How to Get More Time for What Really Matters

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Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, yet some seem to get more done in the same time. How? The place to start is to figure out how you currently spend your time.

Maybe “spend” isn’t the right way to describe what you do with all your time. There are actually three things we can do with time at any moment. We can spend it, waste it, or invest it.

Are you investing most of your time? Are you using it wisely for what you want to become and do? Let’s find out.

Here’s how: Keep a log of how you spend your time for one full week.

Greg, you’re killing me! We’re talking about how little time we have and you want me to spend some of it logging how I spend what little time I have?

Yes! Trust me a little. You will be shocked at what you are spending something more valuable than money on.

Write down how you spend every minute of the day — everything. Sleeping, getting ready for work, commute time, work time, (what you’re doing during work time), lunch, dinner, family time, television, email, web surfing, social media, golf, workouts, going out with friends, church, phone calls, texting, etc. I know it can be tiresome to do this, but we’re only doing it for one week to see where your time goes.

Time sucks:

  • TV – Americans watch an average of four hours of TV a day. Don’t channel surf. Plan the few shows you actually want to watch. Or, just don’t watch it at all.
  • Internet – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. How many funny cat videos do you need to watch? Do you really need to see what your “friend” had for lunch? Schedule your Internet time and set a timer when you log on.
  • Email – Everything doesn’t have to be responded to the second you receive it. This can distract you from your important focus and turn your day into a series of reactions. Make a decision how many times a day you’re going to check email and stick to it. I only check emails twice a day. Here’s what I have in the signature of my email: In order to be as efficient and effective as possible, I only check my email before 9:30am and after 4pm. If there is an emergency this policy doesn’t take care of, you may call me.
  • Texting – This can be a great communication tool, or it can be abused. I know some people who literally spend three to four hours a day texting. Is that the best use of their time?

You might be surprised what your time sucks are. Use your time log and see where you can trim them back to give yourself more time.

Action steps:

1) Plan your time. There’s nothing wrong with chilling out. But, when you need to unwind, actively choose the best way for you to do that. Don’t default into channel surfing or playing on the computer because it’s the easiest thing to do. Choose the TV shows you really want to watch, and then turn it off. Choose the websites you truly enjoy reading, and then go do something else. Live purposefully.

2) Stay focused. When you’re working on something, work on that and only that. Turn off all potential distractions. Work for 50 minutes at a time on that one thing without interruption. Take a five-minute break and jump back in.

Question for comments: What did you find were your biggest time sucks? What techniques do you have to get the most out of the time you have?

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

You Can Now Watch My Free Webinar Right Here and Share it With Friends.

lucy

I know you’re busy and it’s hard to schedule your day to attend a webinar. Many of you have asked me if I would post my latest one. Well, here you go. I hope you enjoy it and share it with anyone who will benefit from it.

At the end, I give you all the details on my latest online coaching course and my personal coaching programs.

Here’s a preview of what the Webinar is about:

Most people never find their true calling. Fewer still ever pursue it with success to live the extraordinary life of their dreams.

I don’t say this to dash your hopes. I say it to warn you and to offer some free training so you don’t fail.

I show you:

  • How to overcome the 6 obstacles that stop you from taking action to change your life
  • How to find your calling
  • How to create the mindset you must have to get the life you want
  • How to focus on what’s essential
  • How to stay motivated to make lasting change

Join Premium Personal Coaching with Greg Knapp

Join Value Personal Coaching

Buy the 40 Day Ecoaching Course

Let’s GO!

6 Steps to the Perfect, Productive Day – Everyday

 

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Do you feel overwhelmed with too much to do in your day? Do you have such a long list there is no way it’s all getting done? No matter how much you accomplish, do you feel a little bit like a failure because there’s still so much you didn’t do?

Do you just feel like you don’t have all your ducks in a row?

I know I feel like this sometimes. It’s been getting me down.

I’m putting everything I have into my business and I’ve been going a little crazy. I want to create more content for helping people and organizations pursue their Passionate Purpose. Here are some of the ideas I’m working on:

  • Create a 40 day email course – 40 Days to Finding and Pursuing Your Passionate Purpose – in written, audio, and video form
  • Film an online video course for individuals and businesses
  • Book more speaking engagements at seminars, conventions, colleges, and churches
  • Expand my personal coaching
  • Create a 365 day email encouragement program
  • Write an eBook of my most uplifting quotes
  • Write another book with new ideas, stories, and humor to help people take the next step in their journey
  • Develop an Internet marketing plan to promote my products
  • Increase my audience and email list subscribers
  • Do the research to make all of these things happen

Just writing all that down got me feeling overwhelmed again. The good news is it also got me super excited again. I love the idea that all my products will help people.

I’ve tried a lot of productivity systems. Some of them were so complicated and so much work that they just didn’t do it for me. I’ve devised a very simple, easy to implement system, that has led me to producing more meaningful work than at any other time in my life.

If you give these steps a try for a week, I bet you never go back to the old way. (Actually, even when you see how well it works for you, there will probably be times you backslide. It happens to all of us. Don’t give up. Give yourself some grace, and get back to doing what you know works for you.)

First, we need to challenge the idea that to be productive means doing everything as fast as possible and being accessible to everyone who needs us.

Ask yourself, are you trying to take on everything to please everyone and not doing your best work, or are you choosing the essential projects where your best effort makes a difference? Which would you rather do?

Step 1) Write it all down the night before. (I know you’ve heard this before, but stick with me.The way we’re going to do it, this will have you starting your days focused and excited.)

Pick a time every evening where you will spend 10-15 minutes planning the next day.  Make a list of everything you want to do tomorrow.

Step 2) Focus on what’s vital and acknowledge there will be tradeoffs.

Prioritize the tasks you want to do tomorrow. Look at your list and ask, what is the most important thing to do today that is in line with your Passionate Purpose? That will be task #1. Ask that question again to find task #2, and so on until you’ve completed the list.

“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
–Gary Keller from The ONE Thing

Focusing on your most important thing is the key to a productive, rewarding day.

If you start to feel overwhelmed at anytime during the day, go back to your list and stay true. Or ask yourself anew, what’s the most important thing for me to do right now?

Step 3) Estimate how long each task will take. (This is what will keep you from setting yourself up for failure and over scheduling your day.)

Start with your most important task and estimate how long you think it will take to complete. Write that down next to the task. Do that for every task you listed. Add in 5-10 minute breaks every hour to refresh your mind and body. Schedule in two 30 minute blocks for something I’ll explain later.

When your time estimates equal an entire working day, you’re done. If you still have more things on your list, but no time left to do them, they must be put on the next day’s list. You must get clear on the fact that tradeoffs are necessary. That’s why we prioritized everything, remember? Don’t over schedule.

Step 4) Start your day in Concentrated Focus Time doing your most important thing.

Now it’s time to reap the rewards from last night’s planning. Start your day with two hours of Concentrated Focus Time. During this time you will only work on your most important task. You will need to explain this to your coworkers so they can support you in this. When they see how much more you’re getting done, you might even find some of them want to start doing it as well.

Start with 2 hours a day. Over time, you can expand it to 4 hours and then even 6 hours of your day. (Using this method you’ll do more in 6 hours than most people do in 8-1o hours.)

During these 2 hours there are no interruptions.

  • Close your door if you have one.
  • Put a “Deep in Concentrated Focus time” Post-it note up.
  • Close all email programs.
  • Mute all chimes, ringers, and pings.
  • Turn off visual alerts and social media messaging.
  • During your concentrated focus time this is all you do.
  • Nothing else is allowed to take up your focus and time.

Set a timer for one hour. Do nothing else except your most important thing. Then take a break to stretch, walk around the building or up and down the stairs, just clear your mind and think for 5-10 minutes. Then repeat the process. Do it for at least 2 hours of each morning.

As you complete your most important thing, move on to what next becomes your most important thing.

Step 5) Cluster your less important things, that still need to be done, to two times a day.

It would be great if you could just focus on your most important thing all day long. The reality is that we do have some other things we need to do each day as well. Remember how I had you schedule in two 30 minute blocks of time into your day? We are going to use those blocks to cluster some daily tasks.

Take your simple tasks and do them all at the same time instead of allowing them to constantly interrupt your day. I do this with email, snail mail, voice mail, and more.

What can you cluster during your day to prevent constant interruptions to your flow?

Schedule two times a day to handle these and don’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time doing these.

Step 6) Do NOT start your day with email. (This is really part of step 5, but it’s so important I made it another step.)

You spent last night getting ready for today. You are ready to hit the ground running, working on your most important thing. You fire up the laptop, open your email program and…two hours later you still haven’t started on your most important thing. You just gave every one else the power to run your day and distract you from your most important thing. Why?

Instead, let everyone in your company know you are changing the way you handle your email. Set up an auto response, and the signature of your email, to say something like this:

In order to be as effective and efficient as possible, I only answer my email twice a day – after 10:30am and 4:45pm. If there is an emergency, you may call me.

In very special circumstances, you may need to check your email 3 times a day. But if you’re telling me there is no way this will work for you, I have a question:

If you check your email three times a day, are you really telling me your customers and coworkers must have you returning emails more often than every three hours?

If that’s true, what can you do to change that? What training can you do for your co-workers? How can you delegate more and allow your coworkers to work more independently so they can get more done? What expectations can you set up with your customers so they understand what better quality – and quantity – of work for them you can get done when you focus instead of being tied to your email?

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Workin’ Hard Getting Nothing Done

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We all work hard and it seems like there’s always more work to be done. My last two posts were on 7 Steps to Having More Time. (Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2)

I’ve noticed something about myself and I’m wondering if it’s the same for you. When I plan out my day to focus on my most important thing and stick to the plan I get a ton done.

“Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?'”
— Marcus Aurelius

When I just have an idea of what I’m going to do, I don’t get as much done. Yet, I still feel like I worked just as hard. How does that happen?

This morning I realized how it happens for me.

I work from home in the mornings and I had great plans on important things to do. But, first I decided I needed to merge my domain email with my Gmail account — 40 minutes gone. Next, I decided I needed to upload the video of my daughter’s performance with the Starlight Stars. My phone didn’t sync with my Mac, so I had to download a program – 30 minutes gone.

Then I noticed a few hundred photos on my phone that were taking up space so I decided I needed to upload select photos from my phone to my Mac – another 20 minutes gone.

And so it went:

Send YouTube video I created to a contact (and watch some of my old ones) – 30 minutes

Check and reply to FB messages and notifications – 10 minutes

Check my LinkedIn account and reply to messages – 10 minutes

Renew my library books online – 5 minutes

I finally shook myself and realized that although I felt like I was working I had spent almost 2 hours doing absolutely no work on my most important thing. Not good.

I hadn’t planned well, and I wasn’t even sticking to my not so great plan. It wasn’t that the things I was doing were bad, it’s just that they were taking me away from the more productive things I really wanted to get done.

Focus, Grasshopper, focus.

At the end of the day we’re usually tired. If we’ve run around all day chasing our tail, putting out fires and just doing “work” we will experience an empty, dissatisfied, frustrated kind of tired.

If we focus on what’s essential and make great progress on that, we will experience a job well done, life is good, now I’ve earned some relaxation time kind of tired.

Questions for comments: How do you stay focused on your plan?

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

7 Steps to Having More Time (Part 2, with link to Part 1)

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Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, yet some seem to get more done in the same time. How? My last post was part 1 of 7 Steps to Having More Time. It covered the first 4 steps. Don’t miss them. Today we’ll cover steps 5-8 (But you said there were only 7 steps. Bonus step!)

“It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”-Thoreau

Step 5) Delegate:

Check your list of how you are currently spending your time again and look for the tasks that need to get done that you either don’t like to do, you aren’t good at doing, or just aren’t the best use of your time. How many of these tasks could you delegate to someone else?

Almost all of us could delegate more. Why don’t we? Is it because we think no one can do it as well as we can? Sometimes, that’s true. But, often that’s because we don’t invest the time to train someone to do it the way we want it done.

Have you ever tried to delegate something, spent a couple of minutes explaining what you want and then gotten upset when the results weren’t what you were hoping for? Well, you need to take responsibility for that. If you spend the time necessary to explain and train them so they are able to do the task better than you can (yes, I said better than you can – it’s possible) you will save so much more time from that point on. It’s an investment and it’s worth it.

You also have to let go of the idea that the way you do it is the only “right” way to do it. As long as the job gets done well, who cares if a different way was used to get there?

Another reason we don’t delegate as much as we should is we don’t have the staff to handle it.

Here are a couple options: If you work for someone else, go to your boss and explain how much more productive and profitable you can be for the company if she could help you delegate these tasks to someone better fitted for them. Offer to do this on a trial basis so she can see how much more productive you will be on the things that matter most. Once you prove yourself, she will have no problem letting you delegate more.

If you’re self-employed, why not outsource like the big boys do? There are a ton of outsourcing companies in and out of the United States that can do virtually anything you need done. I listed several of these in a previous post. I’ve used outsourcing for many different tasks and have been very pleased with the cost, quality, and speed of the work. I recommend using a company with many employees rather than one person. That way, if one person quits, gets fired, is on vacation, etc. your work still gets done.

Step 6) Negotiate:

If an offer, opportunity or request comes your way that doesn’t fit your strengths or the best use of your time, don’t immediately say yes to it. Take a little time and figure out the best way to handle it.

Could you simply say no?

Could you explain what part you could do really well and why you think Susan or Bob would be perfect to handle the other part of it?

Could you take on a different project in exchange for the one that doesn’t fit you?

When you explain how this negotiation will help everyone, you will be surprised how often your counteroffer is accepted.

[Tweet “You have all the time you need to do what you were born to do. Don’t waste it.” ]

Step 7) Spend 80% of your time doing what you do best and what you love to do.

Congratulations. You have cleared away so much from your life that you don’t really need to do. You still have the same 24 hours in every day, but now you have much more control over how you will use them. You can focus on what you do and like best.

Here’s a great way to plan out each workday:

In the evening prepare for your next day. Ask yourself: What is the most important thing that if you got it done tomorrow would make the biggest difference to your business? Decide on it.

Getting this one thing done would make your day a success. That’s what we’re looking for here. IF you finish that, what is the next most important thing you will get done? IF you finish that, what is the next most important thing you will get done?

The next day:

  • Do your most important thing until it’s done. I know sometimes “things come up.” But you need to schedule time for your most important activities or something will always “come up.” At the minimum, work on this task for one hour. Then take a break for anything that requires your attention. Then repeat the process.
  • If time remains, do the next thing on your list.

Step 8) Celebrate a great day!

Go for a walk with your spouse. Read a book to your kids. Go out for dinner. Eat some boiled peanuts and watch a martial arts movie. (Wait, that’s just what I like to do. Sorry.)

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

7 Steps to Having More Time

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Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, yet some seem to get more done in the same time. How? The place to start is to figure out how you currently spend your time. And that is the precise way to talk about time. We spend it.

Time is money.
–Benjamin Franklin

I agree with Franklin to a point.

But, Greg, you said you were going to give me steps to have more time. Now you’re telling me you can’t make time. Come on!

We can’t make time, but we can spend it wisely and free up our time for what’s most important. That’s what we’re going to do.

But, before you spend time being efficient, make sure you’re being effective – at what’s important to you. Are you spending most of your time on what you want to become and do? Let’s find out.

Step 1) Keep a log of how you spend your work and leisure time for one full week.

Greg, you’re killing me! We’re talking about how little time we have and you want me to use some of it logging how I spend it?

Yes! Trust me a little. You will be shocked at some of the things you are spending your time on.

Write down how you spend every minute of the day — everything — sleeping, getting ready for work, commute time, how much time you spend on different tasks at work, (including talking with colleagues, water cooler, etc.) lunch, dinner, family time, television, email, web surfing, social media, golf, workouts, going out with friends, church, phone calls, etc. I know it can be tiresome to do this, but we’re only doing it for one week to see where your time goes.

At the end of the week, review your list. Which activities on your list do you like doing? Which ones do you dislike doing? Which ones are you really good at? Which ones are a struggle for you?

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24 hr. days.
–Z.Ziglar

Step 2) Avoid Time Sucks

Take a look at your list. What are you doing that is truly a waste of time? We all need to relax and recharge, but are you doing it purposefully? Be strategic in your choices and look at all the extra time you will have to do the things that really matter to you.

Time Sucks:

  • TV – Americans watch an average of four hours of TV a day. Don’t channel surf. Plan the few shows you actually want to watch. Don’t just chill and watch Netflix, search for a specific movie or show to watch once or twice a week. Or, just don’t watch it at all. (I know it sounds crazy, but if you try it for a week, you will be shocked at how much time is freed up for better things.)
  • Internet – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. How many funny cat videos do you need to watch? Do you really need to see what your “friend” had for lunch? Schedule your Internet time and set a timer when you log on.
  • Email – Everything doesn’t have to be responded to the second you receive it. This can distract you from your important focus and turn your day into a series of reactions. What if you made this the signature of your email? “In order to be as efficient as possible, I only check my email at 11:00am and at 4:30pm. If there is an emergency this policy doesn’t take care of, you may call me.” (Some of you are saying, No way can I only answer email twice a day! Maybe, maybe not. Send out an all staff email explaining why you are doing it. Try it for 2 weeks. If it really doesn’t work for you, how about checking email only 3 times a day. How would that improve your life?)

Eliminate, Automate, Delegate, and Negotiate.

These are concepts we all have dabbled with. I like how Jennifer White describes them in her book, Work Less, Make More. We will get into these one at a time.

Step 3) Eliminate:

Look at the list you made on how you’ve been spending your time. What can you eliminate to create more time for what energizes and excites you? If you’re about to say nothing, then you need to look again. All of us do some nonessential activities.

Remember the 80/20 rule: Twenty percent of our activities produce eighty percent of our results. So let’s get rid of some of the stuff that doesn’t work.

If you’re really worried you’ll miss something try this. Stop doing a few of the activities you think might not be very important and see what happens. Did anyone notice? Did you really lose anything?

What do you do to fill time and feel productive instead of doing what you know you need to do? Stop doing that. It’s simple, and very effective.

I bet 20-50% of what you are currently doing you don’t need to do. You have to say no to the good so you can say YES to the great. That’s one of the ways to get more time.

Step 4) Automate:

What do you do every day, week, or month that could be automated? With your smart phone and laptop you have more power than kings used to have.

Research what software programs and apps can help you automate.

Many of them are free and save you a ton of time. Here are just a few ideas for apps and software that help automate tasks and save you time:

Create email templates.

Certain types of emails are required frequently. Write a great thank you email and save it as a template for the next time you need one. You can then spend just a minute or two personalizing it and you’re hitting send. Sweet.

Do the same thing for every type of email you tend to write repeatedly. Huge time saver.

Cluster.

A close cousin to automation is clustering, grouping, or batching. This is where you take your simple tasks and do them all at the same time instead of allowing them to constantly interrupt your day. I do this with email, snail mail, voice mail, and more. I create all my tweets and Facebook posts at one time and schedule them via Hootsuite to go out at different times throughout the week. I spend one day working on ideas for several blog posts.

What tasks can you use clustering with?

That’s enough for now. I will get you the final 3 steps to having more time in my next post.

Questions for comments: What strategies do you use to help you have more time for what’s most important to you?

Outsource What You Don’t Want to Do for Almost Nothing

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Are there things you have to do, but you don’t really want to do?

Um, Greg, is this a trick question? Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?

Sorry.

Here’s the point. You can outsource almost everything you don’t want to do – and most of it doesn’t cost very much. Why waste your precious time doing things you don’t like and might not be very good at?

How much more could you get done if you focused most of your time on the things you love to do and do well? At work? At home?

Yes, it costs money. But not as much as you might think, and how much more money could you make focusing on your most important things?

As I was writing my book (shameless plug – makes a great Christmas gift – especially for your college educated son living in the basement playing video games all day) I realized I didn’t want to spend the time and effort creating the cover, formatting it for print and digital outlets, and doing the final editing. I also knew I couldn’t do those parts of the book as well, and as quickly, as people who do that sorts of things as their main job.

So, I outsourced all of it!

I used a website called Fiverr. You have tons of people and organizations from America and all around the world to choose from. Each one’s performance is rated by the users and you can reach out to them before you put down your money to get the job done. All the work is based on $5 gigs.

My front cover was $5. My back and side cover were another $5. A digital 3D photo for my website and Amazon was $5. You get the idea.

I had several people in the business tell me it would cost several hundred dollars to get my book cover created. I did it for $15 plus tax. Sweet.

Here are some other websites that can help you outsource your unwanted tasks:

Peopleperhour
Guru
Upwork
Elance

As I ramp up my business on helping people find and pursue their Passionate Purpose I plan to spend my time on what only I can do and outsource the things I’m not as good at, don’t like to do, or don’t want to spend my valuable time doing.

Think about all the things you could outsource at home and at work:

  • Video editing
  • Grocery delivery
  • Research
  • Web design
  • Research
  • Graphic design for covers, logos, banners, etc.
  • Creating Power Point slides – Great ones
  • Podcast editing
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Cleaning: It doesn’t have to be a weekly maid. How about once or twice a month? How about only the really tough stuff, like the bathrooms, and the windows?

Do what you love, what needs your touch or voice, and what creates the most for you. Outsource the rest.

Question: What have you outsourced? What has worked well and what hasn’t?

When Did We Decide Working Too Hard is Something to be Proud Of?

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A new Bloomberg poll shows 27% of Americans think we have a lagging work ethic. I would qualify that belief to this: Some Americans have a lagging work ethic.

We have all seen the people who are doing just enough not to get fired, or the people who really don’t want to work at all.

I do worry that we now have a few generations who seem to think the good life is something they’re entitled to and not something you have to work for.

But there is also a danger if you go to the other extreme. When work becomes your idol and all you live for, that’s not good either.

When did we decide working too hard is something to be proud of?

I’m all for working hard and getting things done, but what about time for your family, friends, sleep, God, and relaxation? What about time to volunteer, think, read, and exercise?

Too much work will lead to you losing many of the things you hold dear. It will also lead to a reduction in the quality of your work and it could actually kill you.

Other than that, it sounds AWESOME!

My daughters really want to try out for a professional play in our city. But, when we looked at the practice schedule we told them no.

Rehearsal is from 5-10pm every weeknight. On the weekends, it’s from 8am-5pm. For three weeks. Wow.

Right now they leave the house at 7:15am and get home from school around 3:30pm. It would take 30-45 minutes just to get to rehearsal. They wouldn’t get home until around 10:45pm. They would still have homework to do. That doesn’t include piano practice, showering and getting ready to go to sleep.

That’s too much. They would not be able to give their best to the show or to their schoolwork. They would end up tired and miserable.

Sometimes it’s hard to say no to something we really want to do or something we feel we should do, but we need to give ourselves permission to say no.

It’s not a badge of honor to work yourself to death. It will actually end up hurting you, your quality of work, and the ones you love.

I’m going to spend some time this weekend rethinking how I spend my time each day. I’m going to prioritize what I need to do in all phases of my life.

If you decide to do the same, let me know what plan you came up with. I’m sincerely interested.

Who Else Wants to Get More Done in Less Time?

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You are working harder than ever. From the second the alarm clock goes off until your head hits the pillow at night you are working. It’s slowly killing you and you’re starting to notice that all that work isn’t doing as much as you thought it would.

It’s time to spend less time working to do more.

Ok, get the guys in the white coats. Greg’s really lost it this time.

Nope, never been more sane. I’ve noticed that when I’m trying to put out all the fires and be all things to all people, I let other people determine my priorities. You know what happens then? My most important tasks don’t get done.

When I decide my top three priorities and take them one at a time until they’re done, I get more important things done. That helps everyone more.

Here’s how you do it, depending on if you’re self-employed or you’re an employee.

Self-employed:

1) Ask yourself: What is the most important thing that if you got it done today would make the biggest difference to your business?

2) Do that until it’s done. I know sometimes “things come up.” But you need to schedule time for your most important activities or something will always “come up.” At the minimum, work on this task for one hour. Then take a break for emails, phone calls, fires, etc. Then repeat the process.

3) Repeat steps one and two for your three priorities until you’re done for the day.

4) If time remains, do the next thing on your list.

5) Celebrate a great day! Go for a walk with your spouse. Eat some boiled peanuts and watch a martial arts movie. (Wait, that’s just what I like to do. Sorry.)

If you’re an employee:

1) Meet with your boss and ask him/her and work out what the companies goals are for you – short and long term. What does he expect from you? What are the top three most important things he expects you to get done?

You might think you know this already. Hey, you might. But, you also might be surprised just how different your ideas of what is important are from what your boss thinks.

2) Focus 80% of your time on those top three things your boss wants done. Do this in one-hour increments. Tell everyone, no interruptions during that time. Set a timer. You will be shocked what this type of focus will do.

3) As you show your boss how much important work you’re getting done, see if he will delegate some of your less important work to someone else. (You will be surprised how often the answer will be yes.)

4) Use the other 20% of your time to do the less important but necessary tasks of your job.

5) Win the office fantasy football pool. Whoo hoo! (Whoops, sorry, that’s my stuff again.)

Let me know how this works!

Working Too Many Hours Hurts Everyone

We tend to think that working long hours shows we have a strong work ethic. It’s proof we’re not lazy and it will lead to more success.

Some of us even get in competition with our buddies on how many hours we put in.

But research shows that too much work is actually counterproductive. It hurts your health and your productivity.

A new study, published in the Lancet medical journal, showed a correlation with work hours and risk of stroke.

Compared to the “normal” 40-hour workweek, working from 41-48 hours increased your risk of stroke by 10%. If you worked up to 54 hours a week the risk jumped to 27%. The last group working over 55 hours a week saw risk of stroke increase by 33%.

The reason for this isn’t proven yet. The researches think it could be due to increased stress, longer periods sitting at your desk, or just the fact that you have less time to eat right, exercise and take care of yourself properly.

Meanwhile, a Stanford study shows that after you reach 50 hours a week your productivity takes a big hit. Push it past 56 hours and your work starts to downhill fast. When you reach 70 hours a week, you produce nothing worthwhile with all that extra time.

That study focused on munitions workers so it’s not exactly the same for most of us who do office work. However, many other studies show the diminishing returns from overwork and not enough sleep.

You can get away with it in short bursts for big projects, but if it becomes the norm, your quality of work – and your health – will suffer greatly.

Depending on the survey, around half of American workers now say they put in more than 50 hours a week.

It’s time to start asking ourselves what we – and our employers – get for that?

Is there a better way to work less, get more done and achieve more balance in our lives?

Yes!

I’m going to give some ideas on that in my next post.