How to Get More Done. Really!

Are your life and leadership responsibilities overwhelming you?  Does it feel like “I’m too busy” is your permanent state of mind?  Do you long for something more helpful than just better time management?

You are not alone!

Let me tell you a story from way back in my grad school days (that’s 15 years ago, but whose counting?).  🙂  I was taking a course on Kione Greek (don’t ask why!), and part way through the semester, the instructor gave some advice that had a huge impact on how I managed my life, goals, leadership, etc.  He told the story of being near the end of his doctoral studies, feeling stressed about everything he had to do, and wondering if he should (and could) finish his degree.  His professor took him aside and told him perhaps he needed to not work as hard and to lower his standards.  What?  That sounds like crazy advice!  Who lowers their standards?

His prof continued, though, and said that whether my instructor graduated with 99% or 91%, it would make almost no difference in terms of his subsequent career and employability.  Was the extra 8% worth killing himself for?  Was he willing to sacrifice his family for that extra 8%?

Thankfully, the student (my instructor) concluded that no, that 8% was not worth the price he would have to pay, so he lowered his standards (and therefore his workload) accordingly.  He subsequently graduated with a PhD (and his sanity) and never looked back.  And now, he was standing in front of our Greek class, passing on the same advice to us.  He also said that in all of his contact with various universities, not once was he ever asked about the percentage he graduated with.  He had a PhD, and that was all he needed.  His professor was right.

I took my instructor’s advice, adjusted my self-expectations accordingly, and successfully earned both graduate and doctoral degrees as well.  Like my instructor, I’ve also never been asked my percentage (and in fact, I can’t even remember what it was!).  Turns out my instructor was correct too.

So … if you are keeping score at home, that little nugget of wisdom has been passed down from at least four generations, all the way to you.  Regardless of the context you live, work, or study in, is that extra 8% worth it?  Perhaps it is time to do some self-reflection and adjust your priorities.

If you want even more ideas about how to make simple adjustments to get more done, check out 14 Simple Ways to Get Considerably More Done at Inc.com.  It is a well written article full of good suggestions.

What do you think?  Do you have any stories of significant change in your life and leadership?

Mark

PS.  In the near future, I’m going to write about my own system of time and project management that is built on Gmail and is completely free.  I’ve developed and used it for a couple of years, and it has revolutionized my ability to get work done.  It is pretty good for a free and simple system!  🙂

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