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3 Simple Tips to Help Get Things Done

I have always had a problem with motivating myself to do things – despite a wealth of great ideas and good intentions, I’ve been working on this lately and wanted to share a few of my tips.

Tip 1 – Say ‘no’.

This may sound counter-intuitive but learning to say no is one of the strongest weapons you have against distraction. If you want to motivate yourself you’ve got to take control. There is no better way of showing than you’re in control than simply saying ‘no’.

Most of us have a sense of guilt about saying no, a sense that we will miss an opportunity, perhaps we’re worried about appearing weak or incapable or we may be concerned about letting some one down. This is perfectly normal. However, we must overcome these fears.

Think for a moment about the reverse. Imagine that you said yes to everything, every task, every request and every meeting. You’d soon be swamped your work load would be unbearable you’d cut corners just to get by, quality would slip followed very quickly by your reputation. You’d end up resenting your work, your colleagues and your customers simply because of the burden that they place on you.

Remember you have a choice, and it is your choice to say no.

Tip 2 – Time boxing

Time boxing is a very simple but very powerful technique. It’s often used in project management particularly in software development, I know a number of start ups who love this technique!

Put simply time boxing consists of allotting a set amount of time to any given task. For example instead of thinking, ‘I must get round to writing that article’ I set myself an allocated time to complete it (in this case 60 minutes on a sunny Sunday afternoon). It may not be perfect, but it will get done and get shipped within the time frame.

You can apply time boxing to pretty much anything in your life. I find that it removes the pressure of thinking about a task and allows me to get on with it, as time procrastinating eats into my delivery time. Try it for household chores, exercise or writing, you’ll find it works wonders for your productivity.

Tip 3 – Write a book

My most useful tool is my A6 hard back note book I bought from the supermarket for 87 pence. To me it’s priceless. Everyday I write in my note book, I never fill a page and I put each thing I need to do on a line. Once I have completed an activity I tick it off. I don’t necessarily move through the list in order and anything I don’t do that day gets carried over to the next, I don’t beat myself up over not completing tasks I just carry them over to make sure that I don’t forget to do them.

I find that writing myself these lists helps me organise and prioritise and stops me worrying about all of this things I have to do. It’s probably a psychological thing but seeing the list on a small piece of paper, makes it appear less daunting – than a big thick A4 notebook (it’s also a lot easier to fit into my pocket!)

I also find that my little notebook can be used as a pick me up – I can look back over all of the jobs I have done that day, that week or that month which gives me an enormous sense of achievement and helps to remind me that I’m heading in the right direction.

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J J Murray is co founder of []