Five steps to doing less, but achieving more

In a recent talk I gave at a women’s conference, I spoke about my belief that if only we all did less we would achieve more.

Lots of the conference attendees spoke to me after and said that whilst they agreed with me that the way forward to being more successful could be as simple as doing less of the ‘stuff’ and focusing more on what makes them a success, they still couldn’t see how to get rid of the ‘stuff’ that fills their day so here’s my quick five step guide to doing less but achieving more.

Step One – Accept the world won’t end if you don’t do everything

Lots of professionals and business owners have this firm belief that if they don’t do something they have always done, then the world will end. Ok so that’s a bit dramatic, maybe they just think that if they don’t do certain things business will suffer. The likelihood is that there are a good few hours a week of ‘stuff’ that you carry out in your business that if you stopped doing, right here and now, no one would notice, sales wouldn’t suffer and you would free up time to focus on things which really do make a difference.

The best option is to review your work on an hourly, daily and weekly basis and consider what could be cut out altogether and what you could get someone else to do. The more stuff you get rid of that doesn?t make a difference, the easier it is to concentrate on the things that will bring about results.

Don?t confine your cull of stuff to just your work life, stopping doing stuff that makes no or little difference at home or in your personal life can free up time, unclog your busy head and allow you more time to focus on what’s important to you.

  • Who would know if you didn’t iron your bedding?
  •  Does anyone mind if the car isn’t washed or you only hoover weekly not daily?

Whatever it is that you do, review it. Can you do it less or not at all? Who would really care? Who would notice?

Step Two – Focus on the real stuff

Are you a twitcher? No I don’t mean bird watcher, I mean a ‘pop up watcher – you know those pop up messages on your screen or phone which say you have a new email, facebook message or tweet. They may make you feel important that someone has something to tell you but how much of the time are you distracted by messages that you don’t even need to read, let alone urgently.

Change your habits, switch off the notification sounds and pop ups and set aside a time of the day to check messages and emails all in one go. That way you can focus on the work in hand (the real stuff, the stuff that pays you) and give your best to that work rather than being distracted by the constant chatter. Unless you are paid to monitor and manage the chatter, of course.

Step Three – Respect your time as a precious commodity

Far too often business owners forget that their time is a precious element of the business they run. WE can easily forget that time is money and find ourselves in unproductive meetings, on courses that don’t help us move forward or at networking events that don’t help our business.

The type of things we are talking about here could be things like attending a networking group that you know doesn’t help you or your business but the members have become great friends. That’s great, but maybe its time to find another networking group or spend the time following up possible leads rather than chatting with people uninterested in your business.

Step Four – Accept that you will make mistakes

If you’re one of those people who hates the idea of making a mistake and keeps working on something until its absolutely perfect you could be wasting your time. Whilst I agree you should try your best and I hate sloppy workmanship, but sometimes we can go too far and slip into perfectionism mode. When we do this we can lose perspective of the job in hand and begin to focus on the wrong things.

I meet business owners all the time who are working on projects such as new web sites, new products or new marketing materials. They can become obsessed with perfection and thereby miss the opportunities out there. You see, sometimes Ok is just that – OK to share and get out there, you can always launch version two. Most brands and businesses are continually improving their products and services because sometimes we just have to get things out there and keep on updating it and moving it forward as we can.

Don’t take this to mean you can send out mediocre or second rate. This is a message for people who spend too long making things perfect and not pushing forward.

Step Five – Outsource the stuff

I’ve said this time and time again, there are some things which take you ages which someone else could do better, quicker and much more cost effectively than you. This can be things in your business like marketing, accounts, PR or writing tenders. Alternatively, if you don’t want other people to be involved in your business can you get help with the stuff that takes up time outside work such as cleaning, supermarket shopping, managing holiday bookings, gardening, house maintenance or ironing.

By getting other people to do the stuff that takes up your time and doesn’t help you in achieving success, you can find more time to spend on the things which will move you and your business forward.


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