3 Crucial Lessons How To Get Stuff Done When Time Is Scarce

It’s been a while since I’ve been to my local coffee shop. The seat where I sit in the window looking out at the sea, I believe has missed me as much as I have missed it. I love coming here, calming music sets the scene looking out at a calm Irish Sea. My husband who is from South Africa still calls it a lake, it never ceases to amaze him how a sea can be so calm, without waves. I love coming here. It grounds me. It gives me time to catch up with my article writing.

Ah here it comes I can smell the cinnamon coming up the stairs, my chai latte. No other drink has the same impact on me, a healing drink for the soul.

Why has it been so long since I sat here? I started a new contract. A few weeks ago I started to leave the house at the same time every morning, long hours, long days. The time comes to stress test my systems, but what I have found is that I seem to be getting more done.

Here are my lessons learnt (once again !)


Since I started the new contract I’ve reduced my interaction on social media in fact I’m doing it more effectively and achieving more with the time I invest. I am using small gaps in my day to comment, post or tweet. Previously I would allocate an hour to do this and may end up spending a whole lot more time than intended. As a blogger it is part of the job to market yourself online, I am much more careful about making sure I am benefiting from the time invested.

Lesson Learnt:

Take control of your social media usage. Fit social media in around you day, tweet while waiting on the bus, post on Facebook at break time, whatever sites you use, whatever strategy you need to employ make sure it is not all that you do in the day.


Lots of people ask me how I found the time to write Chaos to Control. The year I wrote it I was working full time, lecturing one night a week and also seeing private clients. That year I was very focused, I didn’t waste time on anything else, the book was my priority. Now that I am busy again, the same thing applies I have started to focus on what matters as I wrote this week in my lifehack article, “You can do anything but not everything”. Now that my time has become more limited again I am finishing up on projects that have been hanging around for a long time. (Not that I have ever been guilty of procrastination!)

Lesson Learnt:

Focus on the things that matter, don’t waste precious time on things that won’t help you achieve your goals and dreams


When I get busy I can also get stressed, stress for me leads to forgetfulness and disorganization. Not having enough time to keep things in order. The house gets messy, the paperwork piles up. The little chores and tasks sit on the To Do list for far too long. Completing a weekly review prevents this from continuing. I collect everything I need to do in one place and process it, entering what needs to get done into my calendar or Evernote. The mind dump helps clear the mind, and prevent the amnesia from affecting my everyday life. The other thing that helps me to manage my stress is meditation, I haven’t been meditating. I have signed up for Deepak Chopras 21 day meditation challenge where you receive an email everyday with a beautiful guided meditation, well worth doing and a fantastic way to create a new habit. The meditations are available to buy after the challenge is complete

Lesson Learnt:

Stick to the systems that work, I use GTD, Evernote, a weekly review, a weekly mind dump and I get my inbox to zero as often as possible. Meditation is also my way to manage stress.

Be Present

In all the hustle bustle of daily work it’s easy to get caught up with all work and no play, too much planning, organisation and routine. All of that will help reduce your stress but it is also necessary to create space in your schedule for nature, for being mindful and for spending time with the people you love. These are the things that will rejuvenate you and help you to keep going in this world that spins faster every day. The trick is to walk slowly in the same direction and no longer run to try and catch up.

Have a great day

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Comments (18)

Your coffee shop sounds delightful, Ciara! Thank you for these great tips. What a fabulous idea to fit social media into those smaller gaps – it so easily can be such a time guzzler.

I love your idea of the weekly review and meditation makes everything flow so much easier!

Thanks Claire, you will be pleased to know I got up on time this morning to fit in my morning meditation. Back on track 🙂

HI Ciara,

I have a coffee shop I love to go to as well. But it doesn’t have a view of sea/lake! Still, I love to get out of the house, smell the lovely baked goods in the shop, and absorb the energy of those around me.

Thanks for sharing these important lessons.

You can’t beat the energy of a good coffee shop. Must visit the one Harry Potter was written in someday!

Being present, in the moment, is one of the greatest gifts a person can give themself. Whether it’s eliminating, prioritizing, or creating repeatable processes that work for you, I feel they should be pursued to help you be in the moment.
We don’t live in the past or the future but sometimes it feels like we do.
Thanks for the tactics to be more present during my day. I’m feeling the impact right now.

I love the sound of your coffee shop too. 🙂 I can’t remember the last time I sat down and wrote at mine, though it’s something I love so much…I think I’ll have to carve out some time for that soon. Great lessons, Ciara. I did that meditation challenge too – great, wasn’t it?!

Sea that looks like a lake….I would like to see it!

You are right. These are crucial lessons. These are precisely the kind of lessons that we learn from experience and then often forget because we slip off, until we are reminded again because chaos is unmanageable.

Ciara – I love your last ‘Be Present’ section. It’s so easy to let work control us instead of us deciding what we do when and why.
I’m going to try some ‘slow walking’ today and see if I achieve more.

You always tell it so clearly & succinctly Ciara. I’m continually amazed at how you manage such efficiency when your life is at least twice as busy as mine. Every time I read an article I get inspired once again to get all these notes organized! Great stuff, as usual.

“You can do anything but not everything”. I love this quote!

I know I’ve read this post before and wonder what happened to my comment! Maybe my computer didn’t send it in correctly?

I was saying… something about having no appropriate coffee house for writing in this little forest town, but a trip to park next to the river is very relaxing, plus I can use the back of my van for a workspace.

Sometimes a change of scenery is very motivating for getting work done happily!

First – thank you for the evernote recommendation! I’m still getting the hang of it, but it’s definitely better than my scattered all over the place, half deleted, half wtf is going on notepad todo lists.

You just gave me a great idea. I know that I’m productive at my coffee shop and library (mainly because I don’t have a laptop), but I only go once a week, with my writers group. I never thought of making it a daily habit, like you seem to have. Let’s try it out for a week.

Glad to be of service Amit – I hope it works, I’m afraid I only get there once a week but its my day for writing and disconnecting from the din of civilization!

You must come visit the lake Dolly, it’s stillness can calm any chaos!

Eliminating works best for me. I’ve been using the 80/20 rule [ http://www.financereference.com/learn/pareto-principle ] and it’s been very effective! It’s best to dial in on the necessary.

I agree Leanna, the Pareto Principle is a must, focus on what matters and eliminate the rest.

Hi Ciara,

I love the title of your book…I use it so often with regards to my own life.
I am now trying to accept that I cant always have control over the chaos
but I try.

Keep going


Yes Anne its true most of the time we cannot control what comes at us but we can chose how we react.

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