We only have 24 hours a day. And no matter how much you try to cram everything into your day, there are only so much you can do. We’re constantly being distracted and there are more things trying to grab our attention than ever.
But why and how do some people seem to be able to handle it all? Successful people seem to be able to get more done by doing less, so how do they do it?
This is what you’re going to discover in this article.
No matter whom you are, be it whether you’re a teacher or a blogger, a work at home mom or an engineer, if you want to be more productive and get more done, you must learn the art of doing less, not more.
When it comes to productivity, it is not about doing more or spending more time into your work, it is about doing work that truly matters. It is about doing the high-impact work that gives you better results.
Successful people understand this. They know that if they want to get more done, they need to focus on doing the important, not just everything.
I like how Tim Ferriss, the famous author of The 4-Hour Workweek puts it:
“If you don’t have time, the truth is, you don’t have priorities. Think harder, don’t work harder.”
When you seem like you have too many things to do that you can’t handle it, it is because you don’t have priorities.
You react and do whatever that comes to you without really prioritizing the tasks.
So how can you achieve more by doing less? Here are the 7 methods:
1. List Down What You Need to Get Done
“Clarity is power,” says Tony Robbins. And he is absolutely right. Try to go through your day without knowing what you need to do, guess what will you do? Everything.
If you have no plan for the day, you will become reactive and do whatever that comes to your mind.
This is one of the biggest mistakes that most people repeat in their workday. They don’t have a to-do list.
Most people understand that they need a to-do list, but they just don’t do it. They don’t list down the tasks that they need to get done.
They think that writing down their tasks is inconvenient and they can keep their plans in their head. Big mistake.
I have personally tried this. Whenever I put down my tasks in my to-do list, I found that I’m more likely to accomplish the tasks by the end of the day.
And whenever I go through my day without knowing what to do or without having a clear plan, usually, I end up being less productive.
Thus, create clarity for yourself and list down the things that you need to do.
You can’t just rely on your memory to remind yourself to do what you need to get done. You need to put things into paper and write them down.
Read this guide and learn how you can craft your own personalize to-do list:
2. Prioritize and Do the High-Impact Task First
Once you have your to-do list, don’t just jump on the first task and do it right away. Instead, spend a few minutes to prioritize the list.
You have to focus on doing the most important work that will give you the highest impact first.
Don’t just do things blindly just because you need to get them done.
Always remember this wise saying from Mark Twain:
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
One of the most important principles to productivity is none other than the Pareto’s Principle, which also known as the 80/20 Rule.
According to the principle, of all the tasks that you need to get done, 20% of them will give you 80% of results. And these are the tasks that you should work on first.
Let me give you an example. As a blogger, there are a few things that I do each day:
- Check and reply emails
- Write and publish a blog post
- Update social media
- Contact James for a new website logo
- Check website analytics and stats
From the tasks above, you have to prioritize them and do the most important one first. And in this example, I will write and publish a blog post first.
This is because of all the tasks above, publishing new content is the most important. While the rest, check and reply emails, update social media, new website logo and check analytics may sound important, but they’re really not.
These are the 80% work that only gives you 20% result.
I’m not saying that you should ignore or not do them, but you should focus and do the important one first – the 20%.
And this is how you can achieve more by doing less.
Extraordinary people like Steve Jobs understands the importance of doing high-impact tasks first. And that’s the first thing that they did. And that’s how they get the most result.
Therefore, do high-impact work first. Don’t just start your day blindly, spend your most productive hours, usually your mornings, to accomplish your most important work.
3. Reject and Say “No” Strategically
If you want to get more done, you must learn to reject others and say “no” to them strategically.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs
Focus is about saying no. You must say no to good ideas if you want to focus on the great one.
You can’t do whatever that comes to you. You have only 24 hours a day and there is only so much you can accomplish.
Hence, learn to reject other good ideas because you want to nurture the great idea.
Learn to say no to other things that are going to take away your attention and distract you from your goal.
If you want to learn to say no strategically, read this article from Inc.com:
4. Don’t Over Expect Your Ability
Here’s the thing that prevents you from achieving more by doing less – overestimating your ability.
If your to-do list has over 10 tasks, you’re overestimating yourself. Even if you think that you’re not, you’re trying to do too much and that means focusing on everything, not the vital few.
When it comes to getting things done, most people are motivated and they often overestimated their ability and the time that have.
They think that they can do everything and they can do it all. But this is often far from the truth.
Our willpower, energy, and motivation go down as we go through the day. It gets harder to focus on and accomplish tasks.
This is why if you have a long list of tasks, you just can’t finish them all. A long to-do list makes you feel overwhelmed and tired. You’ll feel like you have so many things to do and so less time to enjoy.
Plus, you don’t have to do everything by yourself. You don’t have to put everything on your shoulder.
So don’t over expect yourself and think that you’re superman and you can accomplish all your tasks.
5. Leverage on Other People
To achieve more by doing less, you must leverage on other people. You must hire the talents and skills that you lack. You can’t do everything on your own.
I’m not a web designer and I don’t know how to create a website logo. I can learn, but I’d rather hire professionals to do it.
This saves me a lot of time and so I can focus on doing the important task, which is to publish content.
If you think that you can do much better than other people, there is no way you can grow. Why do you think people start a company? Well, they want to grow their business by hiring others.
When Walt Disney started, he started with his brother, Roy Disney, who managed the finances of the company.
Steve Jobs did not start Apple by himself. He started with a bunch of good friends. He leveraged on Steve Wozniak’s skills to build the first Apple computer.
And this is what you need to do to achieve more as well.
Another good example is listing a company public. Businesses need capital for growth. And one way they can get a large sum of capital is by listing their company so that the public can buy the stocks and in return, get a percentage of the company’s share.
When you have the right leverage, you can accomplish more and go further.
6. Recharge Yourself Through Taking Breaks
If you are serious about achieving more, take more breaks. A lot of people have the wrong perception to think that they can only achieve more by working non-stop without breaks.
This is not true. Taking regular breaks throughout the day is important. Read my previous article:
You see, your energy and willpower work like your phone’s battery bar. You charge your phone every day and whenever the battery is low, right? Why don’t you charge yourself too?
Taking breaks is important because it refreshes you and recharges your energy so that you can do more.
After a short break, you will have better emotional health, you feel fresher, less stress, higher creativity, and also improved productivity.
Thus, take short breaks regularly throughout your day. You can follow the Pomodoro Technique if you want to.
7. Make Good Use of Your Uninterrupted Time
Want to get accomplish more by doing less, you have to make good use of your uninterrupted time. And usually, this is in the morning.
Haruki Murakami, the famous Japanese writer says that when he’s in the writing mode for a novel, he’d wake up at 4AM and start writing for 5 to 6 hours straight.
The same goes for Ernest Hemingway. In an article, Hemingway said, “When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.”
If you want to get things done, you must use your uninterrupted time for it.
In the morning, when everyone is still sleeping, there are no distractions. So get up early and work on your high-impact tasks.
This way, you can also get a headstart than most people. When people are still sleeping soundly on their bed, you are out there working on your dreams. This is how you can get ahead of them faster.
The key is to use your uninterrupted time wisely.
If you can’t work at home because you have children and the TV is always on, try to get all your work done in the office before you get back home.
And if you can’t focus in the office because your colleagues are constantly distracting you, lock yourself in a room or take your laptop and work somewhere else.
Create a bunker to shelter yourself from distractions so that you can work with 100% concentration.
To help you create uninterrupted time, use time blocking. It is a powerful method of how you can get rid of distractions and get things done.
If you want to produce more results and achieve greater success in life and at work, you must learn to leverage on other people’s resources and do things that give you the most result.
You can’t do whatever work that comes to you. You must be selective and focus on the vital few.
This is how you can achieve more by doing less. Follow the 7 methods above and get more done today.