The Secret Key to Productivity: Sometimes Doing Less Is Better!

The Secret Key to Productivity: Sometimes Doing Less Is Better!
The Secret Key to Productivity: Sometimes Doing Less Is Better!


By Anubhav Srivastava ( Register for his Workshop – Build Super Confidence For Super Success!)

Most people have the idea of productivity all wrong. They think productivity is all about putting in the maximum effort possible. Wrong! Productivity is about getting the maximum output possible whilst putting in the lowest input!

Don’t believe me, here is the definition.

Investopedia: Productivity is an economic measure of output per unit of input.

Productivity does not necessarily have a positive correlation with number of things that you do. A goal of a truly productive person should be to find ways to increase the output. The goal of an automobile manufacturer is to make sure it delivers highest possible output on the minimum fuel possible. is not to show off how hard the engine works or how large it’s fuel tank is.

Just because you work long hours in a day doesn’t necessarily mean you are productive. When you work a lot more but produce only somewhat better than someone else who puts in a lot less work, the second person is actually far more productive.

The goal is neither to be lazy nor to work hard. The goal is to get greater results.

How can you achieve that?

One of the best ways to achieve it is to actually do less.

Doing less instead of more saved Apple from the verge of Bankruptcy. In the late 90’s Apple that did not have Steve Jobs at helm was selling countless products, most of which were performing poorly. When Steve Jobs came back, he terminated all the projects that were not contributing to the bottom line and focused on selling a few core products and making them world class. The rest is history!

Many times, you actually get a lot more done by getting rid of things rather than piling them on.

Most people have to do lists where they list scores of things they need to do in the day. While they serve as a good reminder, most of the times, they actually backfire. Many people become so overwhelmed with the amount of things they write on it, that they list stresses them out rather than doing any good. Very often, they become so stressed, that either they work so feverishly on 200 different things, most of which are inconsequential or they actually start procrastinating because everything looks so huge and difficult.

Did that ever happen with you?

Let’s address what happens when you pile up your to do list and try to do tons of things at once.

It’s like going to a forest and striking 200 different trees once. You worked so hard but at the end of the day you have no result, because not a single tree has been struck down completely. Instead if you just struck one tree 200 times and then repeated the process with a few other trees, you would have taken the wood, sold it in the market and have enough food on the table for a while.

When you work on too many things, you are not bringing a single one of them too completion. Or you become so slow that it takes a lot longer and gives you a lot more stress.

Second, when you measure how hard you work in terms of the number of things you do, the problem is that most of your time will be devoted to things that have a low ROI as compared to the main things you know will give you the highest returns. When the ROI is low, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, you are still less productive.

Now sometimes, the ROI may not be immediate, as in the case of many businesses, where the high ROI does come eventually but not immediately. I am not talking about that. That is a part of a strategy which may or may not work. What I am talking about are frivolous daily tasks that consume a lot of time but get nothing done. For example having pointless meetings or answering non essential phone calls or emails because it is technically “work”

Can you think of some other “work” that you do, that ultimately is either a waste of time or has a low ROI and distracts your focus from the main things that make you money? (or whatever your goal is)

I bet you can think of many.

Make a list of all the things that you are doing today that you think are work.

List them all down. I bet you can list at least ten of them. Once you have taken

Ask yourself, which of these have the highest Return on Investment (ROI) ? Pick three of them. The majority of your time should be devoted to these activities. Everything else is secondary at this point.

Now take a look at all the remaining things, what are the things that deliver lower ROI but are absolutely crucial to your business or work?

List those things. Now ask yourself, do these things absolutely require your presence or can they be delegated to someone else. Can you outsource those activities to a person or a system for a reasonable cost whilst freeing up most of your time to devote to the highest ROI activities? Then do that!

Now depending on your circumstances you may not always be able to do it, but as far as possible, delegate what doesn’t absolutely require your presence. Automate everything that can be automated. You will be surprised to know how many automation systems are available for free or for a very low cost compared to the time you spend doing the things by yourself.

If you can’t outsource those things and they cannot be automated then set aside specific blocks of time. For example answer all emails that can wait in one go. Schedule as many back to back meetings as you can in one day. Just the mere act of clubbing and scheduling those things together will will get them done quicker and keep you focused on things that matter.

Finally, look at everything else and GET RID OF IT. You don’t need it no matter how important it looks. If it doesn’t give an ROI and it isn’t absolutely crucial to your work, you don’t need it, period. Unless you look at it as a hobby or a way to relax!

Remember, sometimes less is more. Extreme focus on one thing provides more results than half hearted attention to 20 things. Remember, what Bruce Lee said, ” I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”

Extreme focus produces extreme results. Implement this basic vetting technique in your life today. You will see your productivity shoot up tremendously!

About the Author

The author of this article, Anubhav Srivastava is a trainer, author and director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields, who teach the viewers how they too can make all of their dreams come true. The movie itself has been seen on Youtube by almost 1.5 Million people. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times,, Leicester Mercury and many others.

As a speaker, he has trained participants from various reputed companies and organizations such as  KPMG, Star Union Dai-Ichi Insurance, Center of Development of Telematics, Telexcell, National Thermal Power Corporation, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Telecom Consultants of India Limited, Exide Life Insurance, iVentures Capital, Mother Dairy, members of IIT Madras, IIM Indore, IIT BHU, All India Management Association, National Cadet Corps, Institute of Chartered Accountants and professors from Punjab Agricultural University.

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