Instead of trying to do more next year, what if you tried to do less?

When we’re new to the world of time management, we enjoy some quick wins. Cutting back from 6 hours of TV each day to 2 hours is going to yield lots of productivity. (I remember this early stage—doesn’t it feel great?) But time-management veterans should focus more on cutting non-crucial goals and obligations. There ain’t more than 24 hours in a day.

Try this exercise:

Picture yourself a year from today, reflecting on the past year. Imagine that you’re feeling proud of yourself for 1-2 major accomplishments over the past 12 months. What would they be?

Once you’ve identified 1-2 major accomplishments, think about what your life would need to look like in order for you to achieve them.

  • What would an average day need to look like? An average week?
  • What commitments would you need to cut out in order to consistently make time for these 1-2 projects?
  • What minor goals might dilute your focus and prevent you from achieving these 1-2 big ones?

As my friend Jerry remarked the other day, productivity tools are best used to “get stuff out of the way or help you do what you want to do - not just to do MORE things.” As you become more and more productive, ruthless focus becomes more and more important.

As you plan the upcoming year, focus on doing less but doing it at a higher level.