Last week in my blog, I wrote about increasing productivity by engaging people’s humanity by Starting with Laughter. This was the most quoted snippet:
If you respect people’s humanity and give them a chance to warm up and situate themselves in the context of what is happening, you are far more likely to build trust, get buy-in, and get people ready to do the hard work. Much more so than by just starting with the hard work.
Human vs. Work Robot
This week I wanted to further the discussion about humanity and answer a question that so many people ask me:
“Patty, how much do you sleep?”
I find it interesting that so many people want to know this about me. I’m always a little puzzled by it.
When I ask them why they want to know, I usually get a response like, “I bet you only sleep a couple of hours a night, because you get so much done.”
I love sleep
First and foremost…I sleep.
I love to sleep. I sleep 8-9 hours most nights. If I sleep 7 or less hours some nights during the week, typically on a weekend there will be a day when I sleep 10-11 hours to catch up.
I am terrible without sleep, I am not smart, I am cranky, and I look bad!
I think sleeping well also makes me generally less stressed and more healthy.
I don’t think sleep is a waste of time, at least not for me.
So how do I “Get so much done?”
It’s almost as if people want to think that I get a lot done because I have more time because I don’t sleep.
It’s not about having more time than others because I don’t need sleep. If I only needed 4 hours of sleep a night, I doubt that I would work more.
I’m just pretty clear about how I use my time. See also Busy is a Choice.
There are a few ideas here:
1. Productive Laziness
I wrote about this in my book RISE too, in a chapter called Productive Laziness.
It all starts with a refusal to spend more time on things than they deserve.
What I mean by productive laziness is, that if I find a task to be time consuming and annoying, the first time, I think, “OK that’s done. Don’t want to do that again.”
But if I end up having to do that same time consuming and annoying thing again, I get lazy. It doesn’t usually take more than one repeat for me.
I don’t just do it, Instead I think, “This is unacceptable, I will not continue to spend more time on this than it deserves. I need to find a way to either stop doing this, or create a process to automate it. I will never again waste this much time doing this annoying thing.”
Just because you can muscle through a lot of work and tasks, doesn’t mean you should.
You need to always ask the question, “How much time is this task worth?” and then create a way to do it in that allotted time. Or eliminate it entirely.
2. Schedule time
Where I make my elusive “extra time” is simply by claiming it.
If I want more time for something, I simply put it on my calendar.
This seems so obvious, but for example, one of the reasons that no matter how busy I am, I can still fit in time to exercise every day and practice Italian almost every day is simply because I schedule it.
If there are things in your life that you are not getting to, put them on your calendar.
I find that my schedule will shift around things I intentionally schedule no matter what they are.
When I was first a busy executive, I complained to a coach that I had no time to think. It was true. I was scheduled from 7am to 7pm every day, and people wanted breakfast and dinner meetings with me on top of that!
She told me, Patty, just schedule 2 hours a week to think. At first it seemed impossible but then she told me, “Patty, you are just not THAT important!” So I scheduled the time, and the world did not end. And I got my time to think.
Putting things on the schedule is very powerful.
3. Reduce glowing screen time
I am very conscious about how much time I spend looking at glowing screens outside of actually doing work on them, or actually doing something creative on them.
I find that if I don’t stop myself, hours in a day can go by with me mildly entertained by looking at a glowing screen. It’s very addictive. So I make sure to limit it. It’s a treat in the day, not a staple.
Also, NOT looking at a glowing screen 30 minutes before bed time helps you sleep! So I like that.
4. Ruthless Priorities
You didn’t think you would get out of this article without a mention of Ruthless Priorities, did you? One of the reasons that I appear to get so much done, is that I get important things done.
I promise you, I have an endless task list of things I would like to do that I don’t get done.
The things I get done — it’s because I make them Ruthless Priorities, and therefore I eliminate the risk of getting them done. There is also a chapter in RISE on Ruthless Priorities.
Not a work robot
I work normal hours and I sleep. I can do this because I always try my best to stay focused on not wasting time on low value activities–things that should be automated, or simply stopped, and then using my focused work time on the most important things.
I promise you, I procrastinate, I get unmotivated, I do waste time. I can spend whole days on the sofa and do nothing. When that happens, I record that as “a rest,” and then I start moving again the next day.
Being purposeful with your time is like exercise. When you practice it, you get stronger at it.
Start by putting time on your calendar to do something you want to get done. Then do it. Then take nap!
What do you think?
Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page.
Was this useful?
If you found this article useful, please help me share it with others and encourage them to subscribe to this Blog for free.
Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)