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03 Feb

Do less!

Date: 2011-02-03 08:32 Comments: 0 st

You’ve tried it all. You have structured and systematized your workday so that you are aware of all things you need to do, you know where you have your material and you have all your various ongoing projects under control.

You know what your most important goals are and where you are heading in the long run. You re-prioritize several times a day, so that you make sure that you are doing just the right thing to do right now in every situation.

But, it’s still too much. Still you need to work overtime to keep up and still you feel that you’re behind and conjure up too many last-minute-solutions way too often.

To solve this dilemma, there are a handful of strategies you can try, and here is one of them:

Do less.

Do this

Take out your to-do-list which contains all the things you need to do that you can possibly come to think of, regardless of what time-frames they have.

  1. Count how many tasks are on the list.
  2. Determine the size of the portion of the list you would like to get rid of – a fourth, ten percent, 20 tasks?
  3. Save the tasks you have decided to at the moment disregard in a safe place, so that you can change your mind if you should have to, but make sure to really remove the tasks from plain view, so that they are actually “removed” (but not deleted). This safe location might be, for instance, another list in the same format as your ordinary list, but with the name “Removed tasks”, or something like it.
  4. Go through your to-do-list and throw away any tasks you regard as unimportant and which you are okay with not having done.
  5. Set a date, for example in 6 months, when you erase or throw away the disregarded tasks. Trust me, you won’t miss them.

Or is it the team rather than you that has too much to do?

  1. In your next team meeting, fill a whiteboard with all larger and smaller projects that you are involved in at the moment.
  2. Determine which of them you can cross out or put on hold.
  3. Cross it off the board.
  4. Decide which project is next to be crossed off. And the next…
  5. Continue doing this until the whiteboard has a reasonable amount of projects left and you feel motivated to get going again.
  6. Update your shared project-overview (wherever and in whatever format you have it in) so that it corresponds to the whiteboard, meaning that only the projects left on the whiteboard are on your lists.

Not a step back

This isn’t a matter of lowering your ambitions, on the contrary. What is more stressful than constantly being overloaded with work? Nothing speaks for that it is fruitful for you to do all the possible tasks and activities which come to mind.

Do fewer things, and the right things, and the possibility that you achieve what you want increases in a reasonable and balanced way. Sure, you will have to decline to certain commitments you have made. But, at the same time you are saying a YES full with energy to all the tasks left on the list.

You can spend more energy on the things you truly choose to do and the remaining tasks will be performed with more skill and attention, resulting in higher quality, since you no longer have to do them last minute.

The trick is the process

The trick with this method is that you “force yourself” to make conscious decisions on all your to-do-tasks or with regards to your projects.

It’s possible that you won’t be able to decrease the list by 25%, or whatever you wanted to decrease it by, but the point is that you have now consciously chosen yourself to do the tasks left on the list.

Sure, perhaps you have left some tasks on the list because you “have to”, because your boss has assigned it to you or something like that, but at the end of the day, you have now chosen to do the task rather than face the consequences of not doing it.

The power lies within the choice; the active, conscious choice.

Less stress and a greater sense of relief

If you disregard unimportant things which you might as well could have done, you will feel less stressed and you will also feel relieved, as if the weight on your shoulders was lifted off of you, or at least now is less heavy.

You will probably also feel slightly terrified of the thought that you have chosen to remove the wrong tasks and that this decision will be a mistake, and will somehow catch up with you at some point in the future. But, this is OK; you may have removed them, but you have also saved them in a safe place just in case, so in actuality, you can relax. Nothing will happen.

Above all, enjoy the liberating feeling of removing items off the to-do-list which aren’t leading you in the right direction anyway.

How do you do it?

What’s your way of keeping your workload on a reasonable level?

Feel free to comment below.

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