Don’t we all wish that we had more time in the day? More time to get all the things done that we have to do. I wish I had more time, but clearly, we don’t, and we won’t. We are stuck in our 24 hour day.
So, what’s the solution? How do we get more done within the time we have?
There are thousands of articles and blog posts out there with suggestions of how to do more in less time. Lists of 20 ideas to get more done. Or, 10 things to boost productivity. They have simplistic tips like create deadlines, get rid of distractions, block your time, or silence your phone.
They are all nonsense.
When you look at these tricks as a whole none of them address the issue of getting things done, they just try to use some sly mental tricks to try and squeeze out a 1% increase in efficiency.
Secondly, they don’t last. You can always turn your phone back on. And, if you self-impose a deadline there is nothing really holding you accountable. You will always give yourself a free pass.
There are only 2 things that work and both are hard.
Number 1 – Do Less
If you don’t have enough time in the day to get your tasks done then start doing less. You need to get rid of the unimportant in your life. When we really focus on what is important to us AND be honest about it we realize that VERY FEW things are important. There are only a handful of areas that truly impact us, and those around us, in positive and enjoyable ways.
This will not be easy. Being truthful to ourselves is one of the most difficult things to do. But we must be honest. Honestly determine what is important then only do tasks that move us towards those things.
Don’t spend time on things that are not directly pushing you forward towards what’s most important in your life. For me, I chose to focus on my family, my career, personal development/learning, and training for triathlons. I stopped 95% of the other things that I was doing outside of those areas. I used to play basketball. I used to brew beer. I used to hang out with more people.
I loved doing those things, and truly, it hurt to stop. But it was necessary to make the progress in MY most important areas.
I now have so much more time to do less.
Number 2 – Do the worst thing first
Most of us make to-do lists. Everyone gets satisfaction from crossing off the items. It feels good to see that progress on paper. But it is probably false progress. How many of those things are the most important thing we need to do on that list? Just 1.
On every list we make, whether we write it down or just keep it in our heads, there is always a most important task. But we find ourselves not doing that task. We pick around it and do the easy things first. We get to cross of the easy task and feel good about ourselves, but we don’t make any meaningful progress because those tasks are unimportant.
The tasks we should be doing are the ones on the list we don’t want to do. The hardest or most uncomfortable ones are the most important tasks. We avoid them, but we need to attack them first.
This is actually a simple fix, but like I said, not easy. Next time you write your to-do list number the items in order of importance. The hardest, most important, gets a number 1. Then the next hardest/most important get a number 2. Continue until you have numbered them all.
From here you work down the list starting from 1. You move on to number 2 only after number 1 is complete.
It’s simple. It’s hard.
Taking action on these two strategies together is the path to getting more done. You will never find the answer in the easy fixes and hacks that surround us online.
Take action, do less, do the hard things first.
Boom, you just got more done.