I believe each human being has the potential to change, to transform one's own attitude, no matter how difficult the situation
Dalai Lama

12 Ways to Accomplish More By Doing Less

By Sinead Duffy 20th September 2013

Achieve more by doing less

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr

The expression “If you want something done, ask a busy person!” seems a contradiction, but it’s true. High achievers accomplish a great deal more in less time than others. If you are wondering how they are so effective and productive, the secret lies in their selective focus and persistence.

Here are twelve ways you can achieve more by doing less:


  1. 1.       Have a Goal Focused Plan

    Abandon your overwhelming, expanding to-do lists and begin planning for outcomes.  Know what you want and the reasons why you are doing it.   Write down your goals and the action steps required to achieve them.  Being clear about what you want to achieve will help you focus, prioritise and avoid distractions.


  1. 2.       Follow Pareto’s Principle

    Just because something takes a lot of time, does not mean that it is important.  When you follow the 80:20 rule, you will prioritise vital tasks.  80 percent of your results are achieved from 20 percent of your efforts.  With this in mind, concentrate on the 20 percent of the activities that will give you 80 percent of your results.  Therefore, if you have a list of 10 things that you need to do to achieve your goal, spend 80 percent of your time on the 2 that you have determined will yield the most results.


  1. 3.       Eliminate Distractions

    With waves of information flowing around us each day, it is easy to get distracted.  Create periods of time where you block out emails, browsing, phone calls, social media or whatever distraction is wastefully consuming your time.


  1. 4.       Learn to Say ‘No’

    When you are saying ‘No’ to something that is not aligned with your goals, you are really saying ‘Yes’ to having more time for what you care about.  Saying ‘No’ is not something you should apologise for.  You are merely valuing and respecting your own time.


  1. 5.       Simplify Tasks

    Examine everything you do and create ways in which it can be made easier.  Einstein believed wholeheartedly in making everything simpler.  He even boiled an egg in his soup.  If you get lots of emails, create ‘rules’ to have them filtered into various folders.  If you spend time grocery shopping, consider online shopping with home delivery.  Examine and simplify all repetitive tasks and automate where possible.


  1. 6.       Use Brilliant Technology

    Set up systems that work for you and your lifestyle.  You can easily store files online with Dropbox, record notes anywhere with Evernote, schedule calls and meetings with TimeTrade and manage your tweets with Tweetdeck. You can also automate your updates with Social Oomph.


  1. 7.       Go to Bed Early

    Being rested and fresh will impact on your ability to be effective. Develop an evening routine that works for you and go to sleep eight hours before you want to get up. A rested mind is sharp, alert and brimming with great ideas together with the desire to act on them.


  1. 8.       Get Up Earlier

    Getting up earlier will help you get off to a great start.  The majority of people are ‘morning people’ and get their best work done in the early part of the day.  If you find it difficult to get up much earlier, then start incrementally by getting up 15 minutes earlier each day.


  1. 9.       Use a Timer

    Use a timer to set limits and increase your speed.  As soon as you begin using this method you will be amazed at how practical and effective it is.  Periods of 25 minutes with a 5 minute interlude are a great combination.  The timer is also a very useful at helping you get through particularly arduous tasks or mundane chores.  Set the timer and work diligently, committing to the task for 25 minutes.  When you use this method it will eliminate feelings of being overwhelmed due to work build-up


  1. 10.   Take Short Relaxation Breaks

    Busy schedules and lack of fresh air can often leave people feeling drained. Rather than reaching for a caffeine fix or sugar rush, download the free app called Digipill.  Listen to the relaxation treat called T-Break.  It lasts 15 minutes and will help you relax, recharge and regroup your thoughts.


  1. 11.   Single Task

    Multi-tasking is overrated, ineffective and compromises quality.  Simultaneously eating lunch, checking emails and making phone calls is a recipe for disaster.  Do one thing at a time and do it well.


  1. 12.   Develop a Sense of Urgency

    Use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage.   It states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.   If you schedule extra time, you will use it up.  Allow yourself a shorter time frame to get things done.


There will never be enough time to do absolutely everything you want.  The silver lining is that you can achieve more of what matters by doing less.

Take the ‘Accomplish More By Doing Less” challenge and apply these techniques to your day.

For more great reads on achieving more by doing less, check out The 4 Hour Work Week, Getting Things Done and First Things First.

Have you discovered ways of achieving more by doing less? Share your tips and techniques for maximising productivity and effectiveness? What works best for you?