Business + Publicity, Motherhood + Life

Do Less & Accomplish More in 2016

January 4, 2016

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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:

Do Less! 

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:

eliminate

reschedule

delegate

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!

 

 

  1. connie says:

    Great advice.

  2. Dina says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! Great advice 🙂

  3. Joel Cooper says:

    It’s great to hear you articulating these principles. When I first started using similar techniques, it was at the behest of Hyrum Smith of Franklin Covey (and my brother who had also completed the training). It was initially inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s 13 steps of self-introspection and improvement, which were the basis for Franklin Quest’s line of planners and complementary products.

    The concept: Each evening while in a low stress situation, and well thinking clearly, write out your itinerary for the following day in the form of a prioritized daily task list:
    – categorize activities with letter designations:

    “A” for items that must be accomplished for that day
    “B” represents tasts that could wait till tomorrow, but it would be nice to have them out of the way today
    “C” indicates pending tasks which are back burnered currently, however — will need attention for objective fulfillment, completing client project. Ad agency, in-house ad agency, or company advertising or marketing department job-ticket envelope should be routed to billing, along with other relevant information about client campaign for job.

    And possibly you are doing the invoicing, and like me you may wait until you have a few in order to gang activities for efficiency (depending on urgency; all activities completed in order of need).

    To set priorities, numbers are added right and in superscript position of category letters, using no more than 7 numbers per category,

    Completed tasks — receiver checkmark which = addition to archive and elimination from the daily prioritized task list

    Incomplete tasks are marked with a bullet — to be moved forward.

    Tasks no longer needed receive a minus or subtract symbol ( could be veIt’s great to hear you articulating these principles Emily. When I first started using this technique it was at the behest of Hyrum Smith of Franklin Covey and my brother who had also completed the training. It was initially inspired by the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin who is 13 steps of self improvement were the basis for Franklin planning — each night making a prioritized daily task list:

    – categorizing activities with letter designations; A for items that have to be accomplished that day, B representing those things that could wait till tomorrow but it would be nice to have them out of the way today, and C indicating pending tasks which are back burnered for the moment, but will need to be accomplished in order to fulfill an objective, which may be the completion of a client order, at which time the ticket envelope should be routed to:

    Weather going to separate billing department Oregon vIt’s great to hear you articulating these principles Emily. When I first started using this technique it was at the behest of Hyrum Smith of Franklin Covey and my brother who had also completed the training. It was initially inspired by the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin who is 13 steps of self improvement were the basis for Franklin planning — each night making a prioritized daily task list:
    – categorizing activities with letter designations; A for items that have to be accomplished that day, B representing those things that could wait till tomorrow but it would be nice to have them out of the way today, and C indicating pending tasks which are back burnered for the moment, but will need to be accomplished in order to fulfill an objective, which may be the completion of a client order, at which time the ticket envelope should be routed to billing.

    And possibly you are doing the invoicing, and like me you may wait until you have a few in order to gang activities for efficiency (depending on urgency; all activities completed in order of need).

    To set priorities, number designations are added under each letter category, with no more than 7 numbers per category,

    Completed tasks receive a checkmark — for archiving and removal from the list.
    Incomplete tasks are marked with a bullet — to be moved forward.
    Tasks no longer needed receive a minus or subtract symbol ( could be veIt’s great to hear you articulating these principles Emily. When I first started using this technique it was at the behest of Hyrum Smith of Franklin Covey and my brother who had also completed the training. It was initially inspired by the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin who is 13 steps of self improvement were the basis for Franklin planning — each night making a prioritized daily task list:
    – categorizing activities with letter designations; A for items that have to be accomplished that day, B representing those things that could wait till tomorrow but it would be nice to have them out of the way today, and C indicating pending tasks which are back burnered for the moment, but will need to be accomplished in order to fulfill an objective, which may be the completion of a client order, at which time the ticket envelope should be routed to billing.

    And possibly you are doing the invoicing, and like me you may wait until you have a few in order to gang activities for efficiency (depending on urgency; all activities completed in order of need).

    To set priorities, number designations are added to the right in the superscript position of the letter category, with no more than seven numbers per category.

    Completed tasks – receive a checkmark, for addition to the archival list and deletion from the daily area list ( along with any relevant information which may be useful later for task template and purposes.
    Incomplete tasks are marked with a bullet — to be moved forward. A task the can be eliminated receives a minus/subtract symbol (however may be moved to the archive for future consideration — just because and idea/task isn’t seen as necessary at the moment doesn’t mean it won’t seem more appropriate later).

    If invoice data travels to a physically separate
    department or is completed while you’re in administrative mode, you’ve made provision in your plan and notes.
    (depending on urgency; all activities completed in order of need).

    To set priorities, number designations are added to the right in the superscript position of the letter category, with no more than seven numbers per category.

    Completed tasks – receive a checkmark, for addition to the archival list and deletion from daily It’s great to hear you articulating these principles Emily. When I first started using this technique it was at the behest of Hyrum Smith of Franklin Covey and my brother who had also completed the training. It was initially inspired by the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin who is 13 steps of self improvement were the basis for Franklin planning — each night making a prioritized daily task list:
    – categorizing activities with letter designations; A for items that have to be accomplished that day, B representing those things that could wait till tomorrow but it would be nice to have them out of the way today, and C indicating pending tasks which are back burnered for the moment, but will need to be accomplished in order to fulfill an objective, which may be the completion of a client order, at which time the ticket envelope should be routed to billing.

    And possibly you are doing the invoicing, and like me you may wait until you have a few in order to gang activities for efficiency (depending on urgency; all activities completed in order of need).

    To set priorities, number designations are added under each letter category, with no more than 7 numbers per category,

    Completed tasks receive a checkmark — for archiving and removal from the list.
    Incomplete tasks are marked with a bullet — to be moved forward.
    Tasks no longer needed receive a minus or subtract symbol ( could be veIt’s great to hear you articulating these principles Emily. When I first started using this technique it was at the behest of Hyrum Smith of Franklin Covey and my brother who had also completed the training. It was initially inspired by the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin who is 13 steps of self improvement were the basis for Franklin planning — each night making a prioritized daily task list:
    – categorizing activities with letter designations; A for items that have to be accomplished that day, B representing those things that could wait till tomorrow but it would be nice to have them out of the way today, and C indicating pending tasks which are back burnered for the moment, but will need to be accomplished in order to fulfill an objective, which may be the completion of a client order, at which time the ticket envelope should be routed to billing.

    And possibly you are doing the invoicing, and like me you may wait until you have a few in order to gang activities for efficiency (depending on urgency; all activities completed in order of need).

    To set priorities, number designations are added to the right in the superscript position of the letter category, with no more than seven numbers per category.

    Completed tasks – receive a checkmark, for addition to the archival list and deletion from the daily area list ( along with any relevant information which may be useful later for task template and purposes.
    Incomplete tasks are marked with a bullet — to be moved forward. Tasks to be eliminated receives aIt’s great to hear you articulating these principles Emily. When I first started using this technique it was at the behest of Hyrum Smith of Franklin Covey and my brother who had also completed the training. It was initially inspired by the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin who is 13 steps of self improvement were the basis for Franklin planning — each night making a prioritized daily task list:
    – categorizing activities with letter designations; A for items that have to be accomplished that day, B representing those things that could wait till tomorrow but it would be nice to have them out of the way today, and C indicating pending tasks which are back burnered for the moment, but will need to be accomplished in order to fulfill an objective, which may be the completion of a client order, at which time the ticket envelope should be routed to billing.

    And possibly you are doing the invoicing, and like me you may wait until you have a few in order to gang activities for efficiency (depending on urgency; all activities completed in order of need).

    To set priorities, number designations are added under each letter category, with no more than 7 numbers per category,

    Completed tasks receive a checkmark — for archiving and removal from the list.
    Incomplete tasks are marked with a bullet — to be moved forward.
    Tasks no longer needed receive a minus or subtract symbol ( could be veIt’s great to hear you articulating these principles Emily. When I first started using this technique it was at the behest of Hyrum Smith of Franklin Covey and my brother who had also completed the training. It was initially inspired by the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin who is 13 steps of self improvement were the basis for Franklin planning — each night making a prioritized daily task list:
    – categorizing activities with letter designations; A for items that have to be accomplished that day, B representing those things that could wait till tomorrow but it would be nice to have them out of the way today, and C indicating pending tasks which are back burnered for the moment, but will need to be accomplished in order to fulfill an objective, which may be the completion of a client order, at which time the ticket envelope should be routed to billing.

    And possibly you are doing the invoicing, and like me you may wait until you have a few in order to gang activities for efficiency (depending on urgency; all activities completed in order of need).

    To set priorities, number designations are added to the right in the superscript position of the letter category, with no more than seven numbers per category.

    Completed tasks – receive a checkmark, for addition to the archival list and deletion from the daily area list ( along with any relevant information which may be useful later for task template and purposes.
    Incomplete tasks are marked with a bullet — to be moved forward.

    Task to be eliminated — receive minus/subtract symbol (however may be moved to the archive for future consideration — because an idea/task is broomed for the moment doesn’t mean it won’t be added back later]).

    Tasks to be eliminated receive a minus subtraction symbol
    (however may be archived for future consideration — [just because an idea/task is no longer necessary currently doesn’t mean it won’t gain important later.


    (along with any relevant information which may be useful later for task templating purposes.
    Incomplete tasks are marked with a bullet — to be moved forward. A task that can be eliminated receives a minus/subtract symbol (however may be moved to the archive for future consideration — [ sincl idea/task is unneeded currently won’t seem more appropriate later).

  4. Aly says:

    Agreed about multi-tasking! I always find myself doing multiple things and leaving many things in the middle. Not only things are left in between on that day but it also stresses me out later on thinking about what I had to do that day. I think I have to get more focused.

    In short an awesome write up! Loved the advice! Thanks SO much!

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