The number of hours you work is not nearly as important as what you do while you are working. There are countless people who spend a lot of time at their desk but get less done than others who work a fraction of that time.
“Hours worked” and “outcomes achieved” are two very different metrics.
Fewer, Bigger Priorities
The primary difference in results is found in one’s intentions.
Some people show up to work and wait passively in front of their computer with their email open, sitting in reactive mode to respond to whatever comes their way. These people start work with the intention of doing whatever is required of them. Others direct their work.
People who get more work done in half the time start work with different intentions. They close their web browser and their email program, and they work on the projects and tasks that will produce the results they need to produce right now. They direct their own work.
Productivity is making progress on your biggest priorities. Productivity doesn’t have anything to do with the number of hours you are at work.
Saying No to Small Things
To clear space for your biggest priorities, you have to prevent small things from creeping in and crowding out what’s most important. You have to say “no” to things that won’t help you produce the outcomes you really need.
Email is full of thousands of small things that could command your time. The Internet is a never-ending source of new distractions and the deepest rabbit hole in which you can easily lose yourself—and where you can lose your focus on what’s important.
When you say “yes” to small things, you are saying “no” what’s important.
Less in a Day, More in Week
You can get less done in a single day than you believe you can, but you can get far more done in a week than you think possible.
Blocking three hours a day for your most important projects will transform your results. Those three highly-focused, undistracted hours will allow you to make progress on the outcomes you need regardless of what that outcome may be.
That’s fifteen hours a week on your most important projects. For me, that would be five hours each on my three biggest projects over the course of a week.
Less in a Week, More in a Month
You can get less done in a week than you wish were possible, even if you block time for your most important projects. But you can make exponential progress on your most important projects over the course of a month.
Blocking three hours a day for four weeks is sixty hours. You are unlikely to have any outcome that couldn’t be achieved in sixty hours. If what’s most important to you can’t be achieved in sixty hours, those hours will have moved you much, much closer to the finish line.
For me, those sixty hours end up being invested in many different projects. I tend to overestimate the time it takes me to complete projects by underestimating how much work I can do in short bursts of focused, uninterrupted time.
- What three projects deserve your attention this week?
- What small things and distractions do you need to avoid be productive when it comes to the most important things you need to do?