term goals aren’t clear, those extra moments can be spent first imagining the details of the life he’s always wanted. When that is complete and written, the moments can be spent building the path to get there. I think i just told myself what I need to do.

  46. “
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it”
    really inspiring sir!
    and i agree with your interpretation. i wish Mrs faizan will comment same about me after 6 yrs! :)

  47. Awhile back Leo from Zen Habits wrote a posts suggesting we should throw away our to do lists, and only focus on ONE thing that needs to get done for that day. Initially I thought he was crazy, an otherwise sane man, gone mad from drinking too much herbal tea.

    But I’m beginning to understand what he was saying, how it’s not about how much we do, but how we do it and often, less is more.

    At any given time we only have 100%. If we’re doing two tasks at once, we’re giving less than 100% to each. On your walk, Darren, you were a bit breathless and to be honest, It stressed me out and I felt a false sense of urgency. That sixty second portion of your walk could have been used as a respite for you, a time for your brain to break away from work, capture everything there is to see in the outside world, and breathe.

    I love the concept of utilizing every free minute, but I disagree that a minute of walking time is a free minute subject to disposal.

  48. I’ve always been a hard worker and a high achiever, but after more than two and a half years of blogging, I’m tired.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  49. Love my Android phone and Astrid task manager. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a to-do list. I still like doing some things on a whim but other things need to be planned. Disorganized people never are successful and always lost in clutter.

  50. First of all I like the idea of the mini podcast!

    I’m a big fan of both David Allen’s Getting things done and the Promodoro Technique:

    http://bigredtomatocompany.co.uk/life-hacks/pomodoro-technique/

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