Over the years books have been written, blog posts too, all about that mythical “work-life balance” thing, and how one maintains an even keel whilst delivering on ever-growing deadlines and requirements.

How do the most productive people get things done? Well, I think it comes down to some simple, no-nonsense tips which build upon our post about “getting started” from a few weeks back:

Restrict yourself

There are 35 - 40 working hours in a week (unless you’re Mark). Consider reducing that number still further — say to 32, working four eight hour days and then stopping. This really focusses the mind. Funnily enough, when you hurl days, nights and weekends at something, you don’t necessarily get things done any quicker. An hour of laser-sharp focus trumps a day of faffing at the keyboard every time.

Keep it simple

I’ve run a company for a decade now, and since the start have used this baroque piece of accounting software that did everything: payroll, stock… all sorts. Didn’t need 80% of it. Recently I switched to a multi-tab spreadsheet for my accounts instead. Financial stuff gets done in a fraction of the time it took me to plug in my numbers before, and my VAT return details just fall out too: wonderful!

A spreadsheet — no apps, no monthly cloudy subscriptions — just one file for one job.

Plan away from the screen

It’s so easy to sit down at your editor of choice and hack away. Given that many of us are stationery geeks, why not simply grab a favourite pen and notebook, really think about what it is you want to do, and plan. When you reckon you’ve done enough thinking and planning, you probably haven’t. Ponder, gaze out of the window, go for a walk, and after all that write down some more. Then sit at your screen and get your work done.