There Are Only Three Ways to Get More Done
Pressure to put more in your cup – when your cup already overflows – stresses you out and drains your energy.
The cycle of death:
Work hard – Succeed – Get more to do – WORK HARDER – and so on.
Practically speaking, there are only three ways to get more done.
- Improve proficiency. Shorten the time it takes to do your work through mastery, systems, or software. Proficiency enables you to do in hours what took days in the past.
- Eliminate less meaningful work. Stop doing things that matter less so you can focus on things matter more. Pour something out of your cup.
- Give work away. Get someone else to do some of your work. Take something out of your cup and give it to a competent other.
Improve proficiency – make better lists:
People who get things done make lists.
Automatically prioritize your list WHILE you make it. Divide your list into three columns.
- Must do today.
*Always include the ‘next action needed’ to every item on your Must Do Today list.
Never put anything on Today’s To-Do List if you don’t know what to do next. Uncertainty drains your energy and wastes your time.
What if you’re unsure of the next step? Your action item might be, “Ask Betty for suggestions of what to do next.”
The purpose of recording the next action step is to free your mind and lower your stress.
Productivity tip: REST
The purpose of rest is restoration so you can work. Hard work makes life meaningful. A life of all leisure is boring. But the cycle of constantly working harder destroys you.
How might leaders get more done and enjoy life more?
*The idea of adding the next action item to things on your list comes from, Making It All Work by David Allen.
Over the years, the key for me has been to “Prioritize”, because it works!
If I’m getting overwhelmed I step and take a breath and say to myself “I can do this”, I start with small pieces like building a puzzle and assemble what needs done, then shift gears and move on.
When you become stressed out, you need to manage it, do the walks , do the things that bring you down, just like “time management” , you have to develop “self management” may require some regimentation but it’s all do able if you believe in yourself and your capabilities.
“Build yourself so you can build others” , by example!
Thanks Tim. I couldn’t help but think of “how to eat an elephant” when I read your first paragraph. The simplest things often have the most usefulness.
I’ve seen complex systems for managing your day. But no one does them for long. They’re too hard and take too long.
Exactly “we make it complex”, we can also make it simple. 🙂
Too true, the old “keep it simple” method usually works if you want to change habits.
I find prioritising assists but you can still get overwhelmed unless you also filter out the things you must do from the things you can get others to do. No need to be a martyr.
Trust me, I’m no martyr, I do delegate as well, comes down to planning and determining what works best? The alternative is “too many irons in the fire” or “too many hands in the kettle” do what works best for you!
Interesting post. I also have found that “saying no” to areas that are not a critical part of the mission of the organization is also important. Sometimes organizations get involved in “mission creep” which can interfere in their effectiveness and efficiency. And yes, prioritizing is critical!
One challenge I face with establishing priorities is someone above me overrides my priorities with theirs. This creates a conflict as they “delegate” to solve their problems or workload but compounds my already prioritized work.
I love the next step idea. It allows me to think a bit ahead and get a start through prioritization.
I love this insight because it rang so true for me. “Uncertainty drains your energy and wastes your time.” So true that I realized I’m going to implement your list and add that “Next step” even if it is asking someone what they think should be the next step. Plan your work and work your plan.
Great post again, Dan! Connie, I like your Plan your work and work your plan! You both are so right about next steps and uncertainty. Through the years, I’ve learned from associates at workplaces and combined some of the tips. My current supervisor lists 3 of the most important things to do today, so as not to be overwhelmed with long lists (which I used unsuccessfully!). She may even hand write the list and then crosses out each item as it’s completed. From my years in advertising and weekly staff project updates, I learned that the “next step” or “action step” is essential to avoid uncertainty. Who will perform the next step and what’s the deadline? Otherwise, we just list our to-dos with no “due by” dates or follow-up.
Sometimes organisations have outdated systems in place making work tedious and unproductive. Implementing new ideas and creating more efficient systems can make work quicker, meaningful, less stressful and more productive.