Monday, October 21, 2013

Quality vs. Quantity: Getting the Most Out of What Matters

As you may have noticed, it has been almost a month since my last blog post. A lot is going on in my life right now, which has taken me away from some of my normal and enjoyable priorities.

My last entry was about doing what you love, and what you love becoming just another j-o-b. For me, that is what a lot of things were becoming largely because I had overloaded my plate with activities. I would be lying if I said my plate was not still full; however, after taking some time off to re-evaluate what I was doing, how to do it better, but more importantly how to do it efficiently while also being effective, I believe I have found a good formula.

After talking with one of my best friends last night, she made mention that sometimes when we are very busy we begin to do tasks just to do them. Our brain begins to go on autopilot, and there is not much thought or heart put behind what we are doing. We are simply doing it to get it off of our To Do list so we can move on to the next item and if we are lucky,finish them all that day.

The problem with this method is that your quantity may remain high in the period of stress; however, the quality of what you are doing begins to be negatively affected. When your quality of work goes down the drain, the time (be it short or long) that you spent working on it was largely a waste of time. When you are extremely busy, the best thing that you can do for yourself is make the time you are spending on tasks WORTH your time. After all, your time is valuable and clearly if you are at this point there is not much wiggle if you are going to do it, do it right.

This might mean scaling back, even if you are like me and that idea scares the crap out of you. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a bit of a break. This does not mean quitting, rather re-evaluating where you can offer the most value at the given time with your given responsibilities and obligations. This idea falls back on the 80/20 rule: 80% of your results are going to come from 20% of your efforts. The trick that lies before you is deciding which tasks are your 20% that will yield you the highest results.

Here's how to do it: List your activities for the day and look them over. Which one of them will have a domino effect on other parts of your life? Which ones will move you in a positive direction towards your goals? Which ones MUST you do because they are an obligation?

My suggestion: If you have an obligation that stands in the way of you doing the activities you need to do to move you towards your goals (for example: grad school paper), get that over with first. It is the ugliest, probably most un-enjoyable item on the list, but if you get it done first the feeling of accomplishment you will have will propel you to dive into your next, hopefully more enjoyable tasks with heart.

In addition, once you have picked out the 20% of activities that will give you 80% of your results, work those next. And don't just do them to do them. Remember, the other tasks are not giving you 80%. Sure, they contribute here and there but they are not the "head honcho" of things you need to do. So rather than looking at them and thinking "I must get these done!" Stop. Breathe. And work on your 20% with a lot of thought, effort, and heart behind it. Put your time and effort into these tasks and watch it payoff...then you can go do the other small activities if there is time. By always focusing on what matters most, you can continue to move in a positive direction even when times are tough

Nicole's Method: I use the Reminders app on my iPhone for my daily To Do list. I write everything in there that I need to do for the next day (clearing out my brain before bed) and then when you click on the little "i" icon, you can add a priority to those items. My ugly obligations get highest priorities because I want them out of the way ASAP, then my 20% items get the next highest priority, and the trivial tasks that I would LOVE to get done, but if I don't it won't push me further ahead or make me fall behind get the lowest priority. I hold myself accountable to this list and resist the urge to go to the lesser priority items until they are the only ones showing on the list. I have found this works for me.

Do any of these ideas work for you? Do you have other ideas that you would like to add? Feel free to comment below and don't forget to follow me on Pinterest at Nicole Murray Fitness for various boards pertaining to how you can better your health, your fitness, and your life.

Make today awesome!

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