We've been trained by our corporate overlords to care about giving our hours, even though we'd all be better off organizing our lives around progress.
Track your time
First find out how you’re currently using your time. In episode 288 “Make Better Estimates through Time Tracking,” I provide a time estimate tracking sheet you can use to very quickly track your time use. That will show you the actual tasks you spend your time on. You can find the episode at http://getitdoneguy.com/timetrack.
For each task on the list, ask whether it’s getting results that really move you forward. If not, stop doing that task from here on it. Otherwise, rate how quickly it moves you towards your goals. “Wrote pages of book” would get a high rating. “Rehearsed Neti Pot and pet cat example to make sure it will work for readers” gets a medium rating, since you really could have chosen a simpler example. “Spent 30 minutes on Facebook to get the name of the restaurant that kicked me out for demonstrating my neti pot at the table” gets a low rating.
Your highest rated tasks give you the most progress. Your medium tasks are next, followed by your low tasks.
The key is thinking of work in terms of results, not hours.
Take out a week calendar and decide how long each day you need to spend on each task in order to get your results when you need them. Just write in the tasks to complete on the days of the week. For example, “Write six pages,” “Rehearse one example,” and “Have assistant look up name of restaurant.”
Now mentally redefine your day not as a certain number of hours, but as finishing the daily task lists you just created. If it turns out that you can’t finish each day’s tasks in eight hours, then you’re overworked, and are being exploited by your late-stage capitalist oppressors. Very sad. Write a book about it, and if it becomes a best-seller, you can quit that horrible job and hit the lecture circuit.
Otherwise, once you’re done with the daily task list, you’re done. A day’s work is defined in terms of results, not hours. You’ve gotten the results. Consider the day over and go play!
Speed date your tasks
Of course, our daily task lists probably contain several tasks that, well, you just don’t want to do. Attack those using speed-dating, described in episode 149, speed date your tasks to build momentum at GetitDoneGuy.com/speeddate It’s a way to rapidly cycle between tasks you’ve been procrastinating until you build up the momentum to finish.
The key to today’s tip isn’t the specific techniques. Tracking your time, filtering your tasks, and then speed dating, are just icing on the cake. The cake, which is definitely an Oreo ice cream cake, is to learning to think of a day’s work in terms of results rather than hours. When you’ve achieved the day’s results, you’re done. When you’re on vacation and thinking about what needs to be done, you can mentally check off all the results you’ve achieved, and you will have added results that are needed to future daily checklists. It’s all about results, yes results, not hours!
I’m going to start working this way and will let you know how it goes. With luck, my life will become oriented around results, both professional and personal. And if I define today’s work as finishing my Get-it-Done Guy episode, then I’m done! Bring on the chocolate sauce. Drizzled!
This is Stever Robbins. If you want to know more about me (and of course you do), visit http://SteverRobbins.com .
Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!