Doing Less To Achieve More – How So? Listen and Find Out

In This Episode…

After a busy week of striving to achieve and learning the lessons of what it takes to be productive.  Today I have decided to experiment with taking things a little easier to see what happens and how I feel.  Some useful results.  Listen to find out more.

Edited Transcript

It’s Michael Tipper and welcome to today’s episode of the Profit Productivity Podcast.

This week has been a really busy week for me. It’s been full on every day. Monday through to Friday has been just packed full of things to do. I have been tracking my time this week, which has been a really interesting exercise.

I’ve been working out what I’ve been doing during the day and comparing that to what I’d planned to do with my daily plan and it’s been really interesting. I’m going to do an episode on that in the near future. The whole week has gone very, very quickly, especially when you’re monitoring your time because it’s amazing how quickly time passes when you’re more aware of how long you have been doing stuff.

Every morning I’ve done my morning meditation and my stretches, had breakfast and then started work. I’ve been using my daily plan tracking my time. It’s been quite interesting to see the deviations from my plan and exploring why those deviations have occurred.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself this week. A lot about my intentions versus my actions and a lot about the things that are working in or not working as the case may be.

As I record this, it’s coming towards the end of Saturday. I thought today I would do something different.

Now my tendency in the past, because I’m a perfectionist and because I’m naturally a hard worker, is for me to just to work and grind really hard. This has often extended into the weekends in the past. So today I thought I’d try something different.

I’ve done two experiments today just to see how things feel.

The first experiment I did this morning. My normal morning routine usually consists of meditation, some breathing exercises, some yoga stretches then a shower and breakfast. This sets me off on the the day really, really well.

But this morning I thought I’d see what happens if I don’t do that. So this morning I got up, just had a shower, had breakfast with no meditation or stretching just to see how that was.

I’ve been doing that routine for a few weeks now in its current form and it’s become a habit. It’s become part of me. And this morning it actually felt quite uncomfortable not doing it. That was a positive thing for me because I recognised this was developing as a habit.

The second experiment I did today is I didn’t follow any plan. I just drifted through the day, chipping away at some of the things I know needed to get done. I did some sorting out, shuffled some paperwork, went for a stroll and just meandered through the day, taking it very, very relaxed.

One of my reasons for experimenting with this is I’m reading an excellent book called “Scrum”, The Art Of Doing Twice The Work In Half The Time by Jeff Sutherland who was the co-creator of SCRUM. In his book there’s a great chapter called “Waste Is A Crime” that looks at how human beings tend to be very wasteful in the work we do.

When I analyse my time tracking results, I’ll be able to see just how effective my application and my focus has been during the day.

One of the things that Jeff talks about in this chapter of his book is that as much as 85% of a day is wasted in the business world with less than 15% being truly productive. He talks about the paradox of working less to achieve more. This is something I sometimes struggle to get my head round.

He tells a story about a colleague who was given some advice a long time ago by someone who worked in a consultancy where the ethos was to work 15, 16, 17 hours a day, seven days a week. Out of religious necessity, this person only worked six days a week in that environment.

Because his firm tracked everyone’s output he realised he actually outperformed most of the people who were working seven days. So he pushed it a little and then started working only five days and his output went up.

Now as someone who has worked hard all my life putting in extensive hours in all sorts of things I’ve done and achieved some quite good results (though often at a personal cost!), I struggle a little with that paradox.

Today has been a small experiment with that paradox.

At the moment, I’m working on a project that I’m quite passionate about and part of that project is looking at becoming more effective and more productive. I think burnout is a problem for a lot of us. The societal norms and expectations that we should be “nose to the grindstone” working really, really hard in order to achieve results drives really destructive behaviours when it comes to our own wellbeing.

The ability to be able to achieve the same or more in less time is something I’m looking at. Which is why today I’ve done without a plan.

It’s been really interesting to see how I have felt today. I have been relaxed. Certainly the pressures of the week have eased off today.

There’s been a part of me that has felt guilty by not throwing myself at my tasks on a day when I am less likely to be interrupted because everyone else is taking the day off.

But by the same token, there’s a part of me thinking actually it’s quite nice not to have to do that even though there are things that need to be done.

I think what’s going to happen is the relative relaxation and the mental break I’m giving myself today means that my energy and my mental batteries are recharging. And so when I come back to work next week when it’s going to be full on every day then I will be more refreshed for that.

In the past I’ve experienced working really hard for days and even weeks on end, and have become exhausted.

My experiment is to see if I can find a balance for myself that allows me to rest and recuperate, recharge my batteries, and yet still operate at a high level by the standards I’m going to be setting for myself.

So that’s Today’s episode.

It’s been about experiments and I think moving forward, I’ll be doing more of these experiments to gauge and find what is right for me.

If you were to take anything from this episode, it isn’t so much what I have done, but the fact that I’m willing to experiment, see the results and adjust accordingly. In the past I might’ve said, you need to do this technique or you need to do that technique.

But today really the only thing I can say to do if you’re looking to improve, is to develop the self awareness of what is working for you and what is not. Get clear on what your intentions are. Review what happens, reflect on the result, and revise them accordingly. Which is something I talked about recently in this lesson on learning from experience.

If you iterate through that in all areas of your life, then you’ll start to push back the boundaries of your abilities that will manifest itself in your results and ultimately your success.

I look forward to share more with you tomorrow. Have a great day until then.

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