You Really Need A Not-To-Do List

“Less is more. Progress is made through precise, persistent, and purposeful pushes.” ― Scott Perry 

If you’re like most of us, then it’s likely you’ll have too much to do but not enough time. If left unchecked, then over time this can become demotivating and even overwhelming. That’s why a Not-To-Do list can help you become more effective.

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How to increase focus and reduce work deadline stress before Xmas

“The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It's to have the discipline when there are so many competing things.” – Alexa Hirschfeld

What projects, outcomes, targets or deadlines do you need to achieve before Xmas? Chances are there’s more on your To-Do List than the time available. Are you on track or do you need refocus in the lead up to Xmas?

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The simplest way to make progress and reduce overwhelm

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one” - Mark Twain

We’re usually distracted by what’s not done. Have you noticed a sense of relief when you clear the backlog of outstanding work? An efficient workflow is such an important part of being able to consistently work effectively. Does the way you work enable you to make progress? Or are your work methods increasing the level of overwhelm?

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When you don't have enough time to do it all

“Unnatural work produces too much stress” – Bhagavad Gita

A familiar theme for middle and senior managers is a feeling of not having enough hours in the day to get everything done. The sentiment is exasperated even more when their manager above or direct reports aren’t helping much or supportive. The result is stress, poor sleep and a lack of enjoyment in the job. What do you do when you don’t have enough time to do it all?

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The profound effect of saying “No”

“Just saying yes because you can't bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work” – Seth Godin

I’ve always been involved in team sports so sharing success and having a sense of teamwork were engrained into me as what you do from a young age. The same principles applied at work since supporting colleagues was gratifying, sometimes necessary and a way for the team to grow. This mindset served me well until it got to a level where I started constantly putting the priorities of others ahead of mine. In a strange way I became more effective in my job when I learnt that saying “No” isn’t always a bad thing. 

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How to achieve the important outcomes

“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” - Tom Landry

In my line of work, I get to meet and support many workers who either have the right intent but struggle to make progress, who would like to do better or who are feeling overwhelmed. While 65% of executives say the overwhelmed employee is an urgent problem (Source: Deloitte Human Capital Trends report), a far greater percentage aren’t maximising their potential. How can you achieve more of the important outcomes?

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Worker stress is at its highest leading into Xmas

"A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work” - John Lubbock

Xmas for many workers is the start of the holiday period. Are you looking forward to the break or is your head mired in all the work that needs to be completed before Xmas? Besides work, there might be gifts to buy, functions to attend, a holiday to organise and so on. That sinking feeling of having too much to do could be a case of Déjà vu. But you soldier on convinced you’ll be more organised next year. The reality is you won’t unless you take specific action to break the cycle.

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Downsizing companies must invest in developing the remaining employees

Recently I wrote how we’re in the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will see automation, artificial intelligence, and robots make 5 million jobs obsolete globally by 2020. Last week Telstra CEO Any Penn announced that 1,400 jobs (approximately 4.5 % of the workforce) will be cut where “technology innovation and digital disruption are combined with the increased competitive pressures and the accelerated rollout of the NBN." These types of challenges aren’t isolated to a specific company or industry so we need to brace ourselves that job losses will happen across most sectors with some regularity.

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80% of your task list shouldn’t be there

Whether I’m talking to the most senior or junior person in an organisation, almost everyone seems to be busy. Delving into what’s causing the busyness, responses vary from vague to detailed or even confessions of tasks that aren’t critical to their role. However, an immediate justification reasons why they’ve got so many tasks to action. You see we lack clarity when we’re overwhelmed by too many tasks.

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NEVER work like Eddie McGuire

Eddie McGuire is one of the most recognisable and successful people in Australia. His is the story of a kid from a working class suburb who made the most of his opportunities through talent, tenacity and sheer hard work. Try to replicate the workload of “Eddie Everywhere” and most of us will fail. You see it’s the gruelling work schedule that sets Eddie apart from all but a small minority. 

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Burning out was the best thing to happen to me – but it won't be for everyone

I’ve never really been the best or smartest at anything but usually found a way to be effective through a strong work ethic. As I was promoted to more senior roles, my way of coping to the increased targets and responsibilities would be to essentially work harder. Then in 2006 everything changed while I had a job in a significant leadership position - I burnt out.

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Improve clarity to improve results

There’s an old saying about not being able to see the woods for the trees. I reflect on this because I think it’s hard to have clarity when feeling a sense of overwhelm. This is especially true at work. It would be less than ideal if a minority of workers felt overwhelmed but it’s a real issue when two-thirds of the workforce are overwhelmed. (Source: Deloitte 2014 Human Capital Trends Study).

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Don’t overcommit at work

Have you ever noticed when stretching an elastic band how it can go back to its original shape and length when you stop stretching it? Then you might stretch it repeatedly or stretch it a bit harder and it’s now a bit longer forever after having lost some of its’ original shape.  Finally, the rubber band might be stretched too hard repeatedly and it just breaks. And when this happens the solution is pretty simple because we just get another elastic band.  

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5 ways to reduce feeling overwhelmed at work

For a few years during the mid-1990s, Greg Norman (aka the Great White Shark) was considered the best golfer in the world, yet he constantly didn’t do as well at the majors. His most infamous performance occurred in the 1996 Masters when the Great White Shark entered the final day with a 6 stroke lead over Nick Faldo. Norman had a poor final round shooting a 78, while Faldo shot a 67 to win the green jacket by 5 strokes.

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