The Art of Doing Less to Achieve More
Ever found yourself missing a family event or working late just to keep up with the tasks you have to do in your business?
If the answer is yes then this blog is for you. You see, all of us think at some time in our working life that doing loads HAS to the be the answer to success, less = no work, more activity = more cash, right? Well I think it’s fundamentally flawed thinking. As a fairly old (almost 60) ex lawyer I remember when we used to be paid by the word, minute and hour, our worth was measured in the hours we billed and how much of that billing hit the firm’s bank account ie not disputed or a bad debt.
You are worth more than cash
That is not how we measure ourselves of course, nor is it, in 2020, an enlightened way to run a business when this year has taken the whole world and shaken it up and our personal and business lives with it. Working yourself into the ground burning both ends of the day and not feeling worthy unless you are in front of your PC tapping out more work is a big fat horrible danger signal that your life has got seriously out of kilter.
The way law firm partners thought when I worked in a traditional practice was how much could we flog the staff to earn this month? Do you know how many hours a lawyer works to bill 6 or 7 hours each day? Normally around 10-11 hours. Hardly a shock that by early 2000 (when we did a sharp exit) we saw many lawyers buying camper vans and heading for the hills.
Unprecedented levels of burn out across all professions
This is not just about lawyers though, you can insert any professional title in there and its the same, our internet obsession and the change of business to be 24/7 or at least operate always 7 days a week via a 12 hour day have changed the rules. We are not clear – I think – on what is expected of us any longer or how to manage the new way of working which means we can work any time without it being all of our time. That is my big question and one I have asked myself repeatedly, I have some but not all of the answers, my life is a journey but I can share what I have learned so far and what is working for me.
Examine your thinking
You need to look at doing things better and handling less using a higher brain function ie thinking and evaluating what to do, so its done once and right so you are not reacting and just processing your ‘to do’ list. Your ‘to do’ list also never ends, it just gets longer with more stuff being added daily. Sounds like you? Think again!
If you have a long ‘to do’ list and are spending your day worrying about fitting it all in and constantly being given or adding new tasks its time to rearrange your thinking. I use a project book, one of those split into coloured sections so I can use a colour coding for each project area I am working on plus a master board, nothing fancy just an A3 drawing block with all the projects in a big mind map on one page so I can check what is important and what is moving/slipping or needs attention.
For each project I colour code the name so I know a green one is live and underway, a red one is in trouble and needs my attention and the blue one is pending ie I am waiting on for someone else to make progress, violet ones are dreams ie ideas I may or may not revisit but they sure as hell are not having any time now devoted to them so they are on paper but have no flesh or time devoted to them now.
My green, blue and red projects have space in my project book, a page for each project tasks with my main aim written at the top. All of these plans and lists have scheduled time in the diary. If it’s not scheduled it does not happen. This stops reactivity, burn out and stuff getting missed. It also allows me to plan my time accurately around home life, my beloved husband, friends and dogs are always going to come first and have time devoted to them.
Oh yeah, how does that work when the sh*t hits the fan then?
Sh*t happens, ill-health strikes without warning, I went out one Saturday afternoon, fell over and spent over 3 years recovering from a traumatic leg injury needing major surgery and twice weekly physio. I did not miss one day off work, did not lose one client and earned more money the year I was injured than I had done at any time in the last 5 before it. I was super organised, and the schedule enabled others to take over some of my tasks easily without the fuss a disorganised working life can bring. Now in 2020, another type of illness in my family grounded everything to a standstill and I needed to change everything about the way in which I had worked for over 30 years. This sort of framework enables you to do or delegate without the need for full engagement at those times when you are under par or lacking physical and/or emotional energy.
Will you fall off the wagon periodically even if you adopt these systems? Of course, but done regularly and getting you the results you want will make them easier to get back into when something unexpected happens. Fancy some support in getting this sort of plan in your life? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details of courses and programs that would help you sort out your framework and paint a better picture for living in your life and business.