Secret to a fulfilling life

Working efficiently also means that you’ll have time to enjoy with your family, and to develop new skills

It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed by your work. Working ever longer hours, and never finding the time for the things that really matter to you and your family.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Because you actually have a lot more control over how you spend your time than you think.

That control’s based on a really simple idea: focus on results.

Because only a few of the things you do each day really matter. So the trick is identifying the important ones, and concentrating on them.

Concentrating on results, not on being busy, is an important shift in emphasis. Like have you ever noticed how the most successful people seem to play a lot of golf? They’ve learnt to give their entire attention to what matters, and to put the rest aside.

So review your schedule and make sure you’re concentrating on what’s important. Is everything you do absolutely necessary? What are your key targets? What are the priorities and deadlines? Agree your goals with your boss, and make sure everything fits into your personal plan outside work as well.

Tackle challenging tasks in short sessions spread over several days. That way your subconscious can go on working on the tasks in the background.

You’ll find that each time you come back to a job it seems a lot easier, because your subconscious has solved some of the problems for you in the background.

Improve your concentration by removing distractions. Because your brain actually only processes one thing at a time, and it takes a short while for it to refocus on a new task. Which means you lose momentum every time you make a switch. So if you have something you really need to do well, minimising interruptions will greatly increase your productivity. Close the door, and put your phone aside.

In fact high achievers turn their notifications right off when they need to concentrate. Do the same with your emails and messages, because even just noticing them arriving will disturb your train of thought.

Make lists of all the tasks you need to carry out, and prioritise them so you can tackle the most important ones first. Different people use to-do lists in different ways. Like a lot of people motivate themselves by writing and completing a short list every day. Others keep one long list and chip away at it. But they’ve all learnt the main trick, which is to keep their focus on the things that matter.

Constantly update your task list and adjust your priorities as circumstances change, so you’re always tackling the most critical items first. That sounds trivial, but it works. Because it prevents you wasting time on stuff that’s unimportant.

Working efficiently like this means more than just gaining a little more free time. It also means that you’ll have time to enjoy with your family, and to develop new skills. And that could lead to a whole new life.