(Eliminate, Automate, Delegate, Appreciate)
Not everything on your to-do list is meant to be done by you.
As you look at each task, does it fit all 3 criteria?
1. Enjoyment: You do (or wish to) enjoy doing it.
2. Expertise: You are (or wish to become) an expert at it.
3. Effect: This task has more worthwhile effects compared to other tasks you could do now.
If it passes all 3 checks, then the task is worth your action, with mindfulness and deliberate practice.
If it doesn’t pass all 3 checks, then you need to consider one of these 4 actions…
I’ll explain each.
The fact that you are reading about productivity means that you’re more conscientious than most people. You tend to carry a lot on your shoulders.
You have far more items on your to-do list than you have time for.
For your mental health -- and the opportunity to shift your time to what’s truly worthwhile -- it is time to practice eliminating tasks from your list.
“What if I need this later?”
...is the question that leads to clutter and overwhelm.
Instead, practice just getting rid of it. You’re practicing the all-important skill of simplifying!
When you feel the fear of missing out or losing out on potential opportunity, take a moment and reconnect with your limitless source of abundance within.
You might observe that you actually need to do relatively little, to be fine.
If you are still hesitating on deleting a task, quickly run it through the 3 criteria above: Enjoyment? Expertise? Effect? It must be a strong Yes, for all 3, to stay on your list.
Or at least, remove the due-date and have it go into a “someday / maybe” pile, so that it doesn’t keep bugging you.
If you see a task appear again and again — and it doesn’t meet the Enjoy, Expert, Effect criteria — then it’s time to either Automate or Delegate it.
Machines and software are getting increasingly more capable. Almost all of our “work” will become automated eventually. Studies are showing that huge swaths of human industry will be taken over by robotics and artificial intelligence.
Resistance is futile…
If you believe that the purpose of life has something to do with growing in love and wisdom, then we humans are being called to ever higher levels of work: To bring more creativity, caring, connectedness into our work, than machines can.
It’s time to stop doing tasks that don’t meet your Enjoy, Expert, Effect criteria. If the task keeps coming up, find a way to automate it.
A few examples:
If there’s no available technology to automate your recurring tasks that don’t pass your Enjoy/Expert/Effect filter, it’s time to hire someone to do it for you, if you have the budget.
To vet your own assistants and freelancers, there are two websites I recommend getting familiar with:
www.Fiverr.com — can do your graphic design, website creation / management, internet research, copywriting/editing, audio or video editing, spreadsheet improvement, transcription, all kinds of technological troubleshooting, and many other virtual tasks. For example, I used Fiverr to get book cover designs, convert my book to Kindle version and format it for paperback publishing, and edit/master my audiobook.
www.Upwork.com — a searchable directory of millions of freelancers that can do all kinds of things for your business. A couple of examples of my successful hires: Researching best places to live in Mexico; Tax prep and filing that is affordable, accurate, and fast.
The sky’s the limit as to what you can find on Fiverr and Upwork.
What about the low fees? Is it unethical? I’ll let you decide:
A software engineer in the Philippines, or Pakistan, both earn about $6 to $8 USD per hour.
If you could pay them $10/hour, allowing them to work as a freelancer, it’s a better lifestyle for them. Your money makes a much bigger difference in their life, compared to paying someone in a first world country.
A couple of helpful notes about outsourcing:
Another way of filtering out things you really shouldn’t be doing is to ask:
“What tasks am I resentful about?”
Make a list of such tasks.
If you must keep the task, can you Automate it?
If you can’t, then can you Delegate it?
If you can’t, then the only thing left is to Appreciate it.
Do your inner work, or work with a coach, to make that task something you can truly enjoy. I believe that any task can be made enjoyable if we are willing to open up to that possibility.
For more, read my other writings about joyful productivity.
The world will be a better place if we can each spend our energy doing the things we enjoy, want to be expert at, and are truly effective use of our time.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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