Life has become much more complex than it ever was. We have many more options for literally everything. This can often become confusing, and actually reduce your productivity. Have you ever sat down to watch a movie on Netflix, then spent an hour looking trying to make a decision, then giving up all together on the movie idea. This overwhelming array of options can make leading fulfilling lives very difficult. All too commonly people will start a task, then before its complete open another app and start another task. This means that few tasks ever reach completion and if they do, they actually take longer and require more effort and brain power. I believe the concept that energy and will power is finite. We have a finate amount of will power with which to complete each day. We therefore need to use this energy economically to maximise efficiency, doing and achieving more in less time.
Working full time as a surgeon, teaching and lecturing, writing blog posts, scientific articles, and maintain my hobbies (e.g video and photography), I have had to master this. Below are my tips for doing more with less.
- Do what can be done in the moment
This essentially means avoiding procrastination. If a task arises, that can be completed immediately, in that moment or that morning or afternoon, do it then and there. This means that you do not have to spend energy or time trying to remember to do it later. It often gets forgotten and may be a source of unnecessary stress. If its sending an email, completing an online search, filling and signing documents, finishing an article, just do it and move on.
- Keep to do lists
This may not be for everyone, some actually are strongly against lists and can often feel trapped. However me personally, my whole life is co-ordinated by my multiple to do lists. I like sitting down and working my way through my tasks in order of priority/importance/deadlines. That way important things don’t get forgotten, and easy and quick tasks can be done on the go, in between meetings etc. I will literally grab a coffee and sit down for 30 minutes and work my way through my to do list. I like most list keepers actually get a nice fulfilling shot of dopamine each time a task is ticked off. This simple action revolutionised my productivity.
- Use your evenings
This sounds simple, but you would be amazed how many lost hours you have at night. Of course rest and down time is important. However, if you switch off the second you get home from work or school, and melt into a pool of Netflix viewing mess, you a destined for a life of mediocre. To get to the next level, its simple, you need to do more. I firmly believe in the saying “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten”. So if you have something you are trying to learn or achieve, if you can harness even 1-2 hours consistently every evening and commit to that single goal, you will be amazed the effect it will have on your output. This also goes for the morning. Rather than late starts, if you can get up 1 hour earlier and commit that time every day to a particular hustle or goal, the effect can be profound. Little and often is the key!
- Utilise Technology
Surprisingly there are people who do not like technology. If you can become savvy with computers, tablets, apps etc, it can seriously make you a wizard. Being able to open your iPhone and edit a picture, video or article etc on the subway, unsurprisingly will revolutionise your ability to get things done. I personally invested in a thin and light MacBook, that I can carry around anywhere. I will whip it out at work, at Starbucks, or while waiting literally anywhere, and power through my to do lists. It costs a little money, but without this investment, I would not be able to do half of what I do.
- Sit at a desk
I’m not entirely sure why this works so well, but for me there is absolutely no doubt that if I sit at a desk for 30 minutes, I will be significantly more productive than if I sat on the sofa. I think in part it is also because it removes you from potential distractions, and places you mind and body in work mode, helping you stay more alert. Having a designated work space that you actually enjoy sitting at is even more effective.