Have you ever ran into an old friend and asked how they were, only to hear the typical response, “I’ve been so busy”? Why is everyone so busy? Why does it always seem like there is not enough time in the day to finish everything we have on our plate? The answer is simple. We do not prioritize well and we have no idea how to say, “No.” Most of us schedule our day based on other people’s priorities for us – not our own. Most of us do not proactively plan our day, we react to it. This creates stress, multi-tasking (which is not at all effective) and a constant feeling of overwhelm. So what is the cure to this ugly disease of busyness? Saying “No” and doing less – consciously. Here are some lessons from a multitasker about learning to do more by doing less.
This goes against the programming of most of our brains, but we must take a sheet of paper at the end of each day and ask ourselves one simple question, “If I can only accomplish 2-3 things tomorrow, what are the most important?” Write them in order of importance. Multi-tasking must be abolished because it does not work. 100% of your energy needs to be focused on the first task on your list the second you get to work. Only when you finish that can you move on to task #2, and so on.
Checking email the second you get to work needs to stop. Answering the phone before your 2-3 tasks are done, also needs to stop. The only way to really be productive is to laser-focus your efforts on pre-determined tasks. This way you are dictating your day and you are ensuring that the most important tasks get accomplished. You are not allowing someone else’s email dictate your schedule for the day. You are in command. Once you have finished the most important tasks you can feel good about your day. Then you can check your email and respond to voicemails and help others. But your priorities are finished and you know that your to-do list was prioritized over someone else’s.
Becoming task-oriented, rather than time-oriented, ensures that you accomplish measurable items. An 8 hour day can easily pass without any clear accomplishments being fulfilled. When tasks are outlined, it forces you to carefully think of what is actually important versus what seems to be important. You lower your stress levels by determining what “has” to get done, versus what would be “nice” to get done.
Once you have become task-oriented, you become better at telling people “No”. This does not mean that you are rude, but you have a clear scheduled that must be accomplished. You no longer take on menial tasks that others are simply trying to delegate to someone else. You are prioritized, focused and in control of your day. Interruptions are a thing of the past. Watch your stress levels decrease and your focus increase.
These are very simple principles that you can start implementing immediately. It takes a little bit of planning but this type of daily planning creates a very large increase in your own personal productivity. It also helps decrease your stress levels because you are constantly thinking about how important each thing you do, actually is. A lot of times, our perception of a task’s importance swells based on our environment. Most tasks that we stress over, are really not that important in the grand scheme of things. Give this simple plan a shot. You have nothing to lose, except a lot of stress and multi-tasking from becoming a laser-focused, task-oriented minimalist.
Blog By Matthew Richard Harris