Why Some People Are Getting Things Done More Effectively

For all the talk about our differences and unique experiences, there are some things that everyone shares in common. Time, for one, is a common denominator that underpins all human life. 

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan pose a simple question in, The ONE Thing, that gets at the heart of the time and energy conundrum:

If everyone has the same number of hours in a day, why do some people seem to get so much more done than others? 

The answer is simple yet densely packed: those people get at the heart of things by going small.  Getting Things Done

Going Small to Make the Most

Going small is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It’s a matter of values and priorities. Your priorities should align with your values, which in turn determine how you spend your time. When you plug tasks into this formula you begin to realize that some tasks don’t make the cut. Slowly it’ll become evident that not all things matter equally, and that the things that matter more are easier to focus on and yield the most returns.

One challenge to this is comparing seemingly incomparable things. How do you compare between spending time with your family and spending an extra hour on a work-related task? Intuitively you may know that spending time with your family is important but that doesn’t necessarily diminish the urgency of completing your task. Life is complicated that way. Yet a fatal flaw in those comparisons stymies our thinking: they are far too broad.

Everyday you should reassess your tasks, not your values. Your values are guiding stars and important to keep in mind, but not every task is an instance of existential reflection.

So when you start a new day, reassess your tasks anew in order of priority.

Remember, success is built sequentially not simultaneously. By staying vigilant and organized you can carefully piece together your successes without compromising your values or feeling like you’ve run out of time. Getting Things Done

There is No Competition

Tasks, your family, your work, none of those should compete for your time. True they are all vying for finite resources but ultimately you are in control of how your time is allotted and the quality of that time. When you relinquish that power you forgo a nature-given control.

We should use our control to find balance wherever possible. When you try to attend to everything all at once and with equal effort, you will eventually careen out of control. In the long-run nothing gets done; and whatever does get done is subpar. And in any case, something will be left to the wayside. You can’t do everything. That’s human. Just make sure what gets sideswiped isn’t a value.  Getting Things Done

No More Philosophy. Give Me the Practical Steps

As it goes with many things, the key to success is a about changing perspectives. Once you do that avenues and courses of action open before you that were probably always there while you were busy facing the other direction. It isn’t magic. It’s basically turning around.

Counterbalance Work

View work as skill-based or knowledge to be mastered. This will force you to give more attention to one thing over another. That doesn’t mean ignoring one thing for another, just giving it less of your time. What that thing is should be contingent upon what you want out of your work life or career.

Professional success requires this kind of cost-benefit analysis.  Getting Things Done

Counterbalance Work

Your life has multiple areas and each requires a minimum amount of attention for you to feel that your sanity is intact. Identifying that minimum requires constant awareness. Spend too much time in one area or too little and you will feel the negative effects.

Strive to keep each area active enough.  Getting Things Done

Seek Results

Results should be concrete, tangible, and perceptible. In work it is essential; in life, it’s grounding. What are results? Goals that you set for yourself that in aggregate amount to success. “I want to learn programming.” Create a curriculum, a schedule, and follow it. When you complete that curriculum, you achieve success: every milestone on that path is a result. That’s what I mean.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When something you have identified as low on your priority scale is incomplete or low quality, don’t stress yourself. It was low on the scale for a reason. You can’t micromanage everything. You can, however, give your all to the high-priority tasks with the foreknowledge that success there is a far better investment of your time and energy. And one pro-tip is to handle the low priority stuff as quickly as possible. It’s easy to get a backlog of low priority tasks; and when that happens, it’s nightmarish.  Getting Things Done

Manage Your Energy

Think about your energy and your life as an all-encompassing whole, not as segmented into discrete areas. We sometimes over compartmentalize which creates the illusory division between world life, home life, and leisure. The reality is that these all interpenetrate at some point: time is one common denominator; energy is another.

The energy that you store within you must last you to fulfill all your commitments in each work area. Unlike batteries, we don’t have dedicated stores for each area of life. Make sure to evaluate each commitment you make as part of the greater whole and how it will drain both your time and your energy. That can help you prune away new sprouts that sap energy from the wise old trunks that need it most.

Again, these considerations boil down to values, and the priorities that flow from those values, which should inform the time and energy you spend on each. It may sound convoluted, but it’s actually quite simpleGetting Things Done

Göran Askeljung

About Göran Askeljung

Prof. (op) Göran Askeljung is also the author of BrainRead – Effective Speed Reading and Director and Senior Trainer at immediate effects. Since 2015 Göran is also a Certified Facilitator und Associate of Consensus in NY, MD of Consensus Austria and Germany and Business Consultant at askeljung.com. Göran is Professor of Practise and Head of the Institute for Sales and Negotiations at the Georgian School of Management (GSOM). He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Austria. Göran is a consultant for The Forum Corporation (UK), eBda (Fr) und Napier Training Associates (UK) and is a Certified Solution Selling® Professional from the SPI University in USA. Göran is also a certified Microsoft Solutions Sales Expert (MSSE) and is an associate lecturer at the Economical University of Vienna, the University of Vienna and the University of Graz in Austria. Having lived in Austria since 1990, Göran has held positions as MD for Microsoft Networks (MSN) in Austria, Framfab and Icon Medialab, as well as various Management positions at Ericsson, T-Systems and Konica Minolta. As a Sales- and Productivity expert, Göran is passionate about developing sustainable efficiency through interactive and well-designed learning experiences. His compassion about his expertise comes from experience as a business owner and through many years in Management. Since 2003 he has built his own L&D business in Austria, designed and developed L&D programs and facilitated for many thousands of people. Göran is married and has two children. Social Media Links: Oxford Encyclopedia | LinkedIn | XING