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Last Updated on January 30, 2018

One Question That Will Help You Refocus and Achieve Greatness at Work

One Question That Will Help You Refocus and Achieve Greatness at Work

These days, people are working more, and feeling more stressed — yet still have significant financial concerns and feel behind. Research conducted by Groupon has talked about how people perceive their work-life balance.[1] Here are some of the findings:

  • 20% of the respondents said they worked 10 hours/day.
  • 60% of the respondents said there wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything.
  • 50% said workload was preventing them from work-life balance.
  • 53% said they still had significant financial concerns.
  • On a 1-10 scale, stress at home averaged a 5; at work, it averaged a 6.4.

That’s a lot of stress — but people still have financial concerns. What gives? How can we make this situation better?

Ask yourself a new question

    Chris Bailey, the author of The Productivity Project experimented with different techniques to help him organize and prioritize tasks. By modifying another productivity guru Brian Tracy’s approach, he arrived at this critical question:

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    “If you could just do one thing on a day, every day, what would you do that would allow you to accomplish the most with the same amount of time?”

    When you’ve got the answer for yourself, repeat the question but in a slightly different way: “If you could do only two more things all day, what second and third tasks let you accomplish the most in the same amount of time?”

    Not all tasks are created equal

      There are certain tasks in any job that, for every minute you spend on them, you can now accomplish more on other tasks.

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      Consider a project manager. They should be designing project workflow. Checking email is less important or almost a distraction. Customer service support, though? They should be checking email — and answering phones.

      Checking off many items on a list means nothing if nothing great was actually accomplished. This in some ways is the difference between “busy” and “productive.” When you’re spending time on things that matter, that is being productive. When you’re just checking off to-do list items, that oftentimes is just being “busy.” There’s no end game contribution.

      But when you spend more time and energy on items of significance, you accomplish more in the same amount of time — and by definition you are becoming more productive.

      Define your top priority task every day

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        By asking the critical question “If you could just do one thing on a day, every day, what would you do that would allow you to accomplish the most with the same amount of time?” you will be able to identify the most important task at the moment.

        Once the top priority task is defined, review your work progress every day by asking these Did I get done what I intended to? Did I invest enough time, attention, and energy in the right things?

        These questions will help you to evaluate your progress and it’s a self-check of whether you got distracted or remained focused on the most important things. This review also helps you to prepare a better plan for the next day.

        It all begins with defining priorities and what is truly important. Almost every day is going to have a personal or professional task that needs to come first above all. Isolate that task and work on what matters most. Achieve significant greatness even if you ignore 40 emails.

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        Most of life is about defining priorities

        Knowing your priority is the pathway to a more consistently successful version of self. Ask yourself the critical question to identify the one thing that matters most and design what you work on and focus towards around the answers. You are going to be more productive within days.

        Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Leon Ho

        Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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        Last Updated on November 14, 2018

        Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out

        Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out

        Do you find yourself constantly feeling busy? Or, maybe you feel like you have too much on your plate? Perhaps you have a to-do list with no end in sight, or many responsibilities to juggle on a daily basis at work. When you get home, you have household responsibilities to take care of, too, and it just seems like you never have much time for a breather.

        Being busy is good, it’s better than not having anything to do and letting time slip away. But, what many people don’t realize is, being busy doesn’t always mean you’re being productive. The more time you take to complete something does not equal to more success. Many people end up falling into this trap as they pack their day with tasks and errands that may sometimes produce little outcome or output for the effort that they’ve put in.

        For example, let’s say that your washing machine at home broke down and you need to fix it. Instead of calling the handyman to come, your husband decides he’s going to fix the machine. He ends up spending half a day figuring out the machine, and does eventually fix it. He did however have to make a trip to the tool shop to buy some extra tools and parts for the machine. Now, if you had called the handy man, it would probably have taken the handyman much less time, and he would have all the necessary tools and parts already, because that is his job. So in this instance, was your husband’s time and effort worth it? Oh, and because he took half the day fixing the machine, you now had to take over his duties of dropping the kids off at soccer and swim practice.

        We Need Not Be That Busy

        I hope you would agree, that it would have been ideal to delegate this task to the handyman. That would have saved you time and effort, so that you and your husband could focus on doing other things that were more important to you, like being there for your kids or spending time with each other. This is just one example of how we often impose busyness on ourselves without us even realizing it.

        But, I’m going to show you just how you can gain quality time from external sources. Whatever big goals or ambitions that you may have, it’s normal for them to involve a lot more of your time than you first expect. I’m talking about things like starting a new business, changing careers, perhaps even moving to a new city. New challenges often involve things that are outside of our experience and expertise, so covering all the bases ourselves is sometimes not feasible as it takes too much time to learn and do everything.

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        You Are Just One Person

        At the end of the day, you are just one person, and you have a limited amount of time. So, you have to do things that are meaningful to you. While an overall goal may be meaningful, not all of the milestones needed to get there may be meaningful. Because we all have our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, not every task will be enjoyable or all fun & games. Some simply require pure willpower and discipline to grind through. And that is where delegation comes in.

        What is Delegation?

        You may hear this term a lot in the business or corporate world; it’s an effective way for managers to distribute (or sometimes avoid!) work. But, that’s not what I’m referring to. Instead, delegation means leveraging time from an outside source to give you opportunities to increase your quality time. By outside source, we simply mean that it’s not your own time that you’re spending.

        What Should You Delegate?

        To delegate effectively, it has to be done with deliberate intention. So the aim of delegation is to create more quality time for yourself. There are 3 types of tasks that you should generally delegate, called the Delegation Triangle.

        The first are tasks you don’t enjoy doing. These are things that you know how to do, but don’t enjoy. Second, are tasks you shouldn’t do. These are things you know how to do and may even enjoy, but may not be the best use of your time. Third, are tasks you can’t do. These are things that need doing, but you don’t have the skills or expertise to follow through with them at this moment.

        Have a look through your daily tasks and responsibilities, and see if you can fit them under these 3 categories.

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        Pitfalls of Delegation

        Using the Delegation Triangle, you can decide which tasks are worth delegating. In theory, it might look easy to sort actions at first glance; but often, it’s actually harder than you think! 

        One such example, is diverting time on tasks you shouldn’t do. Let’s go back to the washing machine example. Your husband decides to fix it on his own instead of simply getting an expert to fix it. Why? Because it’s probably a challenge he enjoys, and it’s an accomplishment that would bring him satisfaction. However, if the value of the task is too low, you really ought to delegate it to others.

        Sometimes, when you have a larger goal in mind, you might have to sacrifice some actions in return for making progress. Always think about the bigger picture! One thing that can help you avoid this pitfall is to keep your deadlines in mind whenever you set milestones for a project or task.

        Deadlines are a commitment to yourself, and every bit of time is precious. So if an activity you’re focusing on is taking time away from progress towards your goal, it may be time to let go of it for now. You can always decide to pick it up again later.

        Then there’s the other extreme of delegation. And that’s when you start delegating everything you dislike doing to external sources.Sometimes it’s tempting to abuse delegation and get carried away outsourcing everything on your “don’t like doing” list.

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        Some people are too picky on what they’re going to do. But sometimes, if you don’t like doing so but you’re the only one who can do it, you still need to finish the job. At the end of the day, it does take your own hard work and effort to achieve the success you want.

        So if you find that you’re constantly running into this problem of over delegating, then it may be time to re-evaluate your motivation, or reason for doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

        Ask yourself, “Is this task contributing towards a meaningful objective that I want to achieve?” and “what kind of progress do I make each time I carry out the task myself?” If the task is both meaningful and creates progress, then the next step is to ask yourself questions that can help you create actions.

        What obstacles are causing you to avoid this task? Is it because of low confidence in your ability? Do you think someone else can do a better job? Is it your level of focus? Or is there an alternative action you can take that can produce the same results?

        Take Action Now

        Take a look at your current tasks or to-do’s that you have planned this week. Which tasks are possible candidates that fall under the Delegation Triangle? Are there any that fall under the pitfalls mentioned above? Which tasks can you immediately identify that should be delegated out right now?

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        I hope this exercise helps declutter your tasks and responsibilities a little and allows you to see how much more time you can be saving for more important things. But, this is not the end of delegation. After you’ve sorted out the tasks that can be delegated, the next step is to determine who it should be delegated to. Besides people like your co workers, or spouse/family members, did you know that there is a whole delegating industry out there?

        If you’re keen to learn more about this delegating industry, and find out how you can decide who’s the best fit to do your delegated tasks, subscribe to our newsletter today. We will help you discover many more skills that will boost your productivity by leaps and bounds!

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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