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.

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!