It amazes me how some people just have a knack for getting things done – they have an amazing bias for action. While others are still compiling a pros and cons list, they’ve already finished or are well on their way to finishing the task at hand.
A wise man once said – you’ll always accomplish more through movement than through meditation.
So what’s the difference between these radically different groups of people? What’s the difference between those who just talk the talk and those who walk the walk?
In this multi-part series of articles I’ve compiled some of the key secrets of high-performance people. Both through observation and personal experience I’ve put together what can be thought of as a “best of” list for getting things done. You’ll be surprised how differently high-performance people think.
THE BEST TIME MANAGEMENT TOOL IN THE WORLD
The best time management tool in the world has, in fact, nothing to do with “time management” at all. You may have been expecting me to present some kind to-do list system, time management software or another tip that can save you a few minutes or a few hours here or there. However, this time management tool will literally save you years of hard work – get better at what you do.
You’ll not only get faster and better at the things you do, but you’ll also enormously increase your value to your business and to your customers. Your increased value is most often reflected in your bank account.
What books are the top ten percent in your field reading? What courses are they taking?
By far the best time management tool in the world is to improve your skills and keep improving them with continual self-education. The good news is EVERYONE who is in the top ten percent in your field was once in the bottom ten percent. Everyone who is now a master was once a disaster.
While getting better at what you do seems like obvious advice – very few people continue self-education throughout their lives.
Often when people get “good enough” they tend to get into a routine and their expertise plateaus. As the saying goes they don’t have 15 years experience – they have one year’s experience repeated 15 times.
DISCIPLINE – THE BRIDGE BETWEEN GOALS AND ACCOMPLISHMENT
Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. The 97% crowd hate hearing or thinking about discipline.
They want the push button, magic pill, buy now pay later solution.
You’re different. You understand that we must all suffer from either the current and temporary pain of discipline or the permanent and heavy pain of regret.
I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say I have difficulty with discipline, but here’s what I’ve discovered – discipline is infectious.
One discipline always leads to another. When I start keeping to my exercise routine, soon I find I’m also sticking to my daily to-do list. When I start keeping to my daily reading and self-education habit I soon also find that I’m able to stick to the good habit of healthy eating.
A discipline is the most important type of commitment – a commitment to yourself.
Conversely, the least lack of discipline starts infecting other areas of our life and begins to erode self-esteem. If you can’t trust what you commit to yourself, how can you expect others to trust you to do what you say you’ll do?
You don’t have to change that much for it to make a great deal of difference. A few simple disciplines can have a major impact on how your life works out in the next 90 days, let alone in the next 12 months or the next 3 years.
WORK ALL THE TIME YOU WORK
We all work below our potential capacity. The question is how much below your potential capacity are you working?
To be successful, you must discipline yourself to work all the time you work.
Don’t be feeling guilty and thinking about your family when you’re at the office and visa versa, don’t be thinking about work and continually check your email when you’re relaxing with your family. Give both activities your undivided attention.
How do you explain the fact that everyone, no matter what their role from plumber to CEO, works roughly the same number of hours to get done what they need to get done? The answer is found in Parkinson’s law;
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
The majority of people working today are expanding their work day with “artificial fillers” so as to fill in the available time. Activities such as meaningless busywork, chit chat, meetings, drinking coffee and reading the news ensure they are working at well below capacity.
If they have a dentist appointment at 2pm they’ll get everything they need to get done by the time they need to leave, yet on a normal day it would have taken them until 5pm or later. How did they magically gain 3+ hours? The answer is obvious – they eliminated some of the “artificial fillers”.
As an employee you effectively get rewarded for inefficiency – the longer hours you work, the more time you waste on pointless meetings, the more you’re perceived as a hard worker and team player. That’s because employees work in the time and effort economy.
Entrepreneurs are different. We work in the results economy. In the results economy you get paid for results whether they took you an hour or year to achieve. Time and effort have no bearing on your bank account – only results matter.
That’s one of the reasons why getting good at what you do is so important. The better you get, the less time you need to achieve the same results.
You must therefore resolve to work all the time you work. You must decide that from the time you start until the time you finish, you’ll work on your top priorities as close to 100% of the time as possible. That will dramatically improve your productivity and output.
Rest, recreation and having a good time are important, but understand that they are a separate activity from work (not that you can’t enjoy your work). Mixing the two does not give justice to either. If you do, either your work will suffer or you won’t be able to fully relax, knowing that you’re only doing your work half-heartedly.