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The More You Do, The More You’ll Have To Do

Here’s how to multiply your time and do less, but actually improve your overall productivity.

GG van Rooyen

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Rory-Vaden

What exactly is the point of all the productivity strategies, hacks, apps and to-do lists we’re all so obsessed with these days? The point, obviously, is to help us be more effective in how we use our time. But here’s the thing: None of it seems to be working.

Sure, a strategy or tool might be effective in helping us deal with a specific duty in a more efficient manner, but it never seems to result in a marked increase in overall free time.

The more we do, the more we have to do.

Why is this? According to self-discipline strategist and New York Times bestselling author Rory Vaden, the problem lies in our fundamental approach to productivity. According to Vaden, everything we think we know about productivity is wrong.

Related: Why Time Management is Just a Waste of Time

It’s about emotions

“Today, time management is no longer just logical. Today, time management is emotional,” says Vaden. “How we choose to spend our time is not just logical, it is also emotional. Our feelings of guilt, fear, anxiety and frustration dictate how we choose to spend our time as much as anything that’s in our calendar or on our to-do list.”

But the traditional ways of looking at time management do not take this emotional element into account. It treats humans like automatons that approach tasks in robotic fashion, with little concern for the emotions that drive our activities.

Over-simplified thinking

A lot of thinking around time management and efficiency is one-dimensional and overly simple. The thinking is: The quicker I manage to scratch items off my to-do list, the more time I’ll have. The frenetic pace of the modern world, however, has shown that this is not the case. Frantically ticking items off your to-do list by order of importance never seems to result in more free time.

However, a more evolved version of this paradigm exists, of which Dr Stephen Covey’s time management grid is a good example. It looks not only at what is important, but also at what is urgent.

The aim of this approach is to prioritise — to focus on that which is both urgent and important. But, while adding urgency to the equation can certainly help in setting the right priorities, it has a massive limitation when it comes to time management: It is incapable of adding free time. In no way does it clear your schedule and free up time — it simply reshuffles your to-do list.

“All prioritising does is take item number seven on your to-do list and bump it up to number one, but it doesn’t do anything inherently to create more time,” says Vaden. “All it does is allow you to take time away from one activity to accomplish another.”

This, according to Vaden, leaves us with only one strategy: To do more things, and to do them more quickly, which results in the kind of harried and rushed society we’re living in today.

Three-dimensional thinking

Thankfully, there is a strategy to overcome this — what Vaden calls three-dimensional time management thinking — but it requires us to look at time management and productivity in a very different way.

According to this strategy, you don’t look only at the importance and urgency of any activity, but also its significance — in other words, how long will any given priority truly matter? You need to ask yourself: What can I do today that will make tomorrow better?

“You multiply your time by giving yourself the emotional permission to spend time on things today that will give you more time tomorrow,” says Vaden.

Okay, so what exactly does this mean in real terms? According to Vaden, you need to ask the following questions when any task arrives on your desk:

  1. Is this task really necessary? Is it even worth doing, or can I eliminate it right from the outset?
  2. If I can’t eliminate it, can I perhaps automate it? Can I create a process for this?
  3. If it can’t be automated, can it be delegated? Can I teach someone to do this?
  4. If it can’t be delegated, should I do this now, or can it wait?

Related: 7 Management Lessons From a 7-Time CEO

The Focus Funnel

Time management grid

Vaden tells us to imagine this process as a funnel, with any task going through the stages of elimination, automation and delegation, until it drops out of the bottom of the funnel, becoming your problem. If you decide that a task can wait, Vaden says you are ‘procrastinating on purpose’.

The task goes back into the funnel, cycling through until you can either automate or delegate it, or you find that it has become a task that you need to do immediately. If none of this ever happens, well, you’ll realise that this is a task that simply isn’t all that important, and can be eliminated altogether.

“There’s a difference in waiting to do something that we know we should be doing, but don’t feel like doing, and waiting to do something because we realise that now is not the right time,” says Vaden. “That isn’t procrastination; that is a virtue that the world really needs: the patience to put off the insignificant things like checking email 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” 

Watch this

Watch Rory Vaden’s TEDx talk on the subject How to Multiply Your Time.

Read Next: 5 Time-Management Tools for Small Businesses to Improve Productivity

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6 Steps To Go From Procrastinating To Productive

As an entrepreneur, practice saying to yourself, “I will not do the work of my smart, very talented and motivated team.”

Jeffrey Hayzlett

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Procrastinating To Productive

As entrepreneurs and business owners, we have tasks on our list that we’d rather not do. So, we keep moving the goal post farther down the field and do almost anything we can to avoid those distasteful jobs.

Personally, I don’t like to get involved in extra paperwork or monthly expense reports. Other founders have their own least favorite activities.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because there’s an obvious solution: delegation. As a matter of fact, I created a motto along these lines: I will not do the work of my smart, very talented and motivated team.

My job, after all, is to concentrate on the bigger parts of the business, like generating revenue. And while there are other such tasks that are necessary to operating a business, I might be avoiding them too because they slow me down. So, I again delegate them to the team.

I guess in a way, we’re all capable of being procrastinators.

According to a 2013 survey by salary.com, 69 percent of survey respondents said they wasted time at work on a daily basis – a 5 percent increase from the previous year. Thirty-four percent of respondents estimated they routinely wasted 30 minutes or less each day; 24 percent said they wasted between 30 and 60 minutes; and 11 percent said they wasted hours every day.

As a business owner, I could see how those numbers might send my fellow owners’ blood pressure through the roof, but my own response would be more practical: I’d pursue tools, tricks and techniques to minimise procrastination and maximize productivity.

Related: Deepak Chopra Has 3 Simple And Surprising Productivity Secrets For You

Here are a few of those techniques:

Don’t overwhelm yourself

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work on your plate, meetings and deadlines. Lately, I’ve been focusing on launching new avenues for C-Suite TV, and it can be overwhelming sometimes.

When tasks seem insurmountable, here’s one way to lessen that burden: Get out your “to-do” list. Then, instead of writing down that big task as one huge thing, break it down. Breaking a big task into multiple line items makes it more manageable. You have your end goal, but by reducing it to its smaller components, you get a clearer picture of what you need to do.

Crossing off the smaller parts of the larger task gives you a sense of accomplishment you wouldn’t have if you tackled the massive task all at once.

Flip the script

I don’t care who you are: Whether you’re a worker, a manager or a CEO, you’re just like everyone – and we all hate doing certain tasks. So why not flip the script?

Bite the bullet, kiss the frog – whatever you want to call it: Put that task at the top of your to-do list that day. You’ll eliminate the task quickly and move on to the rest of your day. Not to mention, you’ll have a bigger sense of accomplishment knowing that you’ve steam-rolled the largest obstacle you had awaiting you.

Related: How To Make Better Business Decisions That Drive Productivity And Profits

Forget perfection

Everyone wants to make a good impression and put his or her best foot forward at work. Procrastination comes not from the inability to get the job done, but from fear and insecurity. Being unsure how to perform a specific task makes us fear failure and being seen in a negative light by the boss.

I always tell my team that, “No one’s going to die.” What’s the worst thing that can happen if a specific task isn’t perfect? I might get mad if the task is not completed within the given deadline, but not if it merely needs to be tweaked. Many times, the worst conversations happen inside our own heads and we let that imaginary conversation rule our other decisions. That’s when we make mistakes.

If you’re worried about your work quality, allocate a set amount of time each day to complete (or revise) parts of the project. It’s possible to perfect a task without obsessing over it and losing focus. That’s when you know it’s time to let go of the project and focus on other things. Say it with me: No one will die.

Kill the squirrels (or distractions)

squirrels

It’s easy to procrastinate with the million distractions we have every day. According to a survey by Stop Procrastinating, 68 percent of Americans surveyed said they’d been distracted from their work duties by checking their emails, browsing the web or engaging in social media. And that was a 9 percent increase from a year before. Of that 68 percent, 39 percent said distractions cost them a whole hour a day.

Sure, it’s tempting to constantly check your Facebook or Twitter feeds, but here’s a radical concept: Log out of your social media accounts for a few hours every day.

Instead, focus on your tasks and nothing else. Do whatever it takes to get into the “zone,” to accomplish your goal. Some people at my office use headphones to muffle outside noise. I block out time on my calendar, which my employees have access to, and dedicate that time to a specific task I need to accomplish. I may even specify “no phone calls” to ensure I stay in my zone.

Be a good time manager

To transition from procrastinator to proactive leader requires organization on your part, from your mindset to your schedule. It’s hard to be organized when you feel you’re juggling multiple things, but to succeed, you must learn to juggle. Deciding how much time to dedicate to each task makes you more efficient.

For some of us busy executives, even our down time needs to be scheduled.

Related: 5 Ways That Coffee Affects Productivity

Recently, I attended the Rocky Mountain Economic Summit, where I mingled with top economists, business leaders and policymakers. I had a busy schedule, interviewing a top CEO. But I also managed to schedule down time. Being from South Dakota, I enjoy the outdoors so I scheduled some fly fishing time – away from technology, emails and phone calls.

If you’re a good time manager, you’ll have time for everything, including play time. It takes some dedication and discipline, but it’s not impossible.

Remember that the early bird gets the worm

I operate on little sleep. As any workaholic will tell you, when you go to bed at night, you can’t wait to start your day the next morning. Indeed, dawn is the most productive part of the day, according to this Wall Street Journal article. That hour of the morning brings minimal distractions, no email and hardly anyone on social media.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, starts his day at 3:45 a.m.. Richard Branson likes to “sleep in” until 5 a.m., and even my friend and fellow entrepreneur Peter Shankman gets up before it’s light out. As a business owner, entrepreneur and keynote speaker, I’ve done my fair share of early mornings; You’d be surprised how much you can get done by the time everyone else walks in the office.

The one takeaway here is that in order to make a successful transition from procrastinating to productive, you have to be disciplined, motivated and focused: disciplined enough to curb distractions, motivated enough to want to reach your end goal and focused enough to execute a plan that works for you.

We’re all different, so there’s no magic bullet solution for procrastination. But if you can build a plan that works for you, work the plan.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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(Infographic) The Organisational Tactics, Work Habits And Routines Of The Most Successful People

Take a look at how some of the most successful people set up their workspace.

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oprah-winfrey-desk-management

How your workspace is set up can help or hinder your productivity. So what makes for a great workspace?

For inspiration, see how people such as Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey organise their desks and surroundings. Of course, different tactics work for different people. So to maximise productivity, find what best suits you.

While many people believe a clean desk will provide clarity and decrease stress, that’s not what Albert Einstein thought. In fact, Einstein was a supporter of the messy desk, having once said:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”

Related: 5 Habits You Should Steal From Other Entrepreneurs’ Morning Routines

Mark Zuckerberg prefers to have the same desk as every other Facebook employee. Studies have shown that open floor plans can encourage creativity and productivity – especially if you’re rubbing elbows with the CEO.

Another option is the standing desk. According to research, productivity can get a 10 percent boost when using a standing desk. An avid user of the standing desk was author Ernest Hemingway, who put his typewriter on top of a bookshelf in his bedroom.

Check out National Pen’s infographic below to see the desk styles of some of the most famous people history to today.

national-pen-famous-desks-infographic

Related: 3 Daily Routines For Becoming Happier And More Successful

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day

From their morning routine to being productive at the office, entrepreneurs share how to get the most out of your time all day.

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How to maximise the day

Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything today. However, you might be happy to know, there are some simple things you can do to maximise your time and productivity. For starters, have a set routine – that could be a specific time to get coffee in the morning, a brief workout or a process for catching up on emails.

As part of Entrepreneur‘s “Guide to Getting More Done Every Day,” check out these 11 productivity secrets from successful entrepreneurs.

Have a routine

expresso-coffee

Drink up!

“I have a set routine I never break: Get up, walk to a coffee shop, have an espresso. It gets my brain ready to prepare for everything I am doing that day. When I’m home, I take my son, and when I’m traveling, I get to explore a new place.” – Patrick Quinlan, CEO, compliance management software company Convercent

Exercise in the morning

morning-routine

Get your day off to a great start

“At 6 a.m., five days a week, I ride for an hour on a stationary trainer. The meditative state I achieve while working out always sparks new ideas, so I’ve started capturing those thoughts after my rides, either with Siri notes or old-fashioned pen and paper.” – Neil Grimmer, founder and CEO, personalised nutrition brand Habit 

Get ready in the morning

getting-ready-in-the-morning

Morning routine is important too

“The Keurig is set to go on at 5:30. I like to have my coffee and check emails before I wake up my children for school. I use this precious time to organise orders, plan warehouse priorities for the day and check in on production. This allows me to go into my day feeling proactive and ready.” – Sara Stein, founder, gift brand Sisters of Los Angeles 

Have Wi-Fi everywhere you go

wifi-availability

… but also remember why you need it

“Great wi-fi is key – I’ve even brought my Eeros with me on trips where I’m staying in Airbnbs. If I’m in a hotel, I make sure there’s a decent gym and a great café nearby. Having a small routine on the road helps it feel less foreign.” – Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital

Wear headphones

headphones

What are you listening to?

“Fake [listening to] headphones. I have these obnoxiously large, white-and-red headphones that go over my entire ear and can be spotted from miles away. Sometimes I just put them on even if there is no music playing as a signal to leave me alone. Works like a charm. Until my team reads this!”– Scott Tannen, co-founder and CEO, bedding company Boll & Branch

Block ‘work time’

time-blocking

Leave some time for yourself

“Block ‘work time.’ My co-founder Alex and I both carve out 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on our schedules every day and protect it as best we can, so we can get through pressing items and avoid being a bottleneck to the team on outstanding questions.” – Jordana Kier, cofounder and co-CEO, natural tampon company LOLA

Communicate

communication

There is not I in TEAM

“Everyone steps out of their office at 9 a.m. and shares a piece of good news. It can be professional or personal, as long as it’s office-appropriate. It gets team members into a shared space and allows us to start the day on a high note while getting to know each other and talk about successes.” – Monica Guzman, COO, public relations firm Konnect Agency

Create fun office rituals

office-lunch

Lunch on you!

“For our internal executive meetings, if one or more people arrive late, they have to buy lunch for the next meeting. This keeps people on time and gamifies the meeting. We laugh about it with each other every time.”  – John Rubey, CEO, content provider Fathom Events

Take advantage of your commute

train-commute

That’s if you take the train or someone else is driving

“If you commute to work on a train, with limited connectivity, as I do, think of one meaty email you’ve been avoiding writing and give yourself the length of the commute to really dig in. It makes the trip go faster and lets you start your day with a great sense of accomplishment.” – James Hirschfeld, co-founder and CEO, stationery brand Paperless Post

Schedule short meetings

short-meetings

Timing is everything

“We schedule regular 20-minute walking meetings with our colleagues. The limited window forces function and encourages both parties to be efficient in their communications. It’s surprising how many issues can be resolved or clarified in that tight timeframe.” – Evelyn Rusli, co-founder, baby food brand Yumi

Workout at your desk

desk-exercise

Stretch it out

Sometimes you simply can’t get out. “In the office, there’s nothing wrong with doing sets in between calls and meetings. Do 20 squats, 20 jumping jacks.” Bonus points if you break a sweat. (Sorry, work clothes.) – Martellus Bennett, founder of creative firm The Imagination Agency

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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