Lifehacking tips from actress Elizabeth Banks, Judd Apatow, and other accomplished people.

Do things better.
Nov. 2 2009 10:11 AM

Stars! They're Just as Disorganized as Us!

Lifehacking tips from the rich, the famous, and the just plain interesting.

Read more Slate pieces on lifehacking here.

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Robert A.M. Stern, architect

I have no tricks for getting things done: I delegate as much as possible and, when that fails, I just knuckle down and do it.

Patty Stonesifer, chairwoman of the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents

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My most effective tip for getting important things done is deciding what NOT to do so that you have the calendar freedom to focus on the big stuff.

I used to say yes to far too many commitments, which littered my calendar and kept me from giving the big stuff the time it deserved. Really big stuff often has less hour-by-hour schedule urgency but needs dedicated time for focused work, consultation, and study—and that is far more important than the schedule-litter I found I was being driven by.

Why do we say yes to the less important things? A lot of reasons: A colleague asks us, and we hate to be rude; the deadline is several weeks off, and surely by then we'll have spare time. The list goes on.

So I do a short exercise with every request that comes through—I ask myself "If I had to do this today, would I be glad?" For most requests, the answer is no (because I know I should be working on the big stuff), which means I say no to most extraneous requests!