Getting More Done – With Less

I am back with another wonderful guest blogger – wise Executive Life Coach Barbara Waxman – who always gives me the best advice. I love this, because it is a great reminder for all of us that we are only human – and need to slow it down way more often than we do.

Do you ever feel like you treat yourself more and more like the technological gadgets upon which you depend?  It is as though we think there is an internal switch to turn ourselves on for the day or the week, hoping that the evening or the weekend will give us enough time to reboot successfully so we can go back at it.  Sometimes I think we keep the busyness of our lives going to avoid those parts of life that are just too hard to think about.  So we avoid. We keep busy and keep going.  And going.

I see a clear and pervasive commonality amongst the coaching clients I see: These highly successful and engaged people are bemoaning their inability to manage their time well, to sustain enough energy and attention to meet the intellectual and physical demands of their work and home life.  Or, they long for a work/home paradigm that they haven’t yet found and feel too depleted to really go after.  There is a better way.

Keep it simple.  We are not meant to run like computers. The truth is that the demands we face continue to increase while our capacity to meet those demands stays the same or even decreases.  We know that and yet we don’t pay attention. We expect ourselves to run at high speeds, continuously for long periods of time, just like the computer on which I’m writing this piece.  Unfortunately, rebooting once a week or so isn’t sustainable.

I’d like to offer you a way to begin to understand how well you are preparing yourself for a highly engaged and energized life.  An excellent way to begin is to take a personal energy audit that assesses the four foundational components that combine to make up your capacity to meet the demands placed on you both at home and work.  Those four broad areas are physical energy, which is made up of training, nutrition, rest and recovery; emotional energy which is comprised of positive and negative aspects directly affecting your ability to focus and innovate; intellectual energy which is eroded by multitasking and information overload; and spiritual/purposeful energy which is comprised of knowing your core values and is effectuated by linking those values to the way in which you live and work.  To access this free tool, go to my website,  I’ll send it to you.

In the meantime, here are some tips to help you act on some of the information:

1. Success comes in 90 minute blocks. Don’t try to focus on any given project for more than that in one sitting.  Work for the ninety and then renew.  What does that renewal look like for you?

2. Know thyself.  What time of day is your best in terms of energy and focus?  Typically it is in the morning.  Most of us put off those conversations or projects which are emotionally or intellectually challenging.   We actually end up procrastinating and waiting until our capacity for this task is at its lowest.  Take on at least one challenging item on your to-do list when you energy is at its peak.  You’ll see that when you accomplish something important early in the day you feel successful; it shows and it positively enhances just about everything else.

3. Create an environment that brings out the best in you.  Make sure that your home and work environment include elements that are core to you.  A piece of art? photographs? quotes?  Know what helps you get centered.  Know what makes you smile and put it front and center.

4. Create positive habits.  We often think of habits as being negative and hard to change.  Habits can be positive, and we need them!  Positive habits are just as hard to break as those negative habits we complain about.  Those who exercise regularly, for example, somehow are able to do so even when they are as busy as everyone else.  Why?  It’s a habit.

5. Know what makes your heart sing and act on it.  Whether it is volunteering or regularly making connections with someone you care about, emotional energy affects everything we do in a very powerful way.  The glue that holds everything together is happiness and connection.   Make sure to put those high on your priority list!


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