As he knotted his tie, the senior vice president saw his four year old son sheepishly sulk into the room.
The exec knew he’d been out of town too much. But, it was busy season, and he figured some day his son would understand. He tried to cram in as much family time as he could, but with such a hectic travel schedule, he had even started taking conference calls on Saturdays.
His son looked lonely. Disappointed too.
“Do you really have to leave town again, Dad?”
“I’m afraid so, kiddo.”
“But, why?,” his son asked, near tears.
“To make money. I’m leaving town for work,” the man replied.
“Why do we need money, Dad?,” asked his son.
“So, we can buy the stuff we need.” Noticing that he hadn’t convinced his son it was worthwhile, he added, “Plus, we need money so we can go on vacation and spend time as a family.”
All we want is more time to do the things we love. So, we set out to become “more productive” at doing the things we hate.
Instead of getting better at swimming through thousands of unfulfilling tasks a week, we must do less.
But, how? By doing less of the three biggest time sucks in your life: meetings, calls, and emails. You could make the world’s most efficient meeting agenda and you still wouldn’t save that much time. Even efficient meetings take up loads of time.
The best way to save time on meetings is to have fewer meetings. The same goes for calls and emails.
How do you know where to make the cuts? Follow these rules.
Three Simple Rules To Do More of What You Love
1. If you aren’t willing to leave your iPhone in the car during a meeting, cancel it.
Make it a phone call, if you must. Better yet, just cancel it. If you’re going sneakily glance at your inbox every time your colleague looks away, you’re wasting both of your time.
Remember, meetings done well are short, predictable, and purposeful. Keep only those. I’ll bet you can shave half the meetings off your calendar by following this rule.
2. If you aren’t willing to close your laptop during a call, cancel it.
Send an email, if you must. But, you can probably just cancel it.
Busy executives get lazy about calls. They wander through the dark, without an agenda. (If you just said, “What? Calls need an agenda?,” stop what your’e doing and consider a job as a telemarketer.)
A great length for a call is twenty minutes. If that amount of time isn’t enough to get your point across, you would do well to reconsider your point. It’s too wooly.
3. If you don’t have permission to send the email, don’t send it.
Seth Godin says you have permission if your emails are, “anticipated, personal and relevant messages delivered to people who actually want to get them.” He’s right. If your email is just an FYI, a needless cc, or a picture of a cat playing the maracas, do everyone a favor and don’t send it.
There’s a delightful side effect of sending fewer emails too: less email sent means less email received. Imagine how much time you’d save if you cut your email volume in half.
To do more of what you love, you have to do less of the other stuff. Get out a red marker and use these rules to eliminate unnecessary meetings, calls, and emails.
Then, go do what you love.