March 27, 2013

How To Get Stuff Done Even When You’re Mega Busy

Time management and organisation. Coolest words in the dictionary, right?

But being headless-chicken-crazy can actually be a good thing. The more you’ve got on – the more you’ll probably get done. Empty days stretched out ahead of you can be a bad thing for productivity, in my opinion.

Looking back on my University days, I often wonder how on earth anyone could have prepared me for the gruelling horrors of ‘life admin’ and ‘time management skills”. How, exactly, are you meant to practice how to ‘manage your time’ when you have SO MUCH OF IT? This was a life learning: I cannot plan my time if I have too much of it. I did nothing at uni. Nothing of substance. I managed to get a good degree by cramming. Late-night cramming – but that’s not a good life skill. Making good use of your time requires actually having things to do, and usually not a great of time to do it in. Only then will you crack this time management and organisation thing. Well, for me anyway.


Most people I meet are usually quite organised. I used to think I was one of those people, mainly because I used to take great joy in selecting a new multi-pack highlighter pens from W H Smith. But alas, drawing pretty flowers on your folders does not equate to being an organised person. 

So, enter the working world where you suddenly have 1000 metaphorical bouncy balls flying at your head from lots of different people and directions? Do you:

A) catch them all in a net and decided what to do with them later?
B) duck and run for cover
C) bat them away one by one
D) bat the easy ones away & put the rest in priority order
E) direct some of the bouncy balls at someone else and share the tasks

The answer should probably be D. And often E.

But what about all the extra stuff you want to do?

Here’s SIX tips for being creative whilst being swamped:

1) Put a pen and notepad in a strange place: I sometimes leave a pen and notepad in the bathroom. When I am brushing my teeth or get out of the shower I often get a lightbulb moment and need to write it down. Beside your pillow is a good one too. ALWAYS carry a pen, you can write it up your arm if you need to. You might think of something GENIUS in your dreams.

2) Let your mind wander while you commute: 10 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour, whatever. Don’t hunch over trying to think of ideas but actually let yourself breathe and let your mind wander. An idea will come when you least expect it. Or by people watching.

3) Maintain the buzz after your working day and quickly put it into something else: If you’ve had a particularly shitty or stressful day, your brain will no doubt be whirring. You might be thinking angry thoughts, or thoughts in quick succession and your overall temperature and movement will be in some way heightened. Don’t lose it! Even if you’re pissed off with someone. Or buzzing or worked up from your tough day, quickly channel it and write, draw, record yourself talking – anything. Put it into something productive that is separate from work and you might surprise yourself with the outcome.

4) Day-dream: If you had to give a Ted Talk what would be on? Or if you met one of your idols would would you ask them? If you could publish an article tomorrow for a magazine what would it be on? Write it anyway.

5) Work out when your ‘magic hour’ is: This is the time your brain comes alive. For me, it’s around 9pm. I am not a morning person. Sunday afternoons work well for me because I start to feel properly relaxed and then ideas come to me. Week day nights I am buzzing. But it’s different for everyone.

6) Recommend someone else: A well-known trait of successful people is they are good at connecting other people together. Grabbing all the opportunities for yourself that you cannot properly commit to can be a bad thing. If someone asks you do sometime and you have ZERO time, don’t say yes because you want the gig or you are worried they won’t ask you again – recommend someone else. They’ll be thankful that you were honest abou your workload and you’ll have helped them out just as much in the long run. They’re are always other opportunities and they’ll remember you for being helpful..

And remember, if anyone ever asks you that annoying question “how do you find the time?” if you have work, projects, hobbies – the question should really be “how do you not?”


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