I sometimes like to review books that I feel are helpful and fit into my goal of helping people reach their lifetime potential. A book that I feel fits into that category is by Stever Robbins and is titled Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More. I am a fan of the quickanddirtytips.com site where Stever’s work can be found. Also on that site is the Grammar Girl, Girlfriend MD and House Call Doctor. I often send my students to the Grammar Girl site as I think it has a ton of helpful grammar tips, written in a fun and more entertaining style.
Robbins book, 9 Steps to Work Less and do More, is also written in a very informative style. He writes about many of the things that I also write about in my books (The Online Student User’s Manual and How to Reinvent Your Career) including time management, goal setting and more.
I thought I’d point out some important things that he writes about in his 9 steps.
Step 1: Live on Purpose
In his book, Stever stated, “If you’re anything like me, a lot of what you call work has very little to do with getting anything important done in life.” I think this is a very important statement because I see a lot of my students and people I work with who seem busy but don’t really accomplish anything. One thing that Stever writes about in this section that I feel is extremely important is that your actions should match your goals. We all see the busy person who works the 80 hour week and yet are they really working smart or are they just working hard? It is very important to have goals and to be sure that you are doing the appropriate actions to meet those goals. What is nice about Stever’s book is that he gives nice examples and step by step explanations of “how” to get to where you are going.
Step 2: Stop Procrastinating
Procrastination can be a big problem for a lot of people. In the book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, that I co-wrote with Toni Rothpletz, I mentioned that I am a qualified Myers-Briggs instructor. One of the most interesting things I found out about personalities is that about the people who like to wait until the last minute. Some people actually naturally do better work at the last minute if they have a “P” personality as assigned by the MBTI personality assessment instrument. While I agree with Stever that it is important to turn tasks into habits to stop procrastinating, there are some people who have a high “P” personality who actually work better when they are under pressure and have deadlines. The only thing I would add to what Stever writes about here, is for those of you who have taken a personality assessment similar to the MBTI and found that you are a “P”. If you are a high “P”, you should set time managed goals for when your project or activity should be completed. “P” personalities seem like they are procrastinators because they wait to do things, but if they have a goal to do things that they know they must meet, they are more apt to do that thing by that timeframe.
Another thing I like about Stever’s book is he writes about breaking things into baby chunks to make goals seem more manageable. I often write about this in my blogs and my books. It is like the movie with Bill Murray “What About Bob” where they talk about doing baby steps. In my book The Online Student’s User Manual, I wrote, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It is a goofy saying but it is also very true. If you are a procrastinator, it may help you to think of a big project as smaller more manageable pieces. I find this helps my doctoral students quite a bit as writing a dissertation can be overwhelming. By thinking of it chapter by chapter, instead of an entire project, it can be less intimidating.
Step 3: Conquer Technology
In Stever’s book he mentions he used a PDA for a year and then reviewed whether the promised benefits were actually beneficial. I personally like to use iGoogle to keep track of a lot of my information. I often recommend this to my students and have written about it here on my blog. I think technology can be frightening for many but sites like iGoogle are very user friendly and can be accessed from many locations. You can keep your Calendar, Address Book, etc. there as well as your RSS feeds and many other things to keep you organized.
Step 4: Beat Distractions to Cultivate Focus
I liked Stever’s suggestion of keeping an interruptions list. I tend to do that a lot as well. I am the type of person that has things pop into my head often. This is not so great when it happens at 2 am! However, I like to write down any ideas I have on a piece of paper and get back to them later. The trick is to write them down and then get right back to what you were doing so that you don’t jump around and be all over the place. Instead you keep your focus.
Step 5: Stay Organized
In this chapter, Stever covers the all important area of having organization skills. I happen to be pretty good in this area naturally but I see a lot of people really need help with this. I have taught time management skills to organizations where we discuss keeping track of emails, only looking at mail once and prioritizing. This is the type of thing he gets into in this chapter. He does a nice job including examples of checklists, etc. to get his point across.
Step 6: Stop Wasting Time
This chapter is a very important one as far as I am concerned. I have seen so many people who plan the plan to plan the plan and never get anything done. People are not aware of how much time they waste. I often have my first year college students map out a 24 hour period of time to write down exactly what they do every hour. It can be enlightening for them to see how much time they really waste. Stevers mentioned to be sure that what you are doing is actually work. I was surprised by how many people I have worked with that thought they were doing work but were actually doing things that were wasting their time. I am a huge fan of multi-tasking. Many people over-look the importance of this skill. When I was cold-calling in a sales job, I could type my notes while I talked to the people on the phone. Other sales people would talk on the phone and then type their notes. I could make twice as many calls because I could multi-task. Are you multi-tasking whenever possible? You could free up a lot of time by doing so.
Step 7: Optimize
Are you doing things more than once? Are you efficient or just effective? I see a lot of perfectionists who are very effective but lack in efficiency. There needs to be a balance. Stever mentions the importance of knowing when to get expert help. Sometimes you can do it all and you have to learn when to delegate or ask others for help. He recommends creating resource books as your learn new tasks to refer to later for help on things you have learned.
Step 8: Build Stronger Relationships
I like how Stever mentions you can’t there alone. I completely agree. There are so many people and resources out there to help you. I know I personally have found Linkedin helpful to meet people who have given me some excellent advice and direction. I highly recommend checking out their Q&A area as well as joining some of their groups. Don’t just join though; you must participate in order to the most out of it.
Step 9: Leverage
In Stever’s final chapter he writes about making sure to leverage in order to get results. He explains using automation to get leverage. There has never been a better time to use technology and automation to your advantage. He mentions combining rather than multitasking to get things done. I think there is a time for both. Many people get confused as when to combine and when to multitask. In this final chapter, Stever gives some excellent suggestions for ways to obtain the results you desire.
I highly recommend that you check out Stever’s book. In it, he covers each of these topics in much more detail and gives great examples and specifics about how master these steps.