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Work Less, Achieve More

The concept sounds attractive, but can it be done? ‘Work Less, Achieve More’ is actually the title of a book by Fergus O’Connell, an Irishman famous for his project management skills. (No, this is not a joke!). In his book, Fergus uses simple language to outline how applying a few ‘guiding principles’ of time management can actually allow you to achieve more by doing less work. He applies the principles to managing your job, improving the efficiency of your organisation, and, without getting too deep, your life.

Here are the basic principles:

• Work efficiently. Fergus acknowledges the work of David Allen and his Getting Things Done approach as a great starting point. Fergus, and many others, have a great respect for David’s approach to ‘efficient time management’.

• He takes this one step further. He notes that for the vast majority of us, no matter how efficient and organised we are, we will not be able to get through all the work that we believe we need to do. His answer – don’t do some stuff. He calls this ‘extreme time management’! Here’s his ‘filter system’ for doing less – say ‘no’ nicely, but often; prioritise viciously and use a little planning to avoid a lot of ‘firefighting’.

The key to making this system work is knowing what your priorities are. If you have a clear idea of what is important to you, you will know where to focus your time. Things like your health, your family and your livelihood will take priority. Now drill a bit deeper. What are the key elements that drive success in your job? Keeping your existing clients happy is probably high on the list. Finding new clients is probably also important for many. What are the fundamentals of success in your role?

Do you know what is on your ‘Big List’ right now? Take a moment and write it down. If you don’t know, it’s probably a good time to do some deep thinking.

How many things on your current ‘to do’ list are crucial to achieving these things, how many are ‘sort of’? Cross the ‘sort of’ jobs off right now. Do the ‘vital few’, turn off the lights, go home and take the dog for a walk.

One of the ‘vital few’ things you should do each day is plan for the following day. Make sure that whatever is on the top of your list is the #1 priority for the next day. Fergus gives this tip for determining your top priorities. “I have to get this done today. Planets will collide, stars will fall from the sky, bosses/wives/my business coach will be grumpy, share prices will nosedive if this thing isn’t done”.

With this insight for you to ponder, I will finish this week’s blog post with a promise to share more next week. Now, what’s next on my list?

Richard Everson
Small Fish Business Coach Murrumbateman
www.smallfish.com.au

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