get stuff done: tips + tricks + sanity

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October 26, 2013

Hi pumpkins! How was your week? It's Satturrrdaaayyyyyy!! Yesterday was an especially exciting day for me, not just because it was Friday but also because it was H's birthday! Which meant dinner and presents and happy things. But really, I was so glad his birthday falls on a Friday so I don't have to worry about classwork and everything tonight.

But speaking of classwork and just work in general, I want to share some tips today on how I get through crazy amounts of work. I've found a couple different tools and tips that help me get exponentially more things done.

1. The Pomodoro Method. This one's nothing new, I know, but it's good because it works. This method is best for when you have one task to work on for a long period of time. So this is great for using when working if you're self-employed or a freelancer or really whatever else you're doing. The basic premise of the method is that you work for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5 minutes or use that time to transition to another task. After 3-4 "Pomodoros", you take a 15 minute break. Read more about how it works here.

There are lots of tools online to help you with using this method. I especially like the "Simple Pomodoro Timer" app and The Pomodoro Method is really helpful because it keeps you from being distracted by email pings or other little distractions. It's much easier to let them wait if you know you have a five minute slot to deal with them in less than 25 minutes. I've found I'm much more focused and productive using this method.

2. LiltUp. This is an online "to-do" list of sorts but with a timer built in. Basically, you put it everything you have to do along with how long you think it'll take. LiltUp tells you what time you'll be done and then starts the timer for you. I like this tool because when I get home from classes or work, I'll put in literally everything I have for the night (even dinner/shower), and then if I have extra time before bed, I'll put different fun activities and schedule them in between my tasks.

This uber-scheduling might not work for some but it is so helpful for me. The only thing I don't like about LiltUp is that there isn't an app, so I have to be at my computer. If I'm doing work that's offline, that's frustrating because I get distracted by my computer easily.

3. StayFocusd. This is a web extension specifically for Google Chrome but I'm sure there are equivalent tools for other browsers if you look around. In essence, SF has a couple different settings to keep your from wasting time on pointless websites. In one option, you can set a daily max of time on sites like twitter or facebook or whatever your weakness is. After that time, it just won't let you access them. You can also set SF to block certain websites say for a certain time, like an hour, or a certain slot of time. And my favorite SF option is called Nuclear. In Nuclear, SF will block everything on the internet for however long you choose.

One of my favorite things about SF is that you can't go back and change settings (i.e. give yourself more time in the first option) easily. To change the time allowances, you have to copy a paragraph (about procrastination) word for word with no mistakes. It's way harder than you think. Oftentimes, my lazy side will just give up and I'll get back to work.

How do you stay focused + productive?

12 comments on "get stuff done: tips + tricks + sanity"
  1. that's basically exactely what I do, just without having an electronic timer^^
    I write my to-do list by hand mentioning how much time I want to spend on it... I need to check those websites :)
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love the pomodoro I have an app on my phone called Promodor and I love it! Also I am definitely going to have to find an app like StayFocused for Firefox because I'm sure that would help me out ;)

  3. These are all so great! Ever since I started working from home, my work days have felt a billion hours long because I get so distracted between tasks. Totally downloading SF immediately!

  4. Wow- those are all pretty great suggestions! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Scheduling every little thing out is SO helpful. I know some people can't get on board with that, but it helps immensely with productivity.

  6. That's how I feel too! It's literally a life saver (okay, not literally). I use that nuclear mode like there's no tomorrow.

  7. I'll look into that! And I hope so--it's really wonderful.

  8. That's a good way to do it! A lot of times I just go old-fashioned with pen + paper.

  9. For me, yes, definitely. But I know for some people, like my boyfriend, it would just stress him out more. In my planner, I literally have my day planned out to the minute--it's borderline obsessive.

  10. Never heard of those last two...awesome!! I need!!


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