Are You Being Active Or Impactful?
We work too much! With the countless advancements we’ve seen in productivity (up 299% from 1950-2018) you’d think we would work LESS now than folks did 70 years ago. That’s not the case. Many of us work the same if not MORE than the average person in 1950! If our efforts are 3X as productive, how could we possibly be working MORE?!
You won’t like the answer. It’s because you’re likely doing the WRONG things with your time! Rather than asking yourself if your activities are impactful, meaning they move you towards your goals as efficiently as possible, we focus instead on being active, AKA “busy.” Many of us even wear it like a badge of pride! Isn’t that weird? Why would we be proud to tell someone that it takes us more work to accomplish something than the next person. Wouldn’t it be more impressive to accomplish our goals with less effort and time worked?
If you agree and would like to accomplish more in less time, what should you do? This part is pretty easy.
First, learn to say “no” more often. If you are currently very busy it can be hard to find the space to analyze what you are doing and make adjustments. So first, you’ll have to say “no” to a few things you typically say yes to.
Start with the obvious, pointless meetings! First, ask yourself if you need to meet in person or if a Zoom chat will suffice. Transitioning just 3 meetings a week to Zoom can easily save you 5+ hours of commute time. Plus, Zoom meetings tend to end when the purpose of the meeting is accomplished, instead of droning on to fill an hour because you have to justify the 45-minute drive to get there!
Next, look at the networking you do. There are likely meetings you attend that don’t yield enough benefit.
Some networking is very impactful. Much is a waste of time. Be honest with yourself and cut out the fluff. After you’ve analyzed your meetings and networking load, consider where else you’re wasting your time. Work tends to expand to fill the time you give it. Try setting up time blocks where you can focus enough to get into a flow state and crank work out. Schedule these when clients are least likely to disrupt you or turn off your phone during those time blocks. If you set the right expectations, your clients will understand that you have a few hours each week where you cannot respond to them.
You’ll likely be shocked at what you can do in a single hour when you simply get down to business.
In the end, the primary thing you need to do here is to develop a habit of asking yourself, “Is this actually creating an impact or just keeping me active?”
Each time you add something to your schedule (and I hope you’re time blocking every day in a schedule/planner that you stick to) you should ask this question. If you aren’t sure of the answer, keep track of the results the next time you do that thing. If it doesn’t seem to have an impact, leave it out next time. Try to be ruthless with your time and deny anything that doesn’t show a clear benefit. As your calendar frees up and your stress reduces, you can go back and add a few things. Remember the 80/20 rule! 80% of what you do is probably producing only 20% of your results. Most of that 80% can be removed!
The more you train yourself to think critically about how you spend your time, the more you’ll enjoy each day! Imagine waking up when you feel well-rested, working through a morning routine that puts you into the perfect mental space, executing on your projects with a steady focus, and finishing each day earlier than ever before with even better results! That’s all possible if you challenge yourself to be impactful instead of just active!
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