Ok. Seriously. I’m laying in my back yard hammock for a few minutes this morning (yes, it’s a work day…Friday). And, I can’t deny that I’m feeling guilty for doing it. I have a mound of work to complete. But, I’m trying to practice what I preach with my “Do Less. Achieve More.” post last Sunday. So, here’s a brief highlight of my experience this week in practicing those tips!
– Focus on the important tasks first. At the beginning of every day – and sometimes the night before – I spent 30-60 minutes getting my game plan set for the day. I can’t tell you what a huge difference this made. Knowing the top 3 things that MUST get done kept me razor-sharp focused. Most days, I accomplished those priorities before lunch. It helped me: say no to a lot of things, let my phone go to voicemail, and check email later (and far less frequently). Those micro interruptions are tempting, powerful derailers!
– Single-tasking. This was one of my greatest areas of practice this week. And what a difference it made! One exercise I tried was walking away from my computer and other distractions while on the phone with clients, friends, and family. I intently focused on my “subject” and our conversation. The outcome? I really ‘heard’ what they had to say. Imagine that! I was focused, engaged, and the call was often shorter because of it. And more meaningful. I’ll bet they noticed too.
– Eliminate non-essential commitments. I’m a natural-born networker and relationship builder. I both love it and hate it. I am attracted to invitations to lunch, coffee, wine, etc. like a mosquito to one of those bug lanterns. Before I know it, I can meet with people all day long and have nothing to show for it at five o’clock except great conversation and a small stack of business cards. This week, I found myself more mindful and purposeful as I said yes – and no – to such invitations. Dare I say, I was far more “strategic.” For me, it’s absolutely critical to be discriminating in choosing whether or not to commit to these engagements. By doing so, I focus my time and energy on what’s most important and matters most to my goal achievement.
– Step away and take a break. See? I’m doing that right now! Even if only for a few minutes – relaxing in a hammock, shooting a few hoops with my son, walking around the block, or going for a quick noon-time run – the brief respite gives me volumes of energy and joy in exercising my choice (remember that?) to just breathe and enjoy a few moments of “me” time. I return to my work and can perform it better, faster, and with a fresh perspective and ideas I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Try it! Seriously. (And stop making up the story you tell yourself: “I don’t have time.” Because you do.)
I’ve had fun with this “Do Less. Achieve More.” theme this week. Talk about immediate gratification! A little practice went a long way in delivering some powerful results. What’s working for you?
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Jeanie is President of Raven Consulting Group, a business she founded that focuses on organizational change and leadership development in the nonprofit sector. She is a senior consultant for TransitionGuides, a national firm working with nonprofit clients to lead efforts in sustainability and succession planning, executive transition and search. Additionally, Jeanie serves as adjunct faculty for the Center for Creative Leadership, a top-ranked, global provider of executive leadership education.