5 Steps to Get Less Done

clarity execution Jul 10, 2018

The Importance of Doing Less

In a world consistently asking us to do, be, and have more, it's easy to fall into the productivity trap of getting more done.

What would happen though, if we tried to get less done, yet were living our ideal lives?

We can take a few tips from high performers. High performers become that way by intentionally doing less. They focus on what matters.

Brendon Burchard discusses how high-performers don't necessarily do more:

No matter the field, [high performers] produce more quality output that matters in their field. It’s not that they get more done, per se; lots of their peers might do more tasks. It’s that high performers get more things done that are highly valued in their primary field of interest. They remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. That focus to create only output that will be meaningful helps them excel.

- Brendon Burchard

This doesn't just apply to your job. Your primary field of interest might be your health, family, relationships, or career. We can be intentional in building better relationships, being a better partner and parent, and building a fulfilling career.

Here are 5 steps to help you get less done, all the while doing it better.

Step 1: Get Clear on What You Want

When we are clear on what we want to accomplish in life, we will ruthlessly eliminate the nonessential activities that dilute our efforts and energy.

When we are unclear on the desired result, we try many different tactics to see what sticks. This wastes time and energy on activities which don't produce results. What might even be worse, is reaching our goal only to learn it's not something we truly desire.

Clarity allows us to be intentional in choosing the activities which will produce the results we desire.

Step 2: Set Short Term Goals

Long-term goals may have their place, but setting goals beyond 90 days can be demotivating. There is no direct link to activities which need to be taken today. If the deadline is a year from now, we're more likely to start tomorrow. Short-term goals have a built-in sense of urgency.

At the same time, short-term goals (think 3 months or so) are long enough to provide time to accomplish something meaningful. Audacious goals require consistent time, energy, assistance from others, and hard work. Trying to cram all that into a week or a month can cause frustration because of unrealistic or unmet expectations.

Step3: Craft a Solid Plan

A simple approach to crafting a solid plan is to work backward from the desired result by asking, "What would need to happen to get this result?"

With the answer in hand, ask the question again. Repeat until you arrive at the first step you must take toward your goal.

To make the most of our energy and time, for each step along the way choose the highest leverage methods which will deliver results. We need to focus on the activities which provide the most return on our investment. The Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule states approximately 80% of the results are generated by 20% of the effort.

In the simplest terms, if you are going to work for one hour, would you choose the job that pays you $20 or the one that pays you $80?

High performers focus on the outputs that will help them excel and de-prioritize the rest.

Step 4: Measure What Matters

There are two primary metric types: execution and effectiveness.

Effectiveness metrics compare the current progress against the desired result.

For example, you want to write a book. Your goal is to write 1000 words a day, 5 days a week for 10 weeks to get a 50,000-word book. The first week, you wrote 5500 words.

Congratulations, you reached your goal! Sort of...

Execution metrics track your effort. They measure how consistently you are executing the steps in your plan.

In the example of writing 1000 words a day, you wrote 1000, 0, 0, 2000, 2500 words a day for 5 days. Your execution score was 60% since you only wrote 1000 words for 3 of the 5 days.

If you only do what you commit to 60% of the time, how likely are you to reach your goals?

Measuring what matters allows you to determine if it's your plan or your execution.

Step 5: Execute Consistently to Get Less Done Faster

We usually fail to reach our goals due to poor execution, not due to a poor plan. Consistent execution improves our chances of reaching our goal. It also allows us to better manage our time and energy.

Back to the book example, you may reach your 50,000-word goal for the book, but inconsistency will lead to working longer some days to make up for the days you skipped. Counting on making up for the missed days towards the end of your week is stress you probably don't need. Life happens and we need to adjust to what occurs around us and we won't be able to execute 100% of the time.

Consistent, focused execution helps you do less and get more done.

Where to Start

If you feel as if you are trying to get more done and it's not working, take a few minutes to answer the following questions and see where you can try to get less done and still achieve phenomenal results.

  1. What is one area of your life you would like to improve?
  2. What is one thing, if achieved, would lead to improvement in this area of your life?
  3. What would need to happen to reach your goal and make this one thing a reality? Repeat until you identify the first step needed.
  4. When will you schedule this first step in your calendar?
  5. What can you measure about your execution to ensure you are consistently taking action towards reaching your goal?
  6. When will you review your progress and adjust your behavior if necessary? I recommend a weekly review.

I'd love to know what audacious goals you're crushing by getting clear on what you want and taking consistent action. Leave a comment below so I can encourage you and celebrate with you!

Much love,