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“When you’re in content focus, you load a project into your brain and do everything related to that project,” says Stever Robbins, in his book Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More. “If you’re writing a report in content focus mode, you might spend the day writing, researching, calling people strictly about the report topic, brainstorming and editing. Even though you’re doing lots of different stuff, it’s all so deeply related that your brain can stay with that project for the whole day.”
Do you do that? Pick a project and work on it with the focus it deserves? This is one of Robbins’ many tips for working smarter. He then talks about task focus, which is grouping together tasks that require the same skills, such as returning all your calls, shopping, emptying your inbox and so on.
This book is funny, and if you struggle with time management you won’t find it difficult to dedicate the time required to read it. It’s a normal sized paperback, with over 200 pages, all filled with useful advice for people struggling to get things done in the normal working day. One of the most radical ideas in the book is from the CEO who charges her team $5 from their budget for each email she receives from them. “[T]he overload has gone down, the relevance of emails has gone up, and the senders are happy, too, because the added thought often results in their solving more problems on their own,” he writes.
One of the other useful tips about dealing with email is to delete everything, then go into your Deleted Items folder and rescue emails. There’s a different mental approach to rescuing things that have already been deleted. Your brain can be more picky about the things it really has to deal with. I think this is a great suggestion, although I keep my inbox at under 100 messages most of the time, so I’m happy with the way I handle emails. Still, if it ever gets too much, this is a great way to sift out what’s really important.
Robbins also presents a very mature response to dealing with awkward people who never do what they say they will:
If your job requires paper, Billy’s job is to reorder paper, and Billy never reorders. You can waste hours being upset, blaming Billy. It won’t help; blocking your paper order is Billy’s unconscious attempt to wrestle a tiny bit of power over an otherwise miserable life… You’re best choice is to take full responsibility and find other solutions… It would be easier if you could count on Billy, but you can’t. You can, however, take responsibility and do what it takes to help Billy succeed so you can get your job done faster.
This is the concept of radical responsibility that Nick McCormick covers in his book, Acting Up Brings Everyone Down.
Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More is more than just another book about time management. It’s an entertaining read, and it’s definitely going to show you some new ways to be more productive at work by focusing on the right things and doing them right.