Often, the desire to achieve massive results transforms into the desire to do everything and be everywhere at the same time, trying to take every opportunity available.
While productivity is associated with hard work, it’s also mistakenly associated with the amount of work you’re capable of doing. Work harder, get up earlier, stay up later—those have been considered prerequisites of incredible productivity for a long time. In reality, this advice is completely misleading.
This formula doesn’t prove to work out. More often the result of hyperactivity is lowered motivation, extreme tiredness, and zero headway. The eagerness to do as much as possible is likely to make you burn out more quickly than achieve anything.
The secret weapon that was employed long ago by the most successful people is the ability to achieve more by doing less. It might seem controversial, but the truth is it works perfectly well.
Here are five tips to help you do just this:
1. Define Your Goals
Before committing to the next activity, take some time to define your goals. Clarity matters! You have to be crystal clear what you want to achieve within a day, week, or even within your lifetime. The very reason why you’re involved in so many tasks might be that you don’t know what you want. As a result, you try to do as many things as possible in order to justify your productivity somehow.
However, if the tasks you’re executing don’t contribute to your goal, there’s no sense to keep on doing them. Define your goals and eliminate the tasks that have no value. Do less with full concentration and commitment. It’s not only fine to do less, but it’s a strong prerequisite of attaining goals faster.
Having defined your goals, you’re now able to realize what tasks and activities have the biggest impact on your progress. Identify the critical tasks that are vital for success. Build a road map that you can refer to every time you doubt what to do next. You need to have a clearly defined vision of how you’re going to reach your goals, so having a blueprint is crucial. Otherwise, you risk jumping between random activities that’ll do nothing but consume your time and distract you from the things that matter.
3. Flex Your “No” Muscle
We all suck at saying “no” to people, the reason usually being we don’t want to seem rude. But eventually, after saying “yes” several times, you end up showing your commitment toward things that matter most to other people and not to you. As a result, you spend your most precious asset—time—doing things that have nothing to do with your own goals.
It’s crucial to learn to say “no.” It’s not rude if you say that you already have another commitment and don’t have time to help. This magic word is going to save you a lot of time to complete your own tasks.
4. Cut Your To-Do List Down
No doubt there are things on your list that you need to get done, but it’s possible that you also have a lot of tasks sitting there that you can get rid of.
First, postpone the tasks that aren’t urgent. This will relax some time constraints and let you work at a normal pace.
Second, delegate. Identify the tasks you know you’re not good at (but still ended up on your list), and delegate them to a person that has exceptional knowledge in that field and will enjoy working on the assignment. Remember, you don’t have to do everything.
Third, find those points on your to-do list that could simply be deleted. Yes, seriously—there are always things that don’t have any weight, and the absence of their completion is not going to harm your overall progress. Remove them from your plate and move on.
5. Don’t Overwork
Staying up late often seems like a great way to do some extra work and make a leap in your progress. Regrettably, in the long run, this strategy is going to harm your productivity and make you more vulnerable to stress and failure. The pace you attain your goals is not measured in hours spent struggling over tasks.
Quit this race and make sure you stop after the day’s done. A few additional hours of work will do nothing but make you feel tired, and ruin the entire next day. Work a decent amount of time per day and then let your brain rest.
Insane productivity isn’t about working harder—it’s about working smarter.
Make sure you do the right things instead of doing some random things right. Organize your work in such a way that you always know what each task means for your each of your ambitions, and move constantly toward the things you want to accomplish. Don’t let other trivial stuff invade your workflow and distract you from the things you really care about. Do what matters!
This article was originally published on Medium. It has been republished here with permission.
Photo of person working courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.