3 Key Questions to Doing More with Less

You’ve no doubt heard that adage, less is more. It provides a useful reminder to us that in many aspects of our lives, from eating to working, our very efficient human brains have a tendency to overcomplicate things.

But when it comes to being constructively product, less is again more. And I’m not just talking about clearing stuff off your to do list that isn’t important. I find that by really getting clear on my key priorities helps me just get to the good stuff. The 3 key questions I always ask myself are:

  • What do my customers most need?
  • What is driving my economic engine?
  • What is it that I truly enjoy doing?

Note that those questions are sometimes in conflict. (Ok, I admit – more often than not, they’re in conflict.) The magic is knowing in what to do to harmonize them.

Prequel: An Epiphany on my Travels

My business is travel. I am on the road maybe 25-30% of the time, which creates a time crunch. And I am a busy guy – with a plethora of websites and brands, a handful of people working for me, not to mention trying to keep up with my reading and a voracious fitness regime, most people wonder when I find the time to sleep. (It’s a good question – I’m not sure either.)

Before arriving at these three questions, I had an epiphany of sorts while on my travels. It was sort of along those lines of that cliché that “work expands to fill the time allotted to it.” I’ve heard that before and despite how much I’d like to think it doesn’t apply to me, it does. It is amazing that if a newsletter has to go out today, and I only have an hour before boarding a flight, it will take 59 minutes to get that newsletter out the door.

Some other specific less-is-more takeaways I’ve come to understand:

  • Batching is such a beautiful thing. I batch lots of types of work – guest posts (ahem), social media updates, copywriting. Bottom line is that you get more done in less time.
  • You can always be a bit more ruthless with those priorities. The bottom line is paying your rent and loving your customers. What are the top things you need to do just that?
  • Cut back on consumption. It’s no surprise I felt out of focus with my RSS reader open, Pandora blaring her latest recommended tracks, and tweets firing left and right. I’m feeling a lot more in control now that I have cut back on my consumption of all types of content. Make some space in that brain of yours.

Regardless, though, I keep coming back to those questions. They’re kind of important. (Forgot them already? Well, silly, scroll back up and write them down. Go on, I’ll wait.)

Further Reading

One book that does help hone in on the less is more thing is the book, Do More Great Work. There are plenty of other books on the subject, but I like this one because it makes good use of simple diagrams, worksheets, and pictures to help you not just absorb the content but dig in and start using it.

Oh, and don’t miss another Constructively Productive classic that’s relative to this topic, Why it pays to be idle. You can probably find the answers to those pesky questions if you stop and think for a minute.

Andy Hayes is known as “that travel guy” and author of the super-delicious SHERPA Magazine, a FREE monthly guide to what’s hot in business. He also helps aspiring business owners find the next step in starting their business.

Post image by Flickr user eye2eye

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