Getting more from less
In the last few weeks I created the world’s messiest whiteboard. It’s the New Year thing. What’s the strategy going forward? What do I want to do? What should I do? Everything was on there except focus and clarity. It was time to slash and burn some priorities. Luckily I did this with a friend.
Friends are very useful. They know more about you than you think. In particular, they know where the line is between what you are good at and where you are kidding yourself.
The strategy was simple: reduce the number of goals. In current empowerment-speak: fewer is better, less is more, lower the bar. In old-fashioned-speak, go for quality, not quantity.
What to eliminate? Most of us – or at least me – go best when we do what we want to do, plus a few things that we have to do, and let go all those other things we think we should do.
If I get that right, I get more done. More opportunities come my way, stress is lower, return on investment is higher and I don’t procrastinate because it is easier to get on with something I want to do in the first place.
So, armed with an eraser and an honest friend, I approached the whiteboard. There were five steps:
- Shorten the list of goals. Be aggressive. What were the five most important ones? My friend’s job was to keep asking, “Really, how important is it?” That eliminated the majority of the things on my list.
- Avoid duplication. Could any be combined into one? That got me down to four, and better quality ones at that.
- Get realistic. How much time would each one take? When we added that up, there simply would not be enough time to do all of them properly. I was still at four, but aware that something had to give.
- Rank by impact. Which ones would really make a difference? Down to three and time to do them properly.
- Identify the doable. Which ones did I really want to do? There were two.
What can I say about those two? Both are important. Each is sound and comprehensive. I have the time and resources to achieve both comfortably within the year, stress-free. Both make a difference to my life. They are good for my sense of achievement. I can’t wait to get started on them.
The hard part?
Letting go of all those things that my ego tells me I should be doing. There is a way to sort that out too. I work out the first action I have to take on one of my chosen two and take it. Suddenly I’m moving. Once I do that, I’m inching forward. Motivation picks up, momentum builds and those other things recede into the background. I’m on my way.
This is a pretty simple process. It works for me. If you are already overburdened with excess resolutions for 2012, it might work for you too. There are only five steps. You can do it with a friend, and yes, you can try it at home.