How to Get More Done by Doing Less: Optimising Your Daily Routine
The real behind working 'smart' and not too 'hard'
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I don’t like doing a lot of things.
That probably sounds like a lie, if you know me. To clarify, I don’t like doing a lot of things unnecessarily. I already have a very multi-faceted, portfolio career (and life, pretty much), so rather than add onto a very full plate, I like to remove what I don’t need.
In today’s age of ‘showing and telling’, where the temptation to share all the wonderful things we are doing sometimes dwarfs the importance of doing the work well, it leaves many of us starting 10 million things and quickly left in amazement that we simply cannot do it all. Another thing to note, is that you don’t need to be doing 10 million things in the first place. It’s perfectly normal and possible to not have five side hustles, not exercise 6 times a week, or not go for coffee dates every free afternoon.
However, as we do get older, we find ourselves bound to multiple responsibilities concurrently. The question is - how do we make the best of our days without feeling burnt out, exhausted and overworked? Is it possible to maximise our output whilst minimising our output? The ever so classic ‘smart work’ over ‘hard work’?
It’s possible, I promise.
Read on to find out.
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Time blocking is one of my favourite principles - it’s a productivity technique that involves scheduling specific blocks of time for different tasks or activities. By setting aside specific blocks of time for specific tasks, you can better manage your time, increase focus and productivity, and ultimately save time. To effectively use time-blocking, it is important to start by setting clear goals and priorities. I like to do this at the beginning of each day.
Identify the most important tasks or activities that need to be completed and allocate specific blocks of time for each one. For example, if you are working full time and trying to juggle a side hustle, blocking in time in the evenings when you have returned home from work reminds you that you need spend a consistent daily amount of time. Be sure to schedule in breaks and downtime to avoid burnout and maintain focus throughout the day.
⚡️ ACTION: Create a schedule which creates specific, time-bound and realistic blocks for the work you need to complete.
Leverage your relationships
Effective relationships are essential for productivity, both in personal and professional contexts. When we think about productivity, it’s tempting to think that it’s all about you and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
To leverage relationships for increased productivity, it is important to start by identifying your Key Personal Network (KPN) and building strong connections with them. Who are your friends, colleagues and mentors? Can you collaborate on your business with someone in your network? Can you ask your mentor to facilitate introductions or provide you with time-saving connections? Can you meet up with a friend and workout together to knock two birds with one stone? I frequently do the last option to ensure I workout, but also have time to catch up with a friend.
Developing a network of contacts and resources can also help to expand opportunities and open up new avenues for growth and achievement. You may want to outline this on an excel spreadsheet, if you’re anything like me, and enter in regular notes on the nature of these relationships and connections.
⚡️ ACTION: Identify your KPN (Key Personal Network) of go-to relationships you can utilise on a weekly/monthly basis to improve your productivity.
Minimise distraction during focus time
Distractions can be a significant barrier to productivity, but there are several practical ways to minimise them. One effective strategy is to create a designated workspace that is free from distractions, such as noise or clutter. This can involve setting up a separate room or section of a room with minimal distractions and ensuring that all necessary tools and resources are within reach. Personally, I like to leave my phone on do not disturb or out of reach whenever I have work which requires my full attention.
Additionally, using productivity tools such as noise-cancelling headphones or time-tracking apps can help to limit distractions and stay focused on the task at hand. It can also be helpful to establish boundaries with colleagues or family members, communicating the importance of uninterrupted work time and setting clear expectations for when interruptions are acceptable. For example, I don’t take any calls or respond to text messages before 11am Mon-Friday.
Finally, taking regular breaks and practicing mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can help to reduce stress and maintain focus throughout the day. By implementing these practical strategies, it is possible to minimise distractions and increase productivity.
⚡️ ACTION: Actively curate your environments to ensure that you can focus and create your best work when it is necessary for you to do so.
Identify times of high productivity
When trying to save time and energy. is also helpful to consider your natural energy levels and plan accordingly, scheduling more demanding tasks during periods of peak energy. For example, I know for a fact that I am most productive in the morning. I like unwinding, chilling or doing some form of engaging with loved ones in the afternoon and evening. That means I tend to get the bulk of my work done much earlier on in the day, and everything else in the afternoon/ evening.
Sticking to the schedule is key to ensuring maximum productivity, but be prepared to adjust the schedule as needed based on unexpected events or changes in priorities. By regularly reviewing and adjusting your time-blocking strategy, you can optimise your productivity and make the most of your time.
⚡️ ACTION: Identify and schedule work for times that you know you are the most productive during the day, and schedule ‘down time’ when you are not as productive.
Create a schedule which creates specific, time-bound and realistic blocks for the work you need to complete.
Identify your KPN (Key Personal Network) of go-to relationships you can utilise on a weekly/monthly basis to improve your productivity.
Actively curate your environments to ensure that you can focus and create your best work when it is necessary for you to do so.
Identify and schedule work for times that you know you are the most productive during the day, and schedule ‘down time’ when you are not as productive.
💥 Extra Goodies
The Law of the Vital Few: How to do more by doing less by Anthony Sanni
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