Do you feel like you can’t get everything done?
You’re busy. You’re rushed. You’re feeling the stress to keep up.
It’s not a good feeling.
The obvious answer would seem to be that you just need more time. Just another hour in the day to be able to get everything done. Then home for a good night’s sleep.
I have found that approach to not work.
What has worked for me seems counterintuitive. It seems crazy. It will make you feel even more stressed in the shot-term.
But it works…
Step #1. Clear Your Mind
In order for this to work you have to clear your mind of expectations.
If you’ve been working on the same tasks for a long time you’ve built up expectations of how long certain things take to complete.
Routines can be a great thing, but they can also be very bad. As humans, we seem to get into habits. Good and bad.
With work, a very bad habit that can occur is taking a certain amount of time to complete a task and then sticking with that.
It’s like your closets at home. Are they full? It doesn’t matter the size. You’ll find ways to fill it up.
With work, we give ourselves three hours, for example, to do something because that’s how long it’s always taken. We fill the time slot.
Clear your mind of all expectations. Delete your schedule.
We’re starting over…
Step #2. Clear Your Processes
Building on the first step is the routine of how we do something. We fill that closet of time and we also fill it the same way.
The other day my wife and I were talking about our daughter. How we would show her how to do certain things.
Then it dawned on us…
What if the way we’ve always done things isn’t the only way or even the best way of doing something?
What if our daughter knows a better way to do something?
Why should we assume that just because we’re adults that we know the best way to do something?
That may be the case in many instances, but maybe not…
Something we’ve done the same way for a long time can be just fine, but we’re looking at a problem. We’re looking at something you’re struggling with.
Forget what got you here. It’s time to see if there is a better way to do something.
Step #3. Same Tasks, Less Time
Now comes the step that will determine your fate. You may kick and scream going into it, but if you force yourself to get uncomfortable it can really work out well in the long-term.
Take the task you’re struggling to do. Cut the time you normally allot yourself in half.
Get to work.
Force yourself to figure out a way to get the task done in half the time.
Seems crazy, right?
Maybe, but what you’ll find is that you can often get the task done in half the time. Usually just as good. Maybe just a shade less than as good as before, but still very much acceptable.
I’ve even had it occur where I’ve performed the task better.
I’m a golfer and you see this in golf all the time. A player has a certain pre-shot routine. It takes a long time. Then they hit a bad shot.
I’ll tell them to forget the routine. No practice swings. Nothing. Just walk up and hit it.
What is there to lose? They’re already not happy with their shots. At worst they’re going to still be hitting bad shots.
But more often than not they start playing better.
We have the ability to do things faster. We just have to get out of our comfort zone. We have to force ourselves to do better. To find new ways to do things.
Do this process for each of your tasks. Do it for each of your days. You’ll find that you may have been artificially inflated the time and effort required to complete certain tasks. You’ll possibly find new ways to get things done. You’ll find new technology. New efficiency.
You may even find that some of the things you thought were important really weren’t. You can simply cut them out of your day.
The result, oddly enough, is that you end up doing the same work in a fraction of the time. Now you have this extra time to fill. Be careful. Take a little time to rest and think. Go for walks with that extra half hour. Set aside time to try something new each week.
I’ve done this process just about once a year for a long time. I always find something that can be fixed.
I’m sure you can too.