Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

6 Simple Steps to Getting More Done

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The list of roles I play is long.

  • Husband
  • Father to 4 kids
  • Prospective adoptive parent
  • Orthopedic surgeon with a busy office, surgery and 15 days of call per month
  • Medical missionary
  • Church member who leads a small group and a men’s leadership class
  • Runner who participates in several half-marathons a year
  • Reader who can’t seem to read enough
  • Writer

I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted just reading about all of these responsibilities.

Over the last several years as my workload has increased so has my productivity.

I am often asked, how do you get all of this done? Where do you find the time? What is your secret?

I wish there was a magic pill that gave me more time in the day.. Sorry, but there is no secret. There is no quick fix.

The key ingredient? Work. Elbow grease. Blood, sweat, and tears.

photo by Trey Ratcliff (Creative Commons)

Although hard work is critical, I also learned how to better use my time. Most of us waste several hours a day. These hours add up. Cutting out dead space in your day, can help you maximize your time and productivity.

Here are 6 simple steps to getting more done.

1. Love the Work. I play all of the roles in my list because I love them. When you love the work you do, it changes your entire perspective. The work becomes a priority. Instead of seeing the work as a chore, you see it as an opportunity. Instead of feeling the need to pursue traditional leisure activities, the work you do is reward enough.

2. Early Mornings. The single greatest efficiency tool I have added to my routine is getting up early. I start the day before the day begins. When I get up early and accomplish something, it is amazing how good I feel about the rest of the day. When you love the work you do, getting up early is an opportunity as well.

3. Know Your Priorities. There is something right now that you know you need to do, but feel like you don’t have the time and it is driving you crazy. When we let ourselves do work that is not important, priorities are neglected, and stress builds. By doing what is important we can decrease stress levels. Less stress equals more productivity.

4. Develop a Plan. The law of entropy tells us that the world gravitates toward chaos. Experience shows us it has this same effect on our schedules. Order doesn’t just happen. In order to get more done, you have to plan for it. Try planning out each week on Sunday. A clear plan is the only way to fit in your priorities in a busy schedule.

5. Seek Positive Help. You have friends that inspire you to get more done and live a better story. You also have friends that distract you from doing work that is important. Although there may be a role for these friendships, don’t let their negativity dominate your mindset. Try to focus on the people in your life that encourage you and your work.

6 Know the Value of Your Time. The list of potential distractions is long. The internet. Your smartphone. Facebook. Twitter. Video games. Sports. That really good book. Possibly your family. These distractions steal time away from your important work. View every minute of the day as a valuable opportunity. When you allow distractions to enter your life, you are trading away time that you can never get back. Ask yourself whether or not it is really worth it.

There are only so many minutes in the day, but these steps can help you make every single one of the count.

How do you get more done with your time? Tell us your secret in the comments.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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21 Replies

  1. A big one for me is to create lists and assign priorities.  What are the highest priority items?  These demand more of my attention.  What are the lowest priority items?  Should they even be on my list?  It helps me to see things on paper and to see them checked off when they are complete.

  2. I agree. Evaluating and then writing it down is helpful.

  3. This is a great post Jeremy. What would you recommend if you don’t love a pretty significant portion of the work? 

  4.  Jeremy I truly enjoy your writing! Thanks for this post.

    You know the feeling of knowing what you need to do, but letting that slide… This is a great reminder and a kick in the pants for me.

    I MUST be disciplined to plan out my week on Sunday’s! When I do it makes all the difference.  I too often let apathy and fatigue/laziness from the hustle and bustle of the previous week stand as a mountain I am not willing to climb. I will break this cycle! Thanks for the motivation and encouragement.

  5. Great question, Jim. One that deserves a blog post by itself.

    Two quick ideas. One is that love is a verb. It is not just a feeling you get about something, but certainly to some degree, you can choose to love. A good example is my wife. It is easier for me to naturally love her more than it is for her to love me. Somehow, she still chooses to love me though.
    That being said, there are certainly jobs that are really hard to love. Most jobs, however, have some aspect that you can find to love. I came across a Starbuck barista that loved her job. I doubt she loved the exchanging of money and surly customers (who isn’t surly before they get their coffee?) Instead she seemed to love connecting with every single person that came to the cash register. The job probably sucked, but she saw it as an opportunity. No doubt she is developing skills that will make her more desirable for a better job down the road.
    A historical/biblical example would be Joseph. Certainly he didn’t like being a slave to Potiphar or in prison, but in both settings, he loved the work enough to excel and then eventually the real dream job showed up.
    Hope that helps.

  6. Thanks, Mark. It is hard to plan, especially when you are already tired. Unfortunately not planning leads to more stress and then we feel even worse.

  7. Fantastic response. I really appreciate it. The Joseph reference helps REALLY keep things in perspective, especially since he did absolutely nothing wrong too. 

  8. Right. Joseph focused on what he could influence and control. Eventually God’s promise to him came true, but that process was difficult. Maybe, though, the process was necessary. Maybe he would never have developed the skills to basically run an entire country without the process. It’s incredibly challenging to think about.

  9. Absolutely. This is making me want to dive deeper into the life of Joseph.  Have you ever read any books about him (in addition to the Bible)?

  10. No, but if there isn’t a good one, then somebody should write it. I heard a very good talk by Don Miller at a Catalyst conference, though. Here is a link to download the talk. Unfortunately they ask you to download the entire conference and it costs $49. In addition to the mp3 download there is a DVD option.

  11. Here is a teaser for anyone wanting just a glance into the talk Jeremy talks about above  

  12. Husband, dog-walker, writer. Much shorter list than yours, Jeremy. Point #2 seems to spring directly from Proverbs (it seems I read something about early rising this morning in Proverbs 22). That’s one thing I’ve battled over the years but find extremely helpful now. I’m up a lot earlier on a regular basis than in years past. The sense of accomplishment in me rises before the sun now. I’ve also learned to cherish the quiet, early morning routine.

  13. great post, thanks for the valuable insight!

  14. I’m finding it to be the best part of my day as well.

  15. Husband. Middle/high school teacher. New homeowner. Interesting, as I list my responsibilities here, they are not near as much as yours. Yet, you seem to be way more productive! Thanks for being a role model. I’m bookmarking this blog post as a daily reminder to stay productive!

  16. middle/high school teacher? You are shaping the youth of this country. Teachers are the most undervalued resource in our society. Thanks for what you do and keep up the hard work.

  17. Great post Jeremy!

    As you may know, I’m a big fan of personal productivity. These tips are priceless. 

    No. 5 is my favorite.  I agree 100%:  it’s SO important to surround yourself with positive thoughts, things, and people.  A little bit of encouragement can go a long way.

    With all the roles you play, wow!, a dose of encouragement (and a good multi-vitamin) will keep you going. 

    God bless!

  18. Isn’t it amazing how much encouragment can give you an extra boost.

  19. Irene M. Harvey

    The steps are really helpful. I think this list is arranged in a very right and reasonable way. Thank you for the delight to read this article, it was awesome.
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