Sunday, September 2, 2012

Less is more

I get plenty of questions from people about how I get through as much stuff as I do. As a general rule the answer is always to do less. Sounds kind of contradictory doesn’t it? However, there is a big difference between doing something effectively and efficiently. You can do something ineffective very efficiently but guess what? The end result is still going to be ineffective.

In my experience, the secret to being effective is to actually prioritize what needs to be done. Everyone has EXACTLY the same amount of hours in a day so there is use using the excuse you don’t ‘have enough time’, neither does anyone else!

Prioritizing in essence means working what needs to be done in order and starting with the highest priority. There is also a pretty good chance that the stuff of low priority you won’t get to but that isn’t a big deal since it was a low priority right? If you however leave the high priority stuff to last then you will again run out of time but the important stuff won’t get done.

I know there is plenty of stuff that I’d enjoy doing but it isn’t very productive so I have eliminated it as much as I can from my schedule. TV is good example. I watch probably less than 5 hours of commercial TV a week. I used to watch the morning shows over breakfast but I found something of a higher priority to do during that time so I eliminated those morning shows from my schedule. Likewise, I’d love to be able to read the paper everyday but guess what? It doesn’t provide me much benefit. I glance at the headline between things once during the day and that is about it.

Whenever I feel that I am beginning to procrastinating at my desk I will start to clean up. I will clean up my desk and the surrounds, I’ll start cleaning up my digital notes, I’ll start cleaning up my file system and I’ll clean up my emails. Before I know it I have my productivity back and I also have less ‘junk’ floating around and it is much more organized. Again, eliminating and reducing helps get priorities back on track.

In my experience, the first step in really achieving something means doing less of something of lower priority. You simply can’t do it all. A person who generally achieves results, takes the time to prioritize and be effective first.