Tim Ferris (author of The 4-Hour Work Week) makes me look bad. I mean this guy… this GUY! So many hacks, so many short cuts, so much productivity and so many outcomes. It is high time someone decided to start copying him right? On reflection though, whilst I can look one way and feel bad about him, I can look the other way and make someone else feel that way too (about me).
In the last week I have been accused of being an ‘over achiever’ by three different people. I’m sure it’s meant in a slightly derogatory way, like, “You’re such a try hard” or “You make the rest of us look bad.” Yeah well, Tim makes me feel the same way. But really, what’s wrong with trying hard? If he is an over-achiever… compared with whom? We all have the same 24 hours in a day… and last time I checked Tim didn’t have super powers and nor did he have Hermione Granger’s ‘time turner’ spell sorted out (that loop she used to do a day over and over again in the Harry Potter series).
So, I reflect today upon some practices, some habits of high performers that are well worth copying. These come from the wealthiest individuals I coach, the most successful athletes I have worked with and from people whose books are bestsellers, (at least in New York, where it counts, right?)
1. Slow multitasking
High performers succeed over time – 10,00 hours of practice fitted into their days. They get the big stuff (those mammoth tasks) done by capturing it over a longer time frame. I write books this way – collecting one random idea at a time, keeping them in one place until they coalesce and eventually an idea comes together. Then the index page, then a few chapters, and before you know it, four years later your instant next book! Learn to cook one new ingredient at a time, learn to dance one 5-week course at a time!
2. Get absolutely clear about your commitments
When it comes to the sharp end of things – the things you really care about like your health, your wealth or your sanity – high performers make sure they are absolutely crystal clear about what they are, or are not going to do. Don’t leave a business meeting, or respond to an important email without making it totally clear to everyone what the actions arising are, and who is going to do them by when. Leave nothing to doubt, chance or procrastination.
3. Stop answering every question
US President Eisenhower, possibly the highest performing person in his time, famously developed a 2 x 2 matrix which categorised tasks into urgent / not urgent and important / not important. You’ve got four choices then – you do it, delegate it, diarise it or dump it! I’ll leave it to you to figure out how to draw that and where the titles go, but honestly, too much time is wasted on urgent and not important things like answering every single email, text, Twitter, Instagram notification you get.
4. Get a “To-Don’t” list
High performers have two lists. Many people have a To-Do list. I bet you did at least one this year. Hardly anyone has a To-Don’t list. You should have one of each, and it should be updated regularly, preferably every day, but minimum every week. What are the things you must stop doing, stop attending to, stop reacting to? By the end of this blog, go write up both.
5. If you’re going to do it, then do it
Don’t do anything for the sake of it. Stop complying or doing anything that starts with ‘should’ – you know… obligation. For example, do not turn up to a meeting that does not have an agenda (if you do, you are going because you should, because of who invited you). Don’t go through the motions. High performers never do that. If you are participating (and by that I mean you chose to turn up for it) – a graduation, an event, a film, a date, a picnic, a practice session, a course… then actually turn up and participate in it.
You don’t have time for more than that, and neither do I, so thanks for showing up to this blog… read it one more time then act!
This article authored by Robert Holmes, PCC, Director of Research, Neurocoaching Australia