Get-It-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More
Get-It-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More is a playful, yet serious guide to working less and doing more.
Stever Robin's Get-It-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More book will be released on Sept. 14th
Stever Robbins hosts the Quick and Dirty Tips network's Get-it-Done Guy podcast, an iTunes #1 business podcast.
“The Get-It-Done Guy's 9 Steps To Work Less and Do More” is being published by a Macmillan subsidiary, St. Martins press, one of the largest publishers in the US
The book's nine steps build a foundation for streamlining how you get what you want out of work (and life)
- Step 1. Live and work on purpose
- Step 2: Stop procrastinating
- Step 3: Conquer your technology
- Step 4: Cultivate focus
- Step 5: Stay organized (mentally as well as physically)
- Step 6: Don't waste time. A lot of supposedly “on task” work
- Step 7: Optimize!
- Step 8: Build stronger relationships
- Step 9: Leverage!
Get-It-Done Guy podcast receives more than 80,000 downloads per week on iTunes, making it one of the top downloads in the business category and just surpassed its 7 millionth download
A veteran of nine startups, including FTP Software, Intuit, and HEAR Music, Stever Robbins authored "It Takes a Lot More than Attitude" and speaks on leadership, entrepreneurship, culture, and persuasion.
This book is a fun engaging read that helps you work less and do more in business and the rest of your life.
About Get-It-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More
Get-It-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More is a playful, yet serious guide to working less and doing more. In other words, creating a more productive life. Yes, it's about getting more done at work. It's also about getting more done in life. It lays out nine skills that apply anywhere you want to get greater results with less work. (For the buzzword-inclined,
you can think of the book as business process re-engineering applied to individual productivity. I wouldn't say that aloud, however.)
Along with tips for running meetings and managing multiple projects, you'll find content unique within the business literature. Everyone knows opening a new manufacturing plant requires detailed coordination and management. But only The Get-it-Done Guy gives serious treatment to the oft-overlooked project of creating an army of zombies to conquer the world (have you ever considered the supplies requirements for a zombie army? Zombies must be refrigerated
or they fall apart). This book goes where other business books fear to tread. And unlike the others, this one's funny.
This Book Gives Universal Advice
The best-known books on personal productivity are The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, and Getting Things Done by David Allen. Tim's book helps people build a financial engine to give them the life they want. David's book helps achieve a peaceful, Zen-like mind by creating a system that handles everything in your life. The Get-it-Done Guy Book builds skills to make any pursuit less work. You can use it to work less and do more while building the financial engine that revolutionizes your life.
Along with tips for running meetings and managing multiple projects, you'll find content unique within the business literature. Everyone knows opening a new manufacturing plant requires detailed coordination and management. But only The Get-it-Done Guy gives serious treatment to the oft-overlooked project of creating an army of zombies to conquer the world (have you ever considered the supplies requirements for a zombie army? Zombies must be refrigerated or they fall apart). This book goes where other business books fear to tread. And unlike the others, this one's funny.
You can also use it to do your existing job faster and better. One step of the Get-it-Done Guy system involves clearing your mind and life of clutter, and it addresses far more than inboxes; it addresses physical clutter and streamlining job demands that can lead to information overwhelm such as having to track several projects at once. Task management has already been presented in Getting Things Done, which is the system I have used for the last several years.
The book's nine steps build a foundation for streamlining how you get what you want out of work (and life). The material is based on ideas I learned or developed during my years coaching, both coaching tools and techniques to help clients work less and do more.
The Nine Steps
Step 1: Live and work on purpose
If you're anything like me, a lot of what you call work has very little to do with getting anything important done in life. Like when I compulsively check my social media sites every hour. That kind of thing must go.
Step 2: Stop procrastinating
What is procrastinating except the very art of not doing the very stuff you know is most important? We'll cover how to nip this in the bud, or at least arrange for someone to kick you into action when you're delaying. And just in case you're someone who claims being kicked into action doesn't work for you, we'll get out an Ostrich feather and tickle you into action instead.
Step 3: Conquer your technology
Our supposed savior, technology, is for many of us, the greatest obstacle we have to being truly productive. You'll learn how to use your technology to help you focus, instead of hey, hang on a second. There's an instant message coming in.
Step 4: Cultivate focus
Do you have any idea how much time is wasted multi-tasking? A lot. If you keep yourself focused and eliminate distractions, you can toss yourself into the kind of flow where the results come fast and easy. And you'll do it entirely without the use of pharmaceutical supplements.
Step 5: Stay organized
When you have a place for everything and everything in its place, it's no work at all to find what you need, when you need it. I'm not just talking about physical clutter; this is also about organizing your thinking, your projects, and your processes. Reclaim all that time you otherwise spend hunting for the next step, the next paper, or the next person by knowing exactly where to go and what to do when you need it.
Step 6: Don't waste time
Sometimes you appear to be doing exactly, precisely what you should be doing, but are actually wasting time that could be spent doing something more meaningful, like eating bon-bons and sipping fruit flavored beverages in a hammock strung between your computer and your doorframe.
Step 7: Optimize!
As I mentioned before, doing things twice bores me silly. Especially when it comes to making mistakes. In Optimize, you'll learn how to do things once or twice, streamline them to the point where the task is completely brainless, and Let's just say that I'll leave you to connect the dots. Think, "brain-eating Zombies." The implications will jump right out.
Step 8: Build stronger relationships.
You can't get there alone; you need someone to program the GPS while you're trying to read street signs. Relationships are, ultimately, how everything gets done. Together, we can do far, far more than we can alone. For example, one of us can measure while the other mixes, and then we can both eat the cookies when they're ready. You'll learn some excellent ways to create and deepen the relationships that matter most.
Step 9: Leverage!
The ultimate in Doing More, our final destination of leverage will give you several ways to make sure when you do get results, you get better, stronger, and faster than you'd ever dreamed possible.
1. Why do we procrastinate? What are some simple tips for beating procrastination?
Thinking causes procrastination. No, really. We build up tasks in our mind, thinking they'll be huge, unachievable,or unpleasant. The remedy is to stop thinking and just start acting. Your brain will still get in your way, however. While you're filling out your procrastinated expense reports, your brain will distract you with worries that you're making no progress on the novel you've been procrastinating.
As I mention in my book, you can make your brain happy by speed-dating your tasks. List what you're procrastinating. Start at the top and work on each task for exactly five minutes, then move to the next task. Use a timer to be precise. When you're done, take a 5-10 minute break and do it again. Five minutes is short; your brain will let you do it. Since you're hitting several of your procrastinated tasks, your brain knows you'll get to your other tasks just five minutes from now. It frees you to focus completely on the task in front of you, yet guarantees you'll go on to make progress on everything that's important.
2. Your career background includes a lot of technology companies, but Step 3 of your 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More is called "Conquer Technology". Why doesn't technology automatically make us more productive? How can we use it to become more productive?
Don't get me wrong; some technology really delivers on its promise. But often, technology saves effort in one place while adding effort in others. For example, each new gadget packs more capability into each device. What makes it attractive and fun also makes it distracting and kills our productivity.
Technology is a tool, nothing more, and nothing less. When a carpenter uses a screwdriver, she picks it up, uses it, and puts it down again. That's how you use tools. Treat your technology the same way. Instead of being married to it everywhere you go, divorce your technology.Have it around, just not in front of you. Do your thinking on paper. Decide what you need to do. Then get out the tools to do it. If you need to do something on computer—like send email—get up, walk over to your computer, open the email program, send the email, close the program, and walk back to your main work area. By keeping each task distinct, you'll learn to use your computer as a tool. Instead of being a distraction, it becomes a superb way of amplifying your focus. In that Step 3 of the book, I explained how I evaluate all of my gadgets to make sure they are delivering on their work-less-do-more promise; I suggest everyone do the as me.
3. Does being organized automatically mean you're getting more done?
Being organized means you have a place for everything and everything goes in its place. When you're disorganized, everything you do has the added burden of your having to search for the tools need to do it. For example, when you're disorganized, writing a Thank You card is an adventure. You have to brave your Supply Pile. You hunt for 5 minutes to find the crumpled paper bag where you stuffed those Thank You cards. You start writing ... only to find you're out of stamps. A 10-minute trip to the Post Office, later your cards are ready to go. If you're organized, you get out your Thank You cards and stamps. You write the Thank You card, stamp the envelope, and toss it in mailbox. Elapsed time: 30 seconds, instead of 15 minutes and 30 seconds.
If you use the 15 minutes you saved to get more done, then being organized helps you get more done in the same amount of time. Otherwise, you're getting the same done in less time, freeing up the extra time to do something awesome. Like eat Oreo Ice Cream Cake. That's one way being physically organized can help you be more productive. I also offer advice on how to organize your days and brain better in the book too.
4. In your book, you recommend people not consider all their options. How can this help someone get more done?
We love choice! We believe more choice means more happiness and more movement towards our goals! The research on choice refutes this, however. Give us more than two or three choices and we become less likely to act and more likely to regret any choice we take.
In daily life, this means too many options stalls us, and we end up less happy with our choices. We make and re-make our decisions until we've spent more time and money making the decision than the decision is actually worth.
By limiting our options, we limit the research needed for the choice, and we're more likely to keep moving forward. My example is buying a digital camera. I've needed one for three years now, but there are too many to choose from. If I simply limit my options to the first ten cameras that appear on the Consumer Reports web site, the decision becomes much easier. Will I get the best camera possible? Probably not. But I willget a camera and start doing the photography I need to get done. Without limiting my choices, I stay paralyzed and stressed.
5. Leverage is usually a term applied to finance? The final step of your 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More is called "Leverage". What do you mean when you use the term?
Leverage is a physics term. A lever is a simple machine. You put in a small force on the long end of a lever and get a strong force out. In finance, leverage means using a small amount of your own money to borrow a much greater amount, so you get huge financial effects using only a small amount of money.
In Get-it-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More, I use leverage to mean doing a small amount of work and getting a huge result. Choose ways of working where you work less and get outsized results. For example, most of us scribble down a to-do list as a way of keeping track of what we have to do today. You can get leverage by jotting down that list in a format that someone else can understand. Then you can hire an assistant, give them your old to-do lists, and they can hit the ground running. You are doing a little more work by writing neater and maybe elaborating each item a bit. Your return is immense, though, because your to-do list enables you to free up time by delegating.
6. What is an action day? Shouldn't every day be an action day?
An action day is one of my favorite tips in the book and a great way to get things done while bonding with a friend. Call a friend who wants to have a super-productive day. Get together in person or by phone, each bringing a list of things you want to get done. Commit to making progress and start working. Check in at the top of each hour, report your last hour's progress, and declare your next hour's plan. Your promise to each other gets you started, and the hourly check-ins keep you on track. I find in-person or phone works best for action days.
Every day can be an action day if you have people willing to play. I wrote the final draft of my book by holding five action days a week. The action days kept me going through the rough patches, and a couple of the regular attendees became friends! An action day is pretty intense, though, and I found that two each week was a good number.
I hold regular action days. If you'd like to be on the announcement list, visit http://www.SteverRobbins.com/actiondays. I send out announcements of new action days once or twice a month.
7. What is the biggest hindrance to your personal productivity? How do you deal with it?
The internet. The web and email are a large part of my job, and they're both distraction machines. The moment I open an email or visit a web site to do research, I risk hours of distraction. Its siren song is extremely seductive and hard to resist...
My solution is to divorce my technology as I described earlier. Rather than thinking of my computer as "my computer," I think of it as a different tools, depending on my task. Sometimes it's my typewriter, sometimes it's my reference book, and sometimes it's my newspaper. When I think of it in terms of the tool I need at the moment, it helps me stay focused on the current task.
... and when that fails, I use a freeware program called Freedom on my Mac to shut down my internet connection for a couple of hours.
8. If a person can make just one change to make themselves more productive, what would you recommend they change?
Definitely Step 1, which is Live on Purpose. Regularly stop and ask yourself why you're doing what you're doing. Then make sure what you're doing is really the best way to reach that goal. I do this a dozen times a day. "Why am I surfing Facebook?" "I dunno. Habit." "Ok, self, get back to work!"
Living on Purpose goes far beyond your moment-to-moment tasks, however. I used to go to four or five business conferences each year. Why? "I'm doing important business development," was my answer. Year, right. When reviewing my client list, I realized not a single client had come from attending a conference. My clients had only come from speaking at conferences. Now, I only attend conferences where I'm speaking, or if there's some other compelling reason to be there.
9. You recommend that people schedule interruptions. How is this possible?
You schedule interruptions by setting aside a time block each day for dealing with interruptions. If you're interrupted, quickly decide if it's a show-stopping emergency. If not, jot it down on your "Interruptions" list. Wait until your scheduled interruption time and work on it then. If Bernice drops by, asking you to review a memo she's written, just say, "I would be happy to. I'm busy right now. How about if I get back to you a little after 4 p.m.?” When your interruption time arrives, her memo will be on your list and you can handle it then. Often if the interruption is someone with a problem, they'll solve it themselves when you make yourself their convenient rescue service.
Interruptions will take your time one way or another. If you schedule them, at least you can get work done in the meantime.
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About Stever Robbins
Stever Robbins is a successful entrepreneur, Harvard MBA, and MIT grad whose mission is helping people reach their dreams and be happy doing it. He loves productivity, in the service offun. A veteran of nine startups,including FTP Software, Intuit, and HEAR Music, he authored "It Takes a Lot More than Attitude" and speaks on leadership, entrepreneurship, culture, and persuasion. As CEO of Stever Robbins, Inc., he coaches executives in building stronger businesses, careers, and lives.
He works with younger and emerging business leaders by mentoring high- school students through Junior Achievement, serving as career coach and business plan judge at Harvard Business School, and participating in Boston's "Principal for a Day" program. He is a former Big Brother of America.
In his spare time, Stever's hobbies include comedy improv, swing dancing, NLP, singing, interactive theater, Ericksonian hypnosis, and strategy board games. He's learning guitar and is very happy to announce he can play "E." The note, not the chord.
On the Down Side and the Dark Side of Getting Everything Done
A word of caution, however. Getting everything done in less time is wonderful, it's very wonderful. But it comes with a hidden dark side. If you aren't careful, you'll end up working more than when you started. That's why you absolutely must understand how to insure this doesn't happen.
This book will only be useful if you get to enjoy the fruits of your own efforts. If you get better at what
you do and then overload yourself, you're no better off.
On Knowing What You Want
You can get hijacked into nonsense-land when you don't know what you want. Before you can streamline life, you must know your goals. If you don't know where you're going, you can't make getting there effortless. When you know your destination, you can chart a course in advance. Moment-by-moment, you can make sure you're doing things that take you where you want to go. Otherwise, all your activity is nothing more than busy-ness.
On Living on Purpose and Keeping Your Focus
Living on purpose means stopping to make sure your actions still match your big goals. But you need to keep the big picture in mind to do this. Without knowing your higher level goals, you don't know whether your actions are helping.
On Getting Back on Track Towards Your Goals
When you get buried in details is when you risk getting too wedded to actions that won't help reach your goals. It happens in the heat of the moment. Asking why moves back to the big picture. Then, you can check to find out if your actions have come unglued from your goals. In theory, you could do this as often as every day, reviewing your to-do list to make sure it ties to your bigger goals. In my perfect fantasy world, I check my actions against my goals every day. In real life, once a week or once every other week is more realistic.
On Reviewing Life Goals and Priorities
Here are some of my favorite times to review my Life Map to bring me back on track:
1.When surfing the web, reading email, or doing anything online. Commenting on a blog about celebrity acne can wait. At least, I'm pretty sure it can.
2.Before running errands. Do I really need new boxer briefs right now? Maybe I'll just do laundry, instead.
3.Making outbound phone calls. Aunt Sally will still be there tonight. Maybe I can call her then, and make progress on my life during the day today.
4.Doing administrative stuff. Filing bills makes me feel so organized! I just love filing! But administrative tasks rarely make progress on my most important goals. We'll learn how to deal with administrivia elsewhere in the book. Your life map will get you back on path if now isn't the best time to address envelopes.
On Wasting Time That Aren't Related to Your Life Purpose
Notice when you're wasting time on things that aren't related to your big goals and life purpose. That's work you're doing that's not getting you what you want in life. The very opposite of working less and doing more of what matters. So stop. Find projects that actually fulfill your purpose.
Procrastination is All in Your Head. Procrastination comes from your thinking. We're going to use the very thoughts that cause procrastination as the keys to overcoming it and sailing merrily along our way.
On Technology's Promise of Getting Things Done
If anything, technology has helped us work more and do less . Technology certainly changes how we do things, but it often makes less work in one area while making much more work in others. And it's expensive, requiring more work to pay for the cool technology that helps us work less.
On Making Your Computer a Productivity Tool
Most offices are designed so when we sit down, we're at our computer. Change that! Move your computer physically away from the center of your desk. If sitting at your desk means automatically facing your monitor, you'll get snagged. If you put your computer across the room, using it requires conscious thought.
On Responding to Voicemail
You Don't Need to Return Messages. When people leave a message, we feel compelled to answer. It would be rude not to. We believe we must respond or at least justify ourselves. We think, "If I don't respond, they'll think I'm a jerk." Or, "They'll fire me." You might think you have to take calls from clients, bosses, or polyamorous family units. Nope. Just cause they're a client doesn't mean they can interrupt!
On Taming Your Email Inbox
Part of the problem with email is that you read it online, where you can also act on each message the instant you get it. Every few seconds, your attention will be yanked to and fro by the agenda of whomever's email just happened to arrive. Cut that link by not responding immediately until you know all of the work on your plate.
On Avoiding Interruptions and Distractions
Grab a piece of paper and write in nice, neat letters at the top, INTERRUPTIONS. This is your interruption list. When an interruption rears its ugly head and the head will be ugly jot down the interruption on your interruption list. Now you've dealt with it! Wasn't that quick and easy? You can keep working, secure in the knowledge that the would-be distraction has now been dealt with and is safe and secure on your list.
On Setting Boundaries to Prevent Interruptions
If you spend all your time supporting your co-workers, you'll never get your own work done. If your boss is who interrupts you the most sit down and say, "interruptions break my flow enough that they really tank my productivity for the hour. Would you rather I be immediately responsive to your IMs, or would you rather I work in the Zone and check my inboxes a few times a day at defined times?" If your boss isn't mature enough to hear that, then he/she does not understand his/her job and you should expect them to be promoted to executive sometime in the next six months. If your boss is competent, however, it should lead to much improved working conditions during your boss's remaining three weeks at the company.
On Staying Organized
No matter how focused and streamlined you are with your time, if you spend your time rummaging around in files, boxes, and notebooks, looking frantically for the phone number of the psychic you're depending on to tell you how to get that promotion you've always wanted, then you're wasting time. If you're disorganized, you have to remember where everything is, and keep it all in your brain, which can be really painful if you're trying to follow the plot of your favorite reality TV show. Organized, you spend your work time doing productive stuff instead of searching for the tools you need to do the productive stuff. That's why staying organized is step 5 and an essential step on the journey to working less and doing more.
On How to Organize Your Days
Not only is assembling a Zombie Army a huge process, but your body, itself, goes through a daily process. Once it's a finely-tuned instrument, you can get the most done the most quickly by organizing your work around what comes easily, when it comes easily. So now let's talk about how to organize your days to help you get the most done in the shortest amount of time..
On Not Wasting Time
Time wasting comes in a few convenient varieties. You can do stuff you think is work but actually isn't; you can work on stuff that doesn't give you the biggest bang for your buck; you can get caught up in doing way more than you need; you can make decisions that take ten times as long as they need to; and you can get stalled by very basic, simple stuff that gets in your way that you never clean up.
On Wasting Your Time with Trivial Stuff
Just doing today's work isn't enough. Put your efforts behind what's most important using the 80/20 rule.
On Doing Just Good Enough
If you're producing a product or service, good enough is defined by your customers. That's what market research is all about. And if you want to do a good enough job to be promoted, it's your boss who can tell you what's good enough. It's true that your boss may define good enough differently from how the company defines it. I, however, shall diplomatically avoid a frank discussion of corporate politics and instead suggest that your All-Knowing, Benevolent Boss will happily help you understand how to do a good enough job.
On Wasting Time By Not Having the Things You Need
Think about the little things you're always forgetting to carry everywhere. Now, buy extras. My office and work areas are chock full of extra sticky pads, paper clips, and even copies of my favorite reference books. Notebooks abound. I used to go crazy remembering to bring my phone charger with me on days I knew my phone use would be heavy. Then I got chargers for the car, the bedroom, the living room, and the office. By having extras, my work never gets interrupted by a sudden unexpected trip to the store to buy some small item. Once I'm in the zone, everything will be at my fingertips when it's needed.
On Wasting Time on Meetings
Before you start trying to run faster meetings, figure out of you actually need to have the meeting in the first place. There are several types of meetings companies commonly have that can actually be eliminated entirely.
On Delegation and Tasking Others
The most wonderful way to work less is to let someone else do your work for you. But it's hard, because you have to figure out what to tell them to do. Let your to-do list do the thinking for you. We usually think our to-do list is a tool to control the future, but it's also a handy diary.
On Building Relationships
Strong, vibrant relationships help you work less because people look out for each other. When you get stuck, the people you've developed strong relationships with will help you out. Having many diverse, deep connections can get you what you need in mere moments. When you bring several of your strong relationships together to work on a project, you can divide up the work so each person works on the thing they know best, resulting in all of you not getting stuck on a task above your expertise level and working better, faster. Together, you accomplish more than you ever could alone. That's why building strong relationships is step eight in our quest to work less and do more.
On Small Talk
I think small talk is a complete waste of time. The real way to build a relationship with someone is to create intimacy by moving your conversation up a ladder of intimacy. There's been research done on the topic, and since I'm not a scientist, I'll probably going to mangle it beyond belief. But even so, it may work for you. You can use these tips when going to networking events and more generally when you meet someone new who you want to build a relationship with.
The word "leverage" comes from the physics of simple machines, specifically, the lever (quelle surprise). "Leverage" in the business world means getting outsized results without having to put in more resources or work. Taking a co-worker to lunch day after day, hoping enough seafood salad will convince them to help write a report is a big use of time and effort. Tickling their feet with an Ostrich feather until they agree to help takes about 45 seconds; it's a very high-leverage activity.