“What is the trick to getting a lot of things done?” an audience member once asked a panel that I sat on.
My answer: Don’t get up right away in the morning.
Yep. That’s the secret. I’m not encouraging you to hit the snooze button ten times in a row and to show up late for meetings. However, too often, we let deadlines and everyday emergencies dictate the pace of the day. We wake up frantic and stressed out (and probably also went to sleep frantic and stressed out). Yet as the adage goes, haste makes waste.
“Haste makes waste” isn’t just some silly rhyme. It’s a fact. Driving for speed might work well for mechanical tasks. But many of today’s responsibilities require a manager’s eye, creative problem-solving, and two-steps-ahead thinking. In which case, running around hurriedly doesn’t serve you at all. In fact, it will only trip you up. You’ll make mistakes, overexert yourself, and gain little yardage. In other words, despite all the panic and spent fuel, you’ll actually get less done. As Homer would say, “D’oh!”
My remedy is to set the tone early on. A lot of times, I’ll sit in bed and review my schedule, script out in my head how my day will go, and instead of listening to the terrible news of the day, I visit the online lectures and interviews of my favorite authors, entrepreneurs, or athletes. Anyone trained to make ideas into reality, to make a dollar outta fifteen cents, or make the very best out of some of the very worst. They may be motivational, meditative, instructional, or anecdotal. The point is to breathe in information that will put you in the right frame of mind to tackle your day. Ten to twenty minutes of this can be all it takes to make the difference between having yet another frenzied day and one where you are more squarely in control.
I know, it can be popular to celebrate people who wear themselves thin in the service of some cause or “the company” or even their art. But I’m going to give you permission right here and now not to do so. Make no mistake, I believe in hard work and I believe in strong output. Although, you must realize that your long term as well as your day-to-day goals can be better attained when you aim not to do a lot of things with mediocre results, but to do less things, each all the more successfully. Don’t let your life situation direct you; you direct your life situation. Slow down and you set the tone for how you want your day to pan out.
Speaking of tone, check out this amazing demo by music artist, Bobby McFerrin of “Don’t worry, be happy” fame, at the World Science Festival.
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