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4 Ways to Work Smarter in 2020

400 emails a day. 30 calls and meetings a week. Fires burning all the time. 134 things on my to-do list. Here's how I will work smarter in 2020.

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400 emails a day. 30 calls and meetings a week. Fires burning all the time. 134 things on my to-do list (yup, I just counted).

I spend at least 75% of my time in reaction mode. That means I spend 75% of my time working on other people’s priorities rather than my own. It is really, really hard to walk away feeling there is so much more to do and so much that requires response and attention and give myself the time and space to focus on the strategic parts of my business and my goals. In 2020, that has to change. And I have a plan.

First, I will get better at identifying mork. “Mork” is a word I made up. It is a conjunction of “more” and “work” as in “is that something we need to do or is that just more work?” Mork refers to something that might seem like a good idea at first but, upon reflection is either process for process sake or a project that doesn’t drive to our core objectives. As a self-professed idea junkie and someone who loves neat and tidy processes, I can sign off on a whole lotta’ mork if I’m not really careful. For 2020, less mork.

Second, I will politely decline requests for conversations and meetings that neither move me towards my goals nor fuel my spirit. Of those 30 calls and meetings, how many move the needle, educate me or inspire me? Maybe half. For 2020, I will practice my “no” muscle. A lot.

Third, I will find a way to manage my email traffic. This has been the bane of my professional life and it is only getting worse. For 2020, I am going to: (a) empower my assistant to respond to at least 50% of the emails that come in; (b) surrender my type-A need to respond to everyone and everything; (c) carve out specific, limited time specifically to respond to emails and avoid the constant interruption of checking in and responding to the “easy ones” right then and there.

Finally, I will make space to think more deeply, deliberately and intentionally about the work I am doing, the goals I have and the impact I want to make. The key will be to carve out time and aggressively protect my mental bandwidth. That means a daily walking practice in which I use that time and space to decompress, think through challenges and generate ideas and solutions.

It means I will practice what I preach.

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