How to Get More Work Done in a Week Than Most People Do in a Month

There’s no single hack for getting more work done in less time, but instead a host of habits, and work systems can produce the best return on your time.

Getting more work done is about knowing what to do, when to do it, and how to get it done in the shortest possible time to maximise the little time you have everyday.

It means means choosing tasks that strategically align with your work objectives.

It’s the ratio between input and output.

Is everything really urgent?

What are the most important actions you can take today that will get your closer to your work goals in the shortest possible time?

Imagine the repercussions of choosing to do urgent (but not important) tasks instead of focusing on important actions.

“The secret to mastering your time is to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency.”

Oliver Emberton said that.

It’s profound and so true.

Urgency wrecks productivity.

Urgent but unimportant tasks are major distractions.

In 1954, former U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower said,

“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

Separating important tasks from urgent ones is a problem for many people.

The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.

Urgent tasks put us into constant “reply mode.”

They are distractions.

Important work are tasks we have planned that move goals.

Our brains are so drawn to urgency that we choose “objectively worse options over objectively better (important) options.

To maximise time and do more focused work, question your choices constantly, and develop the ability to watch your mind as it gets whipped up by sudden requests.

When a task you have not planned to do falls onto your plate, ask yourself:

“Is this really important?”

And then think about not only how, but when, to best handle it.

What’s on your plate?

When you try to tackle too many tasks everyday, you will be overwhelmed and achieve less.

When everything is important, you will be tempted to skillfully juggle multiple priorities at the same time, and your productivity suffers in the process.

It pays to prioritise your tasks and work on the most important ones first thing in the morning, when you are most active.

“Even if everything on your plate is supposed to be equally important, you still need a way to break down which ones you spend your time on, and how you slice up your time,” says Alan Henry of Lifehacker

Whenever you are faced with a lot to do, take a step back to recognise the rushed mindset and its consequences.

Instead of rushing to get them done at the same time, start by asking yourself:

“Is this really important?”

And then think about not only how, but when, to best handle it.

Ultimately, the goal should be to question your choices constantly, and to develop the ability to recognise tasks that just distract you from your real work.

Stop feeding your distractions

Interruptions like notifications, loud noises, social media, someone knocking on your door, and switching to check emails every now and then, break your flow.

They interrupt your concentration.

They’re just enough to pull your focus away and make you have to start over.

Anytime you are pulled away from your tasks, it takes time to readjust to them when you jump back in — up to 25 minutes in many cases.

Your life keeps diminishing while you waste your time feeding your distractions.

Successful people prioritise! They focus! They disconnect from everything else to get tasks done.

Beware of deceptive time-wasting activities that disguise themselves as work; Lengthy discussions with colleagues, long meetings and treating other people’s work as “emergencies” when you should be concentrating on your high-value work.

Writing in the first century, Seneca was surprised by how little people seemed to value their lives as they were living them — how busy, terribly busy, everyone seemed to be, and wasteful of their time.

He noticed how even wealthy people hustled their lives along, ruing their fortune, anticipating a time in the future when they would rest.

In his book (translated by John W. Basore), “On the Shortness of Life,” Seneca offers powerful insights into the art of living. He observed, “It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”

“Life is long if you know how to use it,” he counselled.

Take control of your time and start distributing it right.

Start by reviewing your daily routine.

Track your daily activities for some time to clearly see where your time is being spent. Meetings, phone calls, emails, notifications, small chats, and many other distractions are constantly splitting your attention.

Record ALL your appointments, deadlines, and everything in-between.Analyse the actual time you spend on each activity with what you think is the best amount for each.

Schedule the heck out of your days. Schedule everything in advance.

Make a plan and know what’s going on each day.

This helps you figure out how you’re spending your time

Notice where time leaks, then declutter your routine.

Stop doing busywork

Busy does not necessarily means productive.

Busy work makes you feel like you are moving quickly and being productive in the process. But in effect, you are not.

If you took time to measure your work, you will be surprised at how little valuable work you are doing.

Oliver Burkeman of BBC writes, “When you’re busy, you’re more likely to make poor time-management choices — taking on commitments you can’t handle, or prioritising trifling tasks over crucial ones. A vicious spiral kicks in: your feelings of busyness leave you even busier than before.”

Many of us confuse being “busy” with being effective, or efficient.

If you start your day by answering emails. You could get sucked into answering questions, replying to every email, and advancing the cause of other people’s actions.

Be proactive about your emails.

Don’t get caught up in reactive mode.

“Most of us have no problem with being busy, but we’re often busy on the wrong things,” says Angie Morgan, co-author of Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success. “You could spend nine to five just emailing, but that’s not driving results or moving you toward longer, bigger goals. When people say, ‘I’m so busy,’ it really means, ‘I’m a poor planner,’ or, ‘I don’t know how to prioritise or delegate.”

Adopt the “one thing” approach.

Make the hard choices and work on your most important priorities instead of responding to urgent tasks.

Your time is limited. Doing everything is not an option.

A simple system to change how you work

Set a very clear intention of how your day will go the next morning, particularly in the beginning, the night before.

Visualising this intention and writing it down into your schedule can make it happen more automatically in the morning without wasting time.

Planning tomorrow today is a powerful habit that changes everyday.

It’s a system that can completely changes how you work:

  1. Before the day ends, identify and write down the best actions (to-do) you need to take tomorrow that will help you get closer to your work goals.
  2. Every morning, focus on completing your action list from yesterday before midday.
  3. Rinse, improve and repeat. Every day. Every week. Every month. Every year.

You could double your efficiency with this simple process/habit.

Adopt the 1–3–5 method to create and manage your action list for the day

On any given day, assume that you can only accomplish one big thing, three medium things, and five small things, and narrow down your to-do list to those nine items.

This means that your daily schedule will feature:

1. One very important task;

2. Three tasks of medium importance

3. Five little things

Of course, this can be flexible, depending on important actions you need to take to advance your work goals.

A daily priority list gives you a great roadmap to follow so that you don’t feel overwhelmed and don’t have to waste time thinking about what needs done.

I use a combination of these methods to get through the day depending on how much work I have to get through.

As you practice being ruthless with your to-do, you’ll find it gets easier and you’ll be able to pick the right method at the right time.