Get More Done By Doing Less

On January 13, 2018 the Wall Street Journal published an article by Morten T. Hansen titled, “The Key to Success? Doing Less.” It’s in the vein of the book “Rest” by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang and the book “When” by Daniel Pink (last month’s newsletter). The second level headline of the article includes the line, “most top performers…have one thing in common: they accept fewer tasks and obsess over them.”

Hansen starts by discussing the “Natalie Question,” as in how Natalie did it, it being about how, “Natalie bested me at work – and went home each day at 6pm.” “Bested me” meant her work was better than his and “her analysis contained crisper insights, more compelling thoughts.” All while working a lot fewer hours.

Here are a few things I gleaned from the article.

  • Find the simplest solution, as per Occam’s razor (the simplest answer or path is usually the best one). He gives an example of how a boss had him distill a presentation down to one slide, yes, one slide.
  • Say no and/or start classifying work around its value versus internal and goals (as value is what we all need to offer). Make others realize they should not want you spread too thin so what you do gets done great.
  • The previous point is important because by having a narrow scope productivity goes up about 25%.
  • Don’t focus on activity, focus on results. He gives the example of a engineer who was always too busy given he wanted to get his reports in on time. What he didn’t realize was those reports weren’t needed or required anymore (he missed the memo I guess, as he was too busy writing reports). Or, don’t worry about how many phone calls you made, concentrate on how many appointment you made.

So how does this affect your and my world? First, don’t make work or let others make work (either make it for you or do it themselves so they can’t get to what’s important). As New Yorker’s like to say, get to the point.”

I mentioned how this philosophy is similar to what’s in the book Rest. I know when I focus and set my mind to something it gets done sooner and the result is better. It’s the same with business buyers and sellers. If they concentrate on what they need to do as part of the process, deals get done more often and quicker.

Conclusion     

This seems to be a popular topic as I’ve mentioned two books and this article. I also just received a newsletter from my CRM provider titled, “3 Ways to Be More Productive At Work In 2018.” The three ways mentioned are remove distractions, start time blocking, and say no. As we’ve moved to a faster paced world where technology is omnipresent, there appears to be a lot of research going into getting things done versus being busy. John Naisbitt was absolutely right, the more high tech we get the more high touch we need. And one thing high touch means is not feeling we have to do more just because we have 24/7 access to work via our phones, tablets, etc. (we need to do it right and with urgency).

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