Monday, July 26th, 2021

7 Steps to Accomplish More by Doing Less

By Karen Dodd on May 17 2010 • Filed under New Clients by Design

What do super-achievers like Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Colin Powell and Oprah have in common?

They actually work less than the majority of us, while accomplishing substantially more.

“Well sure,” you say, “they’ve got people to do so much for them. I’m just me — trying to do it all!” To a certain extent that is true, but they also found early on — before they were enormously successful — that if they followed certain principles, they could be laser-focused when they worked and still have the luxury of a balanced lifestyle to spend with friends and family.

In today’s age of mega communication via email, cell phones, instant messaging and the like, it is easy to get caught up in the addiction of always doing, doing, doing. The toll of constantly being in motion leaves many of us feeling like we’ve become “human doings” rather than human beings.

To help you gain control over your time, here are 7 super-achiever strategies you can try:

1. Learn to stop doing.

By employing the Pereto Principle — the 80/20 rule that says 20 percent of your activity produces 80 percent of your results — you can focus on activities that meet this criteria. Figure out what activities are getting you closer to your goals and reduce, eliminate, or delegate the rest. A great way to stay on track is to ask yourself before each task, “Is what I am about to do getting me closer to my goal?” If the answer is “no,” consider doing something else with that time.

2. Create boundaries and protect your energy.

You know you’re a workaholic when you or your friends and family feel there is no delineation between your work and your personal life. This is especially true for those who work from home. Learn to say no and “retrain” your clients and colleagues that you are not available 24/7. Some people will push what you will tolerate to the limit — putting your health and relationships with those you love at risk. Set your boundaries, share them “gently” with those you need to and then stick to them.

3. We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare.

While you may feel the pressure to keep up with the hare who leaps off to a fast start and pushes to finish the race first, the slow and steady pace of the tortoise often wins in the long run. Making a commitment to work at your own natural pace, as well as aiming more for consistency than speed, can go a long way to getting a lot accomplished without burning out. It’s not about how you start; it’s if you continue that matters.

4. Legendary motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, calls the management of time the “best-kept secret of the rich.”

Time is the one thing under which we are all equal. No one person has less or more than another. In a recent issue of Oprah, renowned heart surgeon, Dr. Oz, says, “It’s not about time management. It’s about energy management. The things you do in your life should give you that zest for life.” Look for ways to get a better “Return on Energy” (ROE). By being more observant of what tasks and time frames energize you, versus which ones zap your strength, you’re better able to determine what activities you should spend less or more time on, what you should be delegating, and what needs to be eliminated altogether.

5. Often, the hardest thing for self-motivated, entrepreneurially-minded people to do is to ask for help.

However, one of the greatest success disciplines of super-achievers is delegation. By constantly asking yourself, “Is what I am doing right now the best possible use of my time?” you can tap into the highest use of your genius. It’s unlikely that you’d see Donald Trump, Richard Branson or Oprah filing, cleaning or doing their own taxes. You don’t have to be fabulously wealthy to hire people to do some of the jobs that don’t require your genius. Look for creative ways to hire as needed, or even barter someone else’s expertise for your own. Once you delegate to someone, trust them to do their job and get out of their way.

6. Take time off to recharge your batteries.

If you’re one of those people who feel guilty when you take time off, you might feel better knowing this: studies have shown that as North Americans, we take less vacation days than any other industrialized nation. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that we also are experiencing burnout, depression, heart disease and cancer at staggering rates. Taking time off is a critical component of staying healthy and productive. Whether you choose to be active in your time off or just enjoy doing nothing, we all need to incorporate regular breaks and celebrations into our busy lives.

Your Assignment (something easy this week):

Instead of making endless to-do lists that become more overwhelming as the week progresses, try writing down just three major activities you want to achieve. Then, at the end of each day, take 5 or 10 minutes to “cash out.” Look at what you actually accomplished and if necessary, refine your plan for the next day. Likewise, cash out at the end of every week and every month.

By taking time to stop and re-examine your work habits and incorporating some of these ideas into your business life, you can be happier, healthier, AND attract more clients!

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