People ask me all the time how I get so much done.
The answer is simple – and complex.
The SIMPLE version of the answer is:
I love what I do, and I work hard at it.
No rocket science there. And it’s the truth, a 60 hour week is a snack for me. And no, that doesn’t mean there’s no time for “me” or my family or friends. Yes, I am busy but scheduling, and priorities will be a story for another day.
For the past six years I’ve been the CEO of a regionally based not for profit at the same time keeping my own business which delivers community consultation and education services on the boil. During this time my three children have been the central part of this juggle, now two have finished school – one to go. In my spare time I try to pull out weeds on my 5 acre property, luckily my alpaca collection helps. It’s true, I do get a lot done. But there is no ‘super mum’ nor magic to my formula,. It’s not ONLY about hard work either.
There is a much more COMPLEX set of variables that also contribute to my productivity, and they are probably not what you are expecting:
- I’m motivated and make sure I stay that way: There are many different things that motivate me in work, all of them very aligned to my core values. I know when my motivation slips I need to take extra care of my health and I have a variety of techniques to address this up my sleeve.
- Aligned with a greater purpose: I have chosen a career pathway which enables me to do things that make the lives of other people (and by proxy me) better. What a privilege is that ! When the work gets hard I remind myself of people in my community and know the projects I work on will create lasting change for. This also keeps me motivated – it’s bigger than me.
- I value my time: I value every, single moment of my time and have a deep sense of gratitude for life. It really, really annoys me when people try to waste my time and I often avoid meetings (and people) that I know (through experience) will waste precious moments.
- I use every, single minute: It’s really amazing what can be done in 5 minutes. Add up the 5 minute sprints through the day and that’s a good time gain.
- I work when I’m switched on: Granted this doesn’t always work out, particularly with a busy meeting schedule. However, I generally try to make sure I have nothing scheduled between 7am-920am in the morning – that’s exercise and kid time: and that 3pm-6pm (more kid time) are free or I’m not needing to do heavily focused work. This works well for me because I’m more productive before 7am (when I’m in that zone) and after 8pm. (side note: This is just one of the reasons a traditional corporate role didn’t ever work out for me – argh ! 9-5 not for me).
- I don’t subscribe to work-life balance mythology: Sometimes there’s work to be done, sometimes life has a stronger calling. The key (in my mind) is to have the flexibility to lean into whichever calls at the time, and to hear the calling before it’s an emergency.
- Energy boosters: I make sure there are energy boosters spread throughout my week. It could be a meeting with a person I know will lift my energy levels, or perhaps some down time for a hair cut, or sometimes a massage. If I’m having a really low energy week I act accordingly, I’m not fond of pushing the proverbial up a hill – some days just aren’t meant for work.
- Curiosity: I LOVE learning new things and learn every single day. I listen to a variety of podcasts every day (and often at night while I sleep). I also make sure I have conversations with people who can fill in information gaps, and make sure I’m thinking outside of my silo. My favourite way to learn though is to get my hands dirty – to test things out, to do site visits and see how things work. My curiosity exposes me to a variety of new thinking, new ways, new systems most days. My curiosity exposes me to a variety of new thinking, new ways, new systems most days. While the exploration of curiosity can take time, ultimately I find that it pays quick dividends as I learn to do something faster, a new time saving system, or meet someone who can do something better than me (and I can partner with the person or delegate). It also keeps my brain agile and if you’ve seen what I’ve seen that’s VERY important.
- I say no: What was once a difficult little word to say I now understand its’ importance and use it often.
- I delegate the things I’m not good at: I haven’t touched a BAS Statement in my business for well over 15 years. Yes, I can add up, yes, I understand my financials. No, I don’t want to do it. Same goes for graphic design and while I’m OK enough on Canva I really appreciate good design and know that it will never be ME that creates it.
- I make it my business to work with good people: It’s taken me almost a lifetime to learn and believe that I have every right to surround myself with good people and only good people. It’s a pleasure to watch what can be achieved in a drama free zone where people are playing to their strengths. THAT environment keeps everyone productive (and happy).
- Typing: Of all the skills I learned early on in my career I have to say that typing has been the most useful. My typing speed enables me to easily record meetings, throw down ideas, pull together strategies and plans and (at some stage soon write a book) There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t type something at work and knowing. If I’m typing committee or board minutes they are completed and sent before I leave the room.
- Habits: While I cannot claim that I have a whole swag of great habits to enable my productivity (working on it). One I CAN claim is my journal. I keep a paper journal and it comes with me everywhere I go. It records ideas, meetings, actions. If I must do something I write an A next to it, and every now and then review it to make sure I’m doing what I’ve promised. If I don’t have a clear recollection of a meeting the notes are right there for me and I can get back on track. This has been the most stable habit of my working life, and it works.
- Set goals and focus on them: Generally I hit my work goals out of the park. Why? Because it’s what I focus on. At the start of each year I set out a range of goals which I measure as the year progresses. This gives me something a bit bigger than the day to day to plan out and look forward to. It also keeps me motivated.
- I don’t have a television connected. Yes, there is Netflix but staring mindlessly at ‘the box’ is one time waster I’ve avoided for many years now.
Do you get a lot done? Tell me more about your techniques in the comments.