Sometimes, less really is more
Doing more isn't better; doing more of the *right* things is.
Sometimes, less really is more.
Unfortunately, “less” gets a bad rap.
We tend to associate less with a smaller amount, not as much, or to a smaller extent.
And then there’s less than, which means having less importance or value than other people or things.
There’s definitely a negative slant to it, which is why I shied away from using it as my 2023 word.
But lately, I’ve been leaning into and fully embracing the power of intentionally choosing less.
Don’t get me wrong; more can be wonderful.
More is so extra (quite literally), especially when describing something you want or need—more guac, quality time, or awesome clients.
But more has a downside, too.
Especially when you fall into the trap of believing it’s the only way to make career progress.
Here’s the truth: Doing more isn’t better; doing more of the right things is.
And the best way to stay focused on the right things is to level up your time management skills.
Here are eight ways how:
1. Get clarity on what matters most
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of to-dos and requests, believing that you must do everything now, which seldom is the case. The best time managers know that not all tasks are created equal and get clarity on what matters most before working on anything. A fantastic tool to simplify this process is the Eisenhower Matrix, in which you place to-dos in four boxes: Do it now for urgent and important items, Decide to schedule a time to do it for non-urgent but important tasks, Delegate it to someone else for urgent but unimportant things, and Delete items that are neither urgent nor important.
2. Eliminate distractions so you can focus
It’s hard to be productive when many things are vying for your attention. To maximize your time management, turn off your social media notifications, click out of tabs on your computer, and put your phone on airplane mode. You can also close your door or put on noise-canceling headphones. Do whatever it takes to remove distractions to help you focus on the matter at hand.
3. Resist the urge to multi-task
Multi-tasking destroys clarity, which is essential for productivity. Worse, it promotes a sense of “time creep,” where you lose track of your precious asset in an attempt to do more. To combat this and get the most out of your time, switch to mono-tasking, where you’re singularly focused on the most important and urgent thing. Then, tackle the next most important but less urgent task after you complete that.
4. Don’t try to do it all
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your time. If there’s something outside your wheelhouse or a task you despise doing, consider outsourcing it. From accounting to lead generation (or even social media ghostwriting), if there’s a need, there’s a niche of hyper-focused talent available to serve it.
Another time-saver is to use systems and tools for recurring tasks. A little time spent initially setting up things like scheduling software or automating your monthly invoicing will save you much more time later.
5. Batch routine tasks
Some of the biggest time wasters are those everyday tasks like checking social media or responding to emails. Batch routine tasks by carving out specific times in his day for them—and then communicate that to others. For emails, try using an auto-responder message that says, “Thanks for your message. I check my emails twice a day on weekdays, at 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. If your matter is urgent, please call me at 555-555-5555.” This lets people know that you will respond, provides another way to contact you if something is really important, and, more importantly, allows you to manage your time effectively.
6. Leverage the power of FAQs
Compile a list of your frequently asked questions (FAQs) and highlight a section on your website that addresses those queries. Also, include questions you’re routinely asked about a service you don’t offer. This helps people quickly understand what you do and who you serve, which will attract your ideal customers (and dissuade the less-than-ideal ones) and prevent you from wasting time speaking with someone you can’t help.
7. Work with your body’s natural rhythms
In his book, WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel Pink explains that each of us has a “chronotype” — a personal pattern of circadian rhythms that influences our physiology and psychology. We each follow a three-stage day that includes either a peak-trough-rebound pattern (if you’re an early bird or “lark”) or the reverse, a rebound-trough-peak pattern (if you’re a night owl). Pink found that regardless of your chronotype, you should do your most important work (whether that’s creative or analytical) during your peak period and your second-most important work in your rebound period. So save the mundane tasks for your trough.
8. Protect your time
If you find yourself always agreeing to things you wish you hadn’t, that are unnecessary, and that burn through your precious time, you need to learn to say no. The best leaders are available for their teams and clients within reason but establish and maintain healthy boundaries. You’re not obligated to be on 24/7, so limit your availability. This also means empowering the smart people you’ve hired to do their jobs without you and trusting them to keep you in the loop, which frees you up to focus on and say yes to what matters most.
Here’s how this not-so-hidden ghostwriter managed some of her time recently…
Most of you know my written work, but I’ve also partnered with Forbes for the last three years to turn my articles into Leadership Lessons videos.
This season, we shot a total of four videos. I’m excited to share that my first—on five simple ways to transform your career mindset in 2023—was selected to kick off the new season.
(And yeah, that luxurious space I’m standing in is the world headquarters of AmyBlaschka.com.)
And speaking of years, do you know my biggest career lesson of 2022?
In my latest Forbes article, I share three reasons why.
And since we’re on the topic of saying no…
What you vow to *stop* doing can be even more powerful than what you resolve to do.
ICYMI, in a recent Forbes article, I shared the five best career anti-resolutions you need to make in 2023.
P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or intentionally doing less, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders craft their stories to communicate and connect better, magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
P.P.S. Now that we’re inbox-exclusive (love that about us!), why not follow my musings across the interwebs on Forbes, LinkedIn (be sure to hit the 🔔 in the top right corner of my profile to get notified when I post!), Twitter, and Instagram too?
And since you’re clearly a fan of newsletters, be sure to subscribe to my weekly one on LinkedIn, m o m e n t u m, featuring insights to help you maintain positive motion and continually grow your career.
P.P.P.S. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this one by clicking the blue button.
While you’re at it, be sure to check out the archives to catch up on previous issues, and feel free to share this one with your friends using the button below. Or better yet, invite them to join our Illuminate Me tribe!