Happy New Year!
I hope you had great holidays, enjoyed plenty of downtime, indulged in lots of Netflix and sweets (like me!) and now you’re feeling refreshed, recharged and ready to take on 2016!
I could get sentimental and reflect back on this past year with its share of ups and downs, but you probably don’t want to read another dramatic new year’s post. I’m sure you’re right here with me, ready to dive in and make 2016 the best, most rewarding + profitable year yet!
My theme for the new year is simple:
Two little words that when done right, have the power to make a huge impact.
I know doing less seems counterproductive to accomplishing more, but after taking a close look at where and how I spent most of my time this past year, I’m really focusing on the specific tasks that will deliver the greatest results with less effort.
Tim Ferriss breaks this down for us in his best-selling book The 4-Hour Workweek:
“Less is not Laziness. Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is not laziness. This is hard for most to accept, because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.”
It’s such a simple concept yet we’ve been trained to believe that busy = productive.
But putting out minor ‘fires’ around the clock, checking email at all hours, scrolling FB and running endless errands isn’t really productive, is it?
Somehow between Jane’s nap schedule and Netflix (have you watched Making a Murderer yet? So frustrating, So captivating!), I read three business books that have been on my list forever. So, it was actually some pretty productive downtime. And I took notes so I could share this list of simple yet powerful tactics that I think could help us all accomplish a year of working smarter, not harder… doing less while accomplishing more.
One thing- for this to work, you have to get crystal clear on your goals for the new year. So if you haven’t already, grab a pen & paper (a bag of sour patch kids doesn’t hurt either) and have yourself an old-fashioned brainstorming / soul searching sesh. Get crystal clear on your why and inspiration for 2016. Then take action on these tactics to help make it happen.
- Stop multi-tasking.
I just finished reading The Joy of Less by Cary Richards (he has an awesome 5 book set that is loaded with inspiring information for creating an organized life and business that amounts to a little over $1 per book. Download it and read it in a day!) and was reminded about the science behind multi-tasking. Studies have found the mental blocks created when we switch from the middle of one task to another can reduce productivity as much as 40%. So how do we stay on track?
- Get organized.
Richards recommends making a to-do list for the next day every night and then… most importantly, scrub the list!
Look through everything on your list and try to put everything into one of these categories:
Everything left over should be your top priority items and go in the deal with it category. These are the ones you focus on first.
Anyone else guilty of getting carried away with unimportant emails, checking daily deal or shopping sites and scrolling Facebook? Such a waste.
Richards says we can fight this by time blocking our schedule to specifically tackle those top priorities first. Start by dedicating an hour or two to your #1 priority of the day. If you haven’t finished the task when the time is up, schedule another time block, either for right then or later, until it’s complete.
- Declutter the digital
Just like clutter around the house makes me feel frustrated at home, clutter on my desktop and in my inbox makes my business feel unorganized.
I got a head start on this one when I finally took control over my inbox this year- you can read about the system and tools I use to overcome inbox overwhelm here. But the same is true for photo storage, regularly backing-up my hard drive and keeping my phone and computer clear of old or useless apps, tools, etc.
- Say no
This is another one I focused on this past year and it made such an impact that it’s worth putting on the list again this year. If you haven’t made it a priority of your own, then this is my biggest wish for you in 2016: that you give yourself the permission to gracefully and unapologetically say no to requests, commitments, people and things that pull you away from your top priorities. And then you practice doing it… a lot!
I think this is especially difficult for women- we’re natural people pleasers and sometimes it’s easier to say yes to prevent disappointing someone. But in the end, disappointing ourselves and maxing out our time, energy and focus is not worth it.
It’s OK to say no so we can say yes and give fully to what matters most.
- Force motivation
This is one of my favorite tricks to stay productive. It works like this: if one of your goals is to do more speaking opportunities this year, then commit yourself to speak for an event… before you’re ready!
Just get it on the calendar. I guarantee, if there is a crowd of people waiting to hear you talk, you’re going to do what it takes to prioritize the work and make it happen.
- Measure & Automate
You’ve probably heard the famous business proverb by Peter Drucker, ‘What gets measured gets managed.’
We can’t really begin to improve our business or personal lives without being able to clearly see what did or didn’t work before and why.
You probably also know about Pareto’s Principle or the 80/20 rule that applies to many areas of business and life- for example, 20% of our activities account for 80% of our financial rewards, or 20% of team members account for 80% of work produced, 20% of the Christmas cookies we ate account for 80% of the calories we consumed (worth it), 80% of the time we wear the same 20% of the clothes in our closets, etc.
This year I plan to intentionally dive into my business deeper and really find & measure the rewarding, high-level 20% activities/clients/services — and repeat!
Eventually, I’d like my whole life balance to follow the 80/20 rule– 80% or more of my time available for doing what makes me happiest.
And that’s where automation comes in. Once we identify and and measure how to leverage the 20%, it’s all about creating systems to leverage time + amplify results.
So, there you have it! This is my big goal for doing less and accomplishing more in 2016 and my roadmap of tactics to making it happen.
What is your theme for the new year? Let me know in the comments below- I’d love to hear it!
Happy New Year!