Do More by Doing Less

I have written often about setting goals and the tools and practices to help achieve those goals.You could say it is my passion to help others develop a road map to unlock their full potential.  Most people have set goals of some kind: either personal goals, goals at work, or goals for your business if you are an entrepreneur. Most people have too many goals; and often those goals are not written S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound)-if they are written down at all.

Why does any of this matter? It doesn’t if you have no desire to get more from your life or your business (or both). But if you want to get more;  from your business, from your life, from your passions or hobbies; then this matters a great deal. If you want to get more done, you need to do less.

Early on the journey with my clients, we will set their first set of Rocks. In EOS, we use the sticky term Rocks for our 90-day business priorities, our quarterly goals. Inevitably, the list of “most important things” that need to get done in a quarter is long. Too long. We know from many years and thousands of clients that it’s really hard and almost impossible to get 12 really important things done in the next 90 days (unless you go on vacation to accomplish your Rocks!).  With much encouragement and cajoling, we strive to whittle that list down to a more manageable number (between 3-7; closer to 3). 

When I encounter significant resistance, I pull out the big guns: math and reason. I ask the leadership team what will happen if they keep all 12 Rocks and only accomplish five, what are the odds that those were the most important 5? Not so good, they agree. Next, I ask if we could prune that list of 12 to say six or seven, and you still only managed to complete five of them, what are your odds those were the most important five? Right. Significantly higher. When everything is important, nothing is important. 

How do we whittle down to five? We debate and decide (we use a process called Keep, Kill, Combine). What are the most important things that you should be doing to move you towards your long term goals?  Make a list of all the actions, tasks and projects you are attempting to achieve for this quarter. How many of these are critical to reaching your destination? Invest the time to determine the handful of “most important”  goals or Rocks to tackle this quarter. Be clear on the desired outcome; there should be no wiggle room in 90 days to answer the question is it done or not done. In other words, write them S.M.A.R.T.

Now here’s the kicker. Make these your priority! I have had clients say to me, “My Rocks seem like extra work on top of my regular work.”  With perhaps more passion than is necessary, I say to them, “We just spent several hours determining that these were the MOST IMPORTANT priorities for the next 90 days to achieve your vision for this year and beyond. How can the most important things be the ‘extra work’? I encourage them to look at their ‘work’ through a different lens; to help them clear some clutter from their day to day. What about you? Are there things you are doing that are not moving you towards your goals?

I went through similar growing pains when I began implementing Rocks in my personal life.They did initially feel like extra work. I took a big step back and realized many of my activities were providing little progress toward my goals. It is easy to miss the big picture when we are schlepping around in the weeds.  But if you truly want to achieve great things, you must discipline yourself (and your team) to manage their priorities and eliminate some of the noise that interferes with your greater purpose. 

When you are ready to get more done, just remember: less is more. 

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