One of the productivity training tools of my Empowered Productivity System is how to handle the “shoulds” on your list. If you’re familiar with the Eisenhower Matrix, you know that one quadrant reflects “low importance, low urgency” items that you feel need to be done, yet you know will have very little impact on your life andyour work if you actually complete them. However, knowing this does not free your mind from worrying about them. These are thetasks that I have learned to call the “shoulds”: things that you feel like you “should” do, that weigh on your mind, and perhaps languishon your to-do list, typically out of guilt. You might think of them as the “monkeys on your back,” sapping your productivity.
Then there are the items that really need to be done in order for your life to run smoothly and according to plan, yet they aren’t nearly as important as other things on your list, and as a result, you just can’t seem to get them done. These include routine household chores like cleaning, laundry, and errands. They could also include business tasks like filing, event assistance, transcription, or data entry, and they often make you feel like your productivity
suffers if they don’t get done.
My advice for these “shoulds” and low-importance needs is to get help. If you are a busy professional and aren’t getting anyhelp in your life, whether it’s a cleaning person, some part-time admin or household help, or specialty services, then I think you are missing an opportunity to create the time and space to achieve your significant results. Some people call this delegating. I like to think of it as empowering yourself or someone else (in my time management training classes, I teach clients how and when to eliminate some tasks from their to-do lists). Offloading these tasks can be empowering in several ways. It can empower you by freeing you up to be productive in the things that you are best at, the things that only you can do, the things that will have an impact on your life or work if they get done – your significant results. It can be empowering once you’ve found a source to get that item done for you. It can be empowering to someone else because it can give them an opportunity to learn something new (for example, a staff person or intern) or gain a new customer (if it’s outside help).
There are many resources to get “just a little help,” whenever you need it. Websites like Elance and Guru provide specialty business services. Many colleges and universities have resources for college students to make extra money. Here in Austin it’s Hire a Longhorn. Other Austin resources are Avail Assistants and Let Kelly. There may be businesses like this in your town too. What might be my most favorite new service is Taskrabbit.
See if they are in your city and check them out. I think their business model is brilliant. The more “shoulds” and low priority items you clear from your list, the more you are free to do the things you’re best at; the things that offer you the highest payoff in your life; the things that you truly love to do – your significant results. For example, maybe you’ve been longing to start a part-time business doing something you enjoy. If you didn’t have to mow the lawn, organize the garage, or fix the leaky faucet on the weekend, you could devote the time instead to generating extra income from your hobby. What have you been wanting to do “as soon as you find the time”? Could unloading some of your “shoulds” create the time you’ve been looking for?
If you know of another service like those I’ve mentioned above, please add them to the comments! Thanks for reading!