Do you love work hacks that help you get things done faster? Me too. After all it’s Friday, as I write this. I love my job but sometimes I feel like Fred Flintstone waiting to slide down and punch the clock, so I can go for a walk and then get home to watch Netflix with Wilma. Maybe even catch up for a beer with Barney. My point is, even if you love your job, a break is healthy and if there’s one thing the pandemic has highlighted, it’s that we all need to get a life.
Get things done, fast
Here are a few work hacks to help you get things done and leave the office early today:
Find the domino
Tim Ferriss came up with the idea of the domino, which is the single most important decision that makes 100 others irrelevant. Start your day by finding that key decision that will tip the odds in your favour.
Batch similar work
I’ve written in my book, Time to Start, that every task comes with a switching cost. That’s the time it takes to start work on something new, the time it takes to physically swicth, to prepare what you need and to adjust your focus on the new task at hand. For this reason, you should batch similar tasks together. Consider allocating 90 minute chucks to just make phone calls, manage email communication or work on a specific project.
Ask who, not how
Recently I listened to self-made Billionaire Dean Gaziosi talk live at a Tony Robbins event. Dean said, if you want to make things happen, you need to stop thinking how you are going to get it done. Instead, you need to start thinking about who can hep you get it done. This is one of those work hacks you don’t need to be a billionaire for. There is already people waiting to help you if you know where to look.
Done is better than perfect
High standards and perfectionism are not the same thing. Deciding what is important in a project, will help you determine those parts that need to be done to a high standard. Not everything will. Some parts of a project that might seem important at first, may turn out to be a waste of time. For example, Apple’s first iPod shuffles were missing some features found on a traditional tape or MP3 player. Clearly the market considered thos missing features less important than the convenience and portability of the new device.
I know this might sound obvious… but if you can arrive before the phone starts ringing, before people start texting you, pinging you, dropping by your desk and inviting you for the morning coffee, you will get more done. I can get more done in the first 3 hours, before everyone arrives, than I do in most 8 hour work days. I’m not suggesting you need to be at work this early every day… but if you feel snowed under, it’s a great way to get things done.
Plan your approach
In the old days, when people used to drive to the office, I could plan out my whole day in my head before I even looked at a computer. Somehow, most of my biggest problems were sorted with just 30 minutes of quiet time in the car. Now, with so many people working from home, it’s easy to just jump on the computer and start work, without any pause to consider how it’s done. Instead, start your day with a notepad and write down what you want to achieve and then, the best approach to do so.
Hold a standing meeting
The most productive meetings I have ever attended, were standing meetings. Standing in the board room (or in front of Zoom) set the tone that this would be quick. We would go around the team and each person what state what their single most important focus was for that day. That’s not to say, other things wouldn’t get done… but it was the domino you were telling the rest of the team about. Others would then offer helpful solutions to help you achieve your daily goal.
Single task focus
When you need to complete a complex task or one where you require real brain power to finish it, focus on that single task. Multi-tasking has been proven, time and time again, to be less effective for these complex tasks than single tasking. Really? You’re checking your social media notifications while you’re reading this post aren’t you? Yeah, I’m watching.
Skip the news
I know the routine. Check the news first thing when you sit at your desk. News is not completely unproductive is it? After all, it’s not social media. It’s not idle chat. These are real, hard facts about what’s happening in the world. The downside is we have 24 hour news cycles and it’s not all good news. You can spend the first hour of your work day learning about all the injustice in the world. Imagine the tone that sets for your workday. Not to mention, most of these matters are not in your control. Focus on what you can control first, otherwise you will go down the never ending rabbit warren of online news.
Leave some undone
You might think I’m going to hell for saing this but some things you can leave undone. When you get things done, which are most important first, you can leave the less important things undone. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that will happen if this does not get done today? Or at all? If the answer is nothing or you can easily live with the consequences, dump it.
Enjoy your weekend
None of these work hacks are magic, however, few of us consciously structure our time in this way. A little bit of effort making the right decisions and planning your workday, can save you a lot of effort through the day. Get things done and then tell your boss I said you can go home. You’re welcome.