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03 Feb

Do less!

Datum: 2011-02-03 08:32

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.