top 10 lazy ways to get things done

Over the past 13 months, I’ve blended parenting into what I thought was an already challenging work-life mix. Since July last year, my kid has grown from being a defenseless newborn to now an assertive toddler.

Along with parenting, I’ve kept a thriving law practice and continued to coach, write and speak on creating a purposeful and enriched life. My marriage, relationships, and friendships also remain top priorities. Then there’s my taking weekly piano lessons, learning music theory, and mastering contemporary to classical pieces. And while I no longer practice yoga, tai chi, or meditation daily, I still turn to them when I need that extra glow.

Objectively, my work-life mix is by no means extraordinary (other way more productive, creative, successful people get tons more done). But personally, it keeps me fulfilled and moving toward my BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals).

Although I sometimes wish I had more than 24 hours in a day and the energy of iron man Rich Roll, I mostly rely on “lazy” way to get things done. Here are my top 10:

10. Work in short bursts. This could mean 90 minutes of work followed by a 15-minute break. Or it could involve breaking down your work in 25-minute blocks with short breaks in between. Or you could set aside just ten minutes to perform the task.  When time’s up, stop and move on to something else (or keep going if you’re in the zone).

The energy and attention you bring to the task is just as, if not more, important than the time you spend on it. Limiting your work hours often leads to sharper focus.

9. Complete big journeys in tiny steps. Whether you’re setting up a new business, creating an online course, or writing a book, chip away at it in easy, micro steps.

Break down the big project into small, actionable to-dos. Then take the first step and the next one. Find your ideal teacher. Sign up for the art class. Go to class. Buy the watercolor paint brushes. Fill out the canvas.

8. Embrace “good enough.”  You don’t always have to impress your friends and enemies with epic, ground-breaking stuff. Save your best work for when excellence counts. Forget about crossing all your t’s and dotting all your i’s in a routine report that everyone just skims.

Tolerate tiny mistakes. Accept your limitations. Do the job well enough to keep your clients, build your reputation, and avoid getting fired. But don’t expect to execute perfectly every single time. Perfectionism will drive you mad.

7. Make it a habit. Reduce decision-making fatigue by narrowing down your options, making repeatable and satisfactory choices, and following routines. President Obama wears only gray or blue suits because, as he told Vanity Fair, “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Willpower is a limited resource. Maintaining self-control can be exhausting. Routinize the mundane areas of your life. Develop healthy habits and break bad habits. So you don’t have to think and work so hard.

6. Get help.  Delegate. Barter. Hire someone. Stop micromanaging and trust your team to figure it out on their own. Accept help – especially when it’s free, reliable, and offered with enthusiasm and no strings attached.

5. Take a break. When you’re feeling depleted and drained, getting the caffeine boost or sugar rush isn’t truly what you need. A weary body is often a wake-up call to get more sleep. Nap whenever and wherever you can.

Don’t disrespect your inner energy with artificial stimulants. Invigorate yourself naturally. Step outside for some fresh air. Listen to the birds and the trees rustling. Stroll at sunset or walk in the moonlight. Sit quietly and meditate. Or go for a run or hop on your bike. Taking a break gets you recharged, refreshed, and ready to take action.

4. Put things off.  Deliberate delay isn’t necessarily unproductive. It can lead to an extra burst of energy or add to your sense of urgency to get the thing done. If you work well and deliver good results under external pressure, putting things off until the last minute does little or no harm.

Procrastination works in many situations.  It can also cause you to lose projects that weren’t right for you, didn’t matter to you, or didn’t capitalize on your strengths. (Good riddance!) Sometimes what looks like procrastination is really incubation (i.e. your mind is preparing for work and you’ll snap into action when the time is right).

3. Do what you feel like doing. Permit yourself to just do what you want to – at least for an hour each day. Ease up on the self-imposed deadlines, let go of obligations, and drop the productivity rules. (You can get back to them later if you must.) Think about what excites you, gets the creative juices flowing, and lights your fire. Then do that thing.

2. Do less. Simplify and shrink your to-do list. Have just three main things to do on a given day. Focus on only three big goals in the week. Do one thing at a time. Declutter your life so you have one less thing to do, clean or maintain. Buy wrinkle-free clothes so you don’t have to iron much. Stop buying stuff unless it’s absolutely beautiful and/or useful to you.

Doing less frees you up to create your best work and deliver top-notch results on the things that matter. It makes room for interruptions, distractions and emergencies that are bound to come up. Don’t commit to anything else when you’re working on a major goal that deserves your undivided attention.

1. Do nothing. Many things take care of themselves and get resolved without your interference. There’s often no need for you to send a reminder note or make a follow-up call. The package arrives at your doorstep when you’re home. The approval letter you’ve been waiting for eventually comes in the mail. Your client sends the exact information you need to finalize the project.

Step out of the way and let things happen naturally.

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This top 10 list is not for those who are lazy in the traditional sense.  It requires a more focused and conscious approach to productivity. Instead of being super busy all the time, you get to decide what really matters and get those things done at the right time.


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Photo by: ShellyS