How To Get Your Work Done Stress Free

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By Carl Pullein. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

This week, we are digging deeper into the benefits of creating workflows and processes to ensure your most important work gets done on time every time.

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Episode 179

Hello and welcome to episode 179 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

Becoming better organised and more productive is a process. It’s not going to happen overnight and there is a lot of trial and error.

The first step is to get a system in place: one that ensures nothing is being missed and all your new tasks, events and ideas are being collected. In many ways, it is a bit like learning to walk then run. As a child, our first steps are slow, hesitant and there is a lot going on in the brain telling us to put one foot in front of the other while shifting our body weight from one side to the next.

Over time, this ‘process’ of walking becomes fixed in our brain and we no longer need to consciously think about doing it. We stand up. We walk. The only thought we have is I want a glass of water from the kitchen. We don’t need to plan out each step.

Well, the same applies to becoming better organised and more productive. Our first steps are hesitant. We have to think consciously about what we are doing and that can seem very counterintuitive if our designed goal is to have to think less so we can do more.

In this episode, I am answering a question around that process and development and hopefully what I say will give you some encouragement if you are finding the whole process of becoming more productive cumbersome and time-consuming.

While on this subject of building an unconscious process, just a little reminder that if you haven’t already got yourself the free areas of focus workbook, I highly recommend you do so.

This workbook was created to help you create that automation in your life by building in the things that are important to you so you have a lot less thinking to do on a week to week, month to month basis. Once you know what is important to you and what you need to do to maintain these daily, weekly or monthly actions, you will find yourself feeling a lot more in balance with your life as a whole.

The link to download the workbook is in the show notes.

Okay, it’s time for me now to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question.

This week’s question comes from Jason. Jason asks: Hi Carl, I’ve followed your COD and Time Sector systems and I love them. The problem I am having is it feels like a lot of effort just to keep everything up to date. I feel like I am spending too much time just writing things into Todoist and my calendar and not really doing my work. I enjoy it, but I know I need to spend more time doing work and not managing my work. How do you get your work done more efficiently?

Hi Jason, thank you for your question.

You didn’t say in your email how long you have been doing COD and the Time Sector System, so I will assume you are relatively new to these systems.

So, as I mentioned in the introduction, when we change our way of doing things—particularly if we have been doing something in a certain way for a very long time the new system can feel like it is taking a lot longer to do our work done.

Part of the reason for this is we have to consciously think about each step, whereas our previous system was just automatic. Even if you felt you did not have a system before, whatever you were doing to get your work done, you did it automatically. An urgent email came in, you panicked, and replied immediately leaving the original email in your inbox. That might not be a very effective way of managing email, but it worked, you replied and you got the job done—in the short term.

If you change the way you manage your email and instead of panicking when an urgent email comes in you consciously move it to an action this day folder, you a) have to think about it, and b) you have to consciously resist the temptation to panic and reply immediately.

Remember, nobody treats email as a form of urgent communication today. Your neighbour wouldn’t email you to tell you your car was being stolen, would they?

So, sure this new way of doing things will feel like it is taking more time…at first. Once, it becomes habitual not to panic when an urgent email comes in and you have confidence in the way you are doing things, it will feel a lot more effective and efficient.

As I have mentioned before in this podcast, the first habit you must develop is to collect. Most people only do this when they consciously think about it so they may collect around sixty per cent, the other forty per cent of stuff coming their way is still kept in their heads. Hopefully, by now you know this is not a great strategy.

Once you automatically collect everything into your trusted place—a task manager, notes app or notebook—you can move on to the next habit to develop. That is the organising. Where are you going to put all this stuff you have collected? And of course, that depends on how you have your system set up.

But beyond that, how do you make sure everything is working automatically?

Well here comes the advanced level—the part that goes beyond the basic structure.

Firstly you must know what your core work is—the work that pays your bills and earns your income. That work must be scheduled on your calendar and the micro-tasks involved in your tasks manager. Doing this work, whether it is calling ten prospects per day, writing 1,000 words of your next article, designing the images for the next marketing campaign or reaching out to five potential speakers for your next conference must have time allocated to it every day.

To give you an example of this. Let’s say you get a lot of important email and Teams messages each day and you calculate you need around ninety minutes each day just to stay on top of that, then wishing those emails and messages would go away or somehow you will miraculously find that time is not a great strategy. Getting realistic about how much time you need each day and allocating that time on your calendar for communications will ensure you have enough time every day and knowing you have time will take a lot of stress out of your day.

This, by the way, applies also to your core work. This is why it is essential to define what that work is. Artists create art, designers design, salespeople sell and teachers teach. There’s the clue to your core work. It’s the art you create, the designs you design and the sales you make. You must make time for doing that core work every day and that means you get it on your calendar.

Once you have a consistent schedule of work, that’s when things start to work smoother. That’s when you only need to make decisions about new stuff coming in and how that new, extra work will fit “around” your core work. And, that’s an important point there—this new, additional work must fit “around” your core work, not replace it.

Always keep at the front of your mind that your core work is what puts food on your table and keeps a roof over your head—a lot of this new additional work is work that will not directly affect your core work.

This only starts to happen when you are consistent with your work.

Let me give you an example of this in play. I grew up on a farm and I still have an interest in farming methods. When I was very very young, my father had a dairy farm. Now the cows had to be milked at 6 AM, so my father and his brother would get up, get the cows into the milking parlour and start the milking at 6 AM. That happened every day, seven days of the week.

Between 6 AM and 9 AM, it was milking time. Once the milking was finished, the cows were let out into the fields for the day and the rest of the day was spent ensuring the milk that was collected was prepared ready for the milk wagon (as we called it) to collect it.

There were never any meetings with National Milk Board representatives or machinery salespeople between 6 AM and 9 AM, no impromptu gossip time or checking that morning’s mail. It was getting on with the work, Collecting that milk was my father’s core work. It’s what ultimately allowed him to put food on the family table and keep a roof over our heads.

Time for meeting with Milk Board officials, salespeople and reading that day’s mail and news, was done once the milking was done.

That’s how you make your system work for you. Establish what is your core work. What work must you do every single day? Make those tasks recurring and get them fixed on your calendar.

This is how successful productive people become successful at what they do. They first identify their core work and the tasks that make sure that core work gets done. Things like prospecting for new customers, doing the design work and seeing patients and fix that before allowing other, non-core work into their workday.

Warren Buffett identified reading the financial news for several hours a day as how he would stay on top of the latest stock market and business trends. Guess what he does every day?

Your system starts to work when these core work tasks become just something you do. When all the people you regularly interact with know that you will be unavailable at certain times in the day—including your customers and bosses—because you are doing important work.

But to get there takes time. All new ways of doing things take time. I remember learning to play golf. Just to learn how to swing a golf club properly took several one-hour lessons with a golf pro. I didn’t just walk onto a golf course and hit the perfect tee shot. It just many hours to automate the swing.

And that’s what’s happening here, Jason. You’re learning to swing. It will take time, but through consistent practice, the results will be a much more effective way of managing your work, a lot better structure to your days and a lot more of the important work getting done and being delivered on time.

Once you have identified your core work, those tasks will become recurring tasks, so you are not having to write them out every day. You write them out and they repeat when they need to repeat.

The only tasks you will need to write out are the new tasks coming in and again you will soon get faster at doing it. You quickly learn the best way to write your tasks so they are meaningful and clear about what needs to be done.

So be patient. Stay consistent, you will soon get faster and many of the things you are thinking about when you write out your tasks, will soon just become automatic.

Thank you, Jason, for your question and thank you to you all for listening.

It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week.

211 episodes