Before my last out-of-town trip, I had my most productive day in a long time.
In fact, I easily completed twice as much in one day as I normally do, including two landing pages, a 3-page letter, and an autoresponder email. I also added some finishing touches to two other pieces and created outlines for two upcoming emails for a client.
Feeling proud of myself, I remembered one of Zig Ziglar’s lessons for getting more done:
“Treat every day like it’s the day before vacation, and you will get more work done!”
Between company visiting and doing more traveling, lately I’ve had to really focus on getting things done in a shorter amount of time. No matter what, it always seems the day before, I’m down to the wire on things. That means I’m up early and get down to business immediately.
Maybe you’re like that, too. You know what you need to get done before a vacation. You bang away, head down, to make sure you get everything completed so you can leave and not have to take work with you.
You don’t get on Facebook or spend time trying to decide what to do next. You have an agenda. And if it’s not completed, you’re leaving someone hanging.
Here are some tips to help you treat every day like you are going on vacation:
- Make a list. Rebecca Matter recommends using Post-it notes to write your goals for the next day. (Read her article here.) Make a list of everything you’ve got to get done—then work and don’t stray.
- Empower others to act for you. When you go on vacation, you probably leave other people in charge of things, like taking care of your pet or getting your mail. What tasks are you doing that you can delegate to someone else? Enlist family members to do chores and basic business things, like getting the mail, depositing checks, etc. For an ongoing solution, you might consider contacting your local college to see about getting an intern that could help you with things like updating your website, research, and other business tasks that aren’t essential for you to do yourself.
- Organize by importance. Just like when you go out of town, itemize things by importance. Do the things that must get done first and that absolutely can’t be carried over to the next day.
- Get difficult things out of the way first. Complete the items you anticipate as being the most difficult first. When you get the hard tasks out of the way first, it not only makes the rest of your day seem easy, but you also won’t be distracted and can concentrate on what else you have to do.
- Unplug. It’s a good idea to unplug appliances when you leave for vacation and an even better idea to unplug from social media and your phone during scheduled work time. Schedule your phone calls for a set time and stick to it. Either turn your phone off or silence your phone so you won’t be tempted to take phone calls outside your scheduled phone time. You can also set a phone message that lets people know when you return calls. Likewise with social media: block yourself from checking Facebook, Twitter, and other sites which distract you from working.
- Hold the mail. Email, that is. Just like holding your mail while on vacation, hold off on checking your email until late in the day, and only check it once so you won’t be distracted from what you’ve already scheduled yourself to do. If you are worried that people need an answer from you, set up your “out of office” autoresponder so that people won’t expect an answer from you immediately.
- Make the commitment to get it done. Get serious about tackling your daily to-do list. If you were really going out of town the next day and wouldn’t be back for a week, you’d have to get it done, right? Otherwise, you’d leave a person hanging. Make a commitment to finishing your work in a set amount of time, and don’t stop until you’ve finished it.
Be aggressive by taking a few minutes to make a plan the night before, organizing your schedule, sticking to it, and avoiding veering off into other directions, no matter how tempting they are.
When you do, you’ll not only get more done in a shorter amount of time, but you’ll also experience less stress and find yourself with more free time to do the things you want.