Evolve – Get More Done In Less Time – The Secret Life of Checklists

Work Smarter

I have 200 checklists in my iPhone. I will have another 20 by the end of the week. Checklists are the secret to non repetitive life learning. You want to repeat things over and over or allow fresh life to enter? You want to argue with your spouse and have it always take the same time to rebound or would you prefer to rebound in shorter and shorter time? (I know you know that the purpose of a relationship is not happiness – it’s support and challenge)

The secret to evolving your life is to get more done in less time. So, that means arguing with your spouse in less time, getting your work done in less time, getting fitter in less time. One example might be instead of weight loss, don’t eat crap carbs. That saves time repair ing damage right?

To evolve your process in life everything you learn from me can become a system. If you get up and kiss your partner, take a pee, do walkachi, shower and eat turn it into a check list.

This is so important because disorganised knowledge just leads to confusion.

If you get to work, say a prayer, get thankful, become present with your space, do a virtual walkachi, set your agenda, create your intent and then calmly proceed, turn it into a check list.

Randomising your day seems creative. But ultimately it’s simply lazy – it helps you avoid those things you don’t enjoy but if your day is spent focussed on enjoyment, you’ll be losing energy from wake to sleep, and you just may not have enough for the trip.

Last night I got a text from a wonderful client I hadn’t heard from in months. It was late and he was gloating about his weight reduction. I went back and reminded him that he was still in the death zone. This was offensive to him, he wanted some encouragement for his achievement. In fact he was asking me to put bitumen on the dirt road he was on, unfortunately that road was leading directly to a cliff. That to me is therapy. Paving dirt roads so the ride is smoother, to hell and back. Instead I say to people, evolve.

Simply, evolve means turn chaos to order and then systematise it. Look there’s plenty more chaos coming, you don’t have to worry that turning your life into a series of check lists is going to wreck the fun, there’s heaps coming. Simply, you don’t want to go through a challenge three four or five times in order to learn from it.

You create a system, a check list, so next time ….. happens, you automate, or at least, get through it faster.

Take going out for dinner with your spouse or lover. That’s a check list before you arrive. Why? Because about a year ago, you went for dinner, argued, nearly split up, and then worked through it with me, to make sure that situation taught you something, evolved you, and you didn’t blame your spouse or the dinner or the work. You blamed your process.

So that check list would look like:

Pre dinner check list for turning up for my spouse:

  1. Wash – even shower between work and dinner
  2. Change my shirt between work and dinner
  3. Close all digital gear at dinner
  4. Do an emotional shower so I close off all work day stuff
  5. Do an agenda for tomorrow in a “lucky fkr” mode
  6. Review my VIP so I’m totally inspired
  7. Connect this dinner and the joy of it to my highest value
  8. Make the focus of the night listening and complimenting
  9. Do not question my spouse on their choices
  10. Be calm, drink little, be kind,
  11. treat my spouse as I wish them to become
  12. Talk about her, not the house renovation or money.

In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to be distracted. Our phones ring, our emails demand instant responses, and we’re expected to show up at every meeting. Sometimes we feel demoralized at the end of the day, knowing we barely got started on our to-do list. Yes, we’re busy — to the point of addiction. The question is, are we more productive?

The answer is NO, not according to these three thought leaders:

Stephen Covey introduced us to the concept “sharpen the saw” in his famous book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He tells the story of a woodcutter, sawing to the point of exhaustion while trying to take down a tree. When a man watching suggests to the woodcutter that he could get the job done quicker by taking a break to sharpen his saw, the woodcutter responds in anger: “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw. Don’t you see I’m too busy?”

See Huffington Post for the details of this article – it’s great

Sound familiar? I know I’ve been guilty of this. Pushing myself to get something done until I’m hungry, tired and a lot less likely to succeed at my task. Even so, it’s hard to pull myself away when I’m focused. Because I know I’m not good to anyone, including myself, when I’m in an overtired, overworked state, I remind myself of the instructions given on an airplane: Secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.

Like Covey suggests, I make sure to nurture myself. I spend time with my family, meditate, read, listen to great music or spend time by myself. When I care for myself the rewards are gratifying. I’m able to return to my task refreshed, with a better attitude and more focus.

Teresa Amabile, Harvard Business School director of research and Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration, believes that when it comes to creativity our current work environment dampens our productivity. Amabile suggests that employers encourage their employees to daydream for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Instead of constant doing, she recommends unstructured time, which can be spent in peaceful contemplation.

In an article for the Harvard Gazette, Amabile states, “In the short term, people become less engaged in their work if their creativity isn’t supported. They will also be less productive because they often can’t focus on their most important work. In the long term, companies may lose their most talented employees, as well as losing out because they won’t have the innovative products, innovative services, and business models that they need to be competitive.”

Christine Carter, happiness expert, sociologist and one of the founders of the Greater Good Science Center At Berkley, wrote that people equate their importance to how busy they are in her book The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work. However, she notes, the trick is to find your sweet spot — that perfect balance between power and ease.

Carter says, one way to do this is to: “Find the minimum effective dose of everything. The ‘minimum effective dose’ (MED) is considered to be the lowest dose of a pharmaceutical product that spurs a clinically significant change in health or wellbeing. In order to live and work from my sweet spot, I had to find the MED in everything in my life: sleep, meditation, blogging frequency, checking my email, school volunteering, homework help, date nights.”

Unlike many, I don’t feel obligated to keep up on everything, so I can really relate to Carter’s MED suggestion. Another way I find my sweet spot is to allow myself uninterrupted blocks of time. I clear my desk, answer all my pressing emails and phone calls, make sure that my family is taken care of, and then I get to work. Once I’ve made progress I take a break to tackle a few things on my to-do list, get something to eat or drink, or rest. This keeps me from feeling burned out.

I also work with what Carter calls “strategic slacking.” From a neuroscience perspective, we have two ways of focusing our attention. The first is comprised of intense concentration; the second is when our minds are wondering. I allow myself to daydream — or strategically slack — because I find it helps with my creative flow. While we associate productivity with what we accomplish with concentrated effort, I’ve learned just how powerful it is to clear your mind and just be.

How do you achieve more by doing less?