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"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
- Proverbs 3:5-6
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Five Ways to Know When You’re Done with What You’re Doing
The curse for many modern-day movers and shakers is that they never seem to have enough time to do everything that needs doing. There simply are not enough hours in the workday, or even the workweek, to accomplish everything on their to-do lists. Worse yet, once on a productivity roll, there always seems to be a distraction waiting to throw you off course. The reality is that you could actually accomplish a lot more each day if you just learn to recognize and acknowledge when you are done with what you are doing.

One of the biggest time wasters is spending too much time on those things that do not require it. In doing so, time is lost that should be spent on more difficult or time-intensive tasks. When you learn to recognize when you are done with a task, you will have valuable minutes and maybe even hours added back into your day.

How to know you are done:

Stop majoring in the minors

Many people spend a lot of time on projects and tasks that are easy. Then, they convince themselves that they “just did not have enough time” to get to the harder tasks. Before you start your workday, think about your high and low leverage activities. For the low leverage activities, force yourself to move through them as quickly as possible. With these tasks, perfection is not necessary.

Don’t overwrite emails

Make a conscious effort to keep emails short and sweet. Get to the point quickly and use action verbs in subject lines so that both you and the recipient know what needs to happen before the email is even opened.

Quit over-staying at meetings and on conference calls

Set an hour for a meeting and you are sure to go the full hour. Pay close attention to how much of your meeting is actually spent focused on the important things. If you spend 15 to 20 minutes at the beginning or end of the meeting discussing your coworker’s golf game, then next time reduce the amount of time allotted.

Set your own deadlines and stick to them

It is very easy to be distracted or sidetracked by things you think you, or others, should do. Having a self-imposed deadline will help you ignore those distractions.

Know when it’s time to ask for help

Sometimes knowing when you are done is knowing when you, specifically, cannot take a project any further. You simply might not have the right expertise to completely finish a certain project, and that is okay. Wasting time is much worse than asking for help!

When you put in place steps to help you know when you are done, you will be surprised, and pleased, with how much you can get done. It will free up time that you can use to focus on areas where it is really needed. As a result, you will have a more gratifying workday and be happier overall.

By Jason Womack, author of "Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More"