How to Get It All Done

I was talking with an acquaintance the other day about my week and listed off what I had done and what was left and apparently I had a much bigger list then theirs and they asked with a shocked look on their face “How do you get it all done?”

Yes I was a very busy guy, I write this blog, do the odd freelance gig, help friends with odd jobs, fix things around the house, renovate the house and yard, work 90% at a day job, put an additional 10 to 15 hours on school board business a week (meetings, parent calls, reviewing material and asking questions to the administration) for three years.  Some how I also still find time to spend with my kids, talk with my wife.  Now without the school board work things I do admit things are much more relaxed, but I did learn some good skills from those years.

While I’m not a productivity guru, but I do know the issue with always having more things to do than time to do them all.  So I’ve managed to develop a bit of system of dealing with things, which might help you a little bit with your busy time this holiday season.

1) Keep the Calender up to Date
I run an electronic calendar that I would literally be lost if I didn’t have it.  I keep my work calender fully updated and export a copy to my Google Calender with then sync with my tablet and iPod Touch.  So I always have a calendar on me with reminders of what is coming up next.

2) Know your Priorities
In some respects I’m lucky when it comes to my priorities in life.  I never have to guess when something if more important them something else  I just know.  It also really helps that I have taken a first come first serve idea to time management.  If you want me for something book it right now.  I work on a first come and first serve system, which I will only break for very important reasons.  So when you ask and I have the time I will typically say yes.

3) Cut out the Crap
I like to tell people that I typically have about an extra 10 hours a week over them…how?  I don’t wast any time on crap.  I’ve went through my life with a fine tooth comb looking for grains of time and put all it towards what matters the most to me.  So in the process I’ve killed off a lot of my obligations or habits and found ways to squeeze usage out those extra five or 10 minutes blocks of time you have in a day.

For example, I used to play a lot of video games when I was younger before kids, now I almost exclusively play only with my kids. I’ve also given up watching anything on regular TV, I’m a pure DVD or Netflix watching guy.  Why?  I should be able to watch a show when I want, not when it is on (and you save commercial time).  I’m also prefer books to most forms of entertainment, since it is possible to read a book in 10 to 15 minutes chunks of time.  Also I kept iPod Touch on my just about all the time so I would use my five minutes to clean up my email and then sync it back later on.

4) Book yourself
While I generally operate on the first come first serve time booking method I was also careful to always book in some me time each week.  I always tried to keep one free evening a week to relax and hang out with the family then also do another time slot over the weekend.  I know I get really bitchy if I’m too stressed so managing that makes me a much better person to live with.

5) Never waste time…unless that is the goal.
I’ve liken myself to a shark some times…if I stop moving I’m sure I’ll die some weeks.  Except when I’ll planning on doing is nothing..then I can sit still and let my mind wonder for like 30 minutes and never feel a drop of guilt…because that is what I’m supposed to be doing then!  It might sound odd, but the occasional break of nothing is hugely enjoyable when you really busy.  Wasting time becomes the ultimate luxury. You just have to get used to repressing the urge to do something.

So that was what worked for me, but how do you handle your really busy weeks in your life?