I spent a few days in Vienna for Christmas. Despite enjoying the beauty of the city and its food, I invested some good time in museums, learning about Austrian Emperors.
During a visit to The Schönbrunn Palace, I dived into the interesting story of Emperor, Franz Joseph I.
Franz Joseph was only 18 years of age when he took the throne. He began work at 5 in the morning. During the course of his long working day, simple meals were served to him at his desk. The emperor, who used to call himself the first public servant of his state, once said: “One must work until one drops from exhaustion!”
I couldn’t stop thinking about all the people in business that unfortunately follow Franz Joseph’s advice (consciously or unconsciously).
Putting in the hours, working until exhaustion is definitely not a good path. You’ll be certainly working hard but not smartly. This is one strong point that we discussed in our end-of-the-year meeting.
We are determined to achieve a lot more this year and work less. Is that possible? Yes. Just have a look at how you spend your daily hours and you’ll find many, many improductive holes. You don’t need more time but direction on how to invest that time better. The decision on how we’ll work in 2011 didn’t happen overnight…
What was the motivation?
Besides the desire to achieve more, we read and analysed:
- “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Success: How to Get What You Want Without Killing Yourself for It” by Earnie Zelinski. I know, it’s not the best title. I wouldn’t have chosen it but it came referred to us. The content is absolutely brilliant. Makes you concentrate on achieving based on what gives you satisfaction and not achieving for the sake of growing the business and making more money. Big difference.
- “Focus” by Leo Babauta. You’ll fine some very good action points on how to get things done effectively.
- Chrisbrogan.com Chris constantly blogs about the “human business”. Every now an then he also writes very interestiong posts about maximising your time and ditching what doesn’t move you forward. Here’s an example.
- sethgodin.typepad.com : Seth Godin’s blog is a MUST-read for every single business professional. You don’t necessarily need to be in the Marketing field. Seth constantly talks about the importance of “shipping” and what feeds our lizard brains, keeping us away from creating the art that matters. Here’s an example.
So, what will change?
Here are a few examples:
- Create an Excel spread sheet with 5 columns, one for each day and come up with daily structure. For example: from 8 to 9 you check and answer emails. In my case, I also publish a new Bloggertone post 🙂 Try to give a name and a specific time to those activities that you perform everyday and then stick to that time slot. For other activities throughout the day, close down your email and set a specific time during the day to check back. Could be after midday and or before COB. Email is one of the worst distractions.
- The same rule you applied to email, also apply it to social networks. Don’t have them running in the background. In order to create remarkable work you must “focus” on setting boundaries of space and time, avoiding any interruptions.
- Meetings: this is a HUGE issue for most of the companies in the world. We waste a lot of time in them so start thinking about the level of importance. Don’t agree to all of them. If you have a weekly meeting, ensure to have it every week on the same day and the same time. Face to face meetings that are not necessary will literally waste all your day. If they are not crucial, do it on Skype and move on.
- Use a project management tool such as Myprojecttracker.com or teamworkpm.net. It takes a bit to get use to it but it pays off big time. You’ll be in absolute control of what you’re working on. It’s also phenomenal to track the work done and time you spent with clients.
I hope the post helps you make the most of your 2011. As Chris said, focus on “what’s going to move you forward”. Are you spending time on anything else that doesn’t impact your bottom line? Think again. What are your tricks to achieve more this year?