It's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. – Steve Jobs
It seems to be the mantra everywhere lately – do more, be more, produce more, create more….!
It all gets a bit exhausting, frankly.
I see it all the time in myself, and in my clients: do gooders just want to do more good! It's in their DNA. Which usually means doing more.
Hmm, unless it doesn't….
Until someone finally creates time travel, the best method I know for actually getting more things done is to create clear boundaries or limits.
Because, to paraphrase one of my kids' teachers, the best way to make an angry person is to give them no limits.
While many of us value freedom, we also usually need some limits on either our time, our commitments or even some of our tools to actually feel and be more productive.
As a trainer long ago said to me, we actually broaden our appeal when we narrow our approach.
If you're ready to bust the myth of doing it all, try this:
1) Get on your own calendar. You'd move mountains to be sure not to miss a meeting with your boss, a valued collaborator or a client or constituent. Hold meeting time with yourself in the same high regard. Create standing weekly time in your schedule for your own thinking, planning and creativity. Hold this time as important and non-negotiable as your most important stakeholder meetings.
2) Turn off your email, or better yet, don't turn even it on. Rather than being a slave to the addictive and distracting nature of email, designate specific times of day that you will read and respond to email, such as 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at the end of the day. If you have an instant read and respond organizational culture, this may be difficult, but remember that we used to survive (and thrive) without this tool.
3) Chunk your time. Use a simple timer on your phone or computer and use short bits of time (like 30 minutes) designated for specific tasks. This works either for unpleasant tasks you avoid – paperwork, administrative tasks – or for the big picture thinking you never get to. Set a timer and only do that task for 30 minutes, nothing else.
4) Re-train others around you. People around you may need some adjustment to this new way of working. Talk about why you're putting some boundaries on your availability, tasks and time and why it matters to you and the organization. Modeling this way of working also can provide inspiration to others to create some limits of their own.
In the Comments below, I want to hear from you!
Let me know what you think of the suggestions above, and share your own tips, tools and techniques you use to get more done through setting limits!
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