Giving up the TO DO List.

Are you ready to start 2020 being more productive, and if so, what does that mean to you?  Does it mean getting more done? Or does it mean spending time on the things that matter most and that add considerable value to you and your organisation?

You may be surprised to know that the answer to being more productive may not be in getting more done, but actually in doing less!  This year, set your focus on spending time doing what matters most.

Often when I am talking to people, they tell me that they want to be more productive and get more done in the day.  I totally understand the need to get more done, to achieve this feeling of accomplishment that so many of us crave, but be careful not to define ‘being more productive’ as ‘getting more done’.

What is the ‘more’ that you want to get done?  Is it part of your objectives and KPIs?  Is it something you should be doing, or something you just inherited over time? Is it something that will add more value to you and the organisation?  Or is it ‘stuff’ that you just do on auto pilot without really thinking through the benefits or consequences?

Once you stop and take a look at what you would like to do, I would also recommend that you stop and have a closer look at what you might want to stop doing.

Think about all those things that you do, that take up your valuable time, but do not really add direct value to you or your organisation.

If you are serious about being more productive, you can do no better than starting the New Year on a pro active note and beginning to compile your Stop Doing List.

Rather than trying to add more to your day, try getting rid of superfluous, low value activities.

What are you going to stop doing?

Here are my five tips on creating your Stop Doing List.

Ensure your key objectives are aligned with those of your company. Re-examine the organisation’s key objectives (no more than 3 to 5) and make sure the areas you are working on are contributing to these.  If you identify any activities that are not aligned with those objectives, add these to your Stop Doing List.

Consistently review your To Do list and look for any items that have been sitting there for a lengthy period of time.  Ask yourself: am I realistically ever going to get to them? If not, put them on your Stop Doing List.

Stop saying ‘Yes’ all the time, and learn to say ‘No’.  One reason our To Do list gets so long is because we often find it difficult to say no to other people’s requests.  Be very clear about your goals and values and very politely and assertively say ‘No’ when requests do not align with those goals and values.  If you find this hard, start with very simple ‘No’s, like declining an offer for a beverage or snack.  Another technique is to stand in front of the mirror and practise saying ‘No’.  It may sound strange, but before you know it, saying ‘No’ will feel quite natural.

Stop being so busy (efficient).  Consider all the things you are actually doing and how much they really achieve. Ensure that all your activities are driving you closer to your goals (effective). Look at what you might be using your busyness to escape from. Are you doing low value activities as a form of procrastination to avoid the difficult of complex activities? If so, use an effective planning process to tackle those high value activities first.

On a personal level, think about all the activities you are involved in, and ask yourself how passionate you are about them.  If you can’t find passion in some of them, stop doing them and look for other activities that will give you full satisfaction.  Sometimes we get caught in a rut and continue to execute activities out of habit.  We need to consistently check in with ourselves and ask the question: Am I feeling satisfied?

So armed with your new ‘Stop doing list’ in hand, it is now about managing the expectations of the people around you so they are no longer expecting things from you that are on your stop doing list.

Don’t forget to consistently review your stop doing list and add to it whenever necessary.

Need some help? Talk to me about Working Smart 365