There are many great articles that tell you what to do in order to get things done. Some advocate very practical steps, like breaking the task into smaller pieces, or delegate more. Others are more high-level, about maintaining discipline or mindfulness and gratitude. For the record, I highly recommend such approaches, and use them myself.
Not doing gives you more time to do
One of the most powerful tools I have found in my quest for greater productivity and effectiveness is to look for what I can stop or avoid doing, since this frees up time and energy which can be used for really important stuff. So, without further ado, if you want to get more done, try not doing the following:
- Pointless email. I know, I know. You think every email you get is important, but really it’s not. Try cutting back checking your email to twice a day, and never look at email first thing in the morning, before you have a chance to set your direction for the day. Why? Most email really isn’t that important, but crafting thoughtful responses takes up a lot of time, and really doesn’t get much done. This is the junk food of the productivity world, it fills you up without nourishing you. This goes for both personal and work email.
- Reading your pointless email during a meeting. As if email isn’t bad enough, now you’re reading it during a meeting, when you should be participating?! Total waste of time, yours and theirs. Get involved or get out.
- Useless meetings If you’re not contributing something or gaining useful insight, then speak up, or get out, or say no next time this person calls one. Chances are you aren’t the only person who thinks that way, so you’ll be seen as a real get-things-done kinda guy or gal.
- Complaining. So yes, it feels good to blow off some steam and vent about the boss, your finances, your spouse, but in the end, it only reinforces a counterproductive mindset: that they are the problem and you are a victim. So just stop. Instead, try to see things from their perspective, and start looking for a solution, instead of griping.
- Watching TV. There are some TV shows that actually improve your ability to get things, but for the most part, TV is an anaesthetic; it zones you out and leaves you more tired, not relaxed. So, rather than watch TV, go out and do something useful, put on some music and straighten up your desk, or write a letter or an article (or that book you’ve always dreamed of!), or practice a musical instrument. Think about it from this angle: no one, on their deathbed, wishes they had watched more TV.
- Hanging around negative people, or people who indulge in the above behaviors. You become more and more like the people you spend time with. Think about that. If you hang around with people who gripe and complain, or who work hard and don’t get much done (or don’t work hard and don’t get much done), you will become, and remain, one of them.