Book Talk: 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More – Part II

BOLD recently sat down with business expert Stever Robbins to discuss his latest book, “Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More.” Stever is the director of the Babson College Collaboratory and host of “The Get It Done Guy” on the Quick and Dirty Tips network.

To read the first part of this interview, published on October 12, click here.

BOLD: Discuss your idea of the life map. How will this help entrepreneurs keep themselves focused on the next step, and not unnecessary work?
A life map is a goal ladder that includes your personal life. I invented it by accident, to explain the logic behind my business projects to a summer intern. A goal ladder wasn’t enough; my business only made sense when considered in the context of my life goals. My life map is a filter and focus tool. When a new opportunity pops up, I ask where it goes on my life map. Is it a new business? A new strategic initiative? A new project? A new task? If it doesn’t fit, then it represents a major life change to take it on. That’s a signal that it’s actually a distraction.

Even if a new opportunity fits, if the opportunity would require starting up a whole new line of business—as opposed to just starting a new project—then I think twice before committing to that kind of effort. A life map can also help you discover you’re in a different business (or life!) than you thought. I re-drew my map for the first time in a year. Much to my surprise, it showed many of my business initiatives lining up behind some personal dreams I’ve had for years but never acted upon. Realizing that explicitly has led me to begin pursuing those hopes and dreams directly.

BOLD: You named Chapter 2, “Stop Procrastinating,” and Chapter 6, “Stop Wasting Time.” What is the difference?
Procrastinating is putting off something you’ve decided is important to do something you know is less important. Like Farmville. Farmville is almost always less important. Wasting time is spending your time in activity that seems meaningful but isn’t. We usually have a good story about how useful an activity is, so we do it, even though it’s not helping us reach our goals. Perfectionism, making unimportant decisions, and trying to achieve “inbox zero” are all examples of wasting time.

BOLD: What piece of advice in this book do you use the most?
SR: I use most of the advice in this book on a daily basis, but that’s just because I’m an organization geek. At the micro level, using engineering graph paper to organize complex tasks is probably the tip I use the most. At the macro level, my life map is what keeps me attuned to the big picture even when lost in the details. … I would like to use the advice about rewarding myself with Oreo ice cream cake more frequently, but my trainer Tyler would not approve. And trust me, we don’t want to get Tyler mad.

BOLD: What is the most important message from your book?
SR: Live and Work on Purpose.  Self-improvement and personal productivity is only useful if it gives you the life you want. Ask why you’re reading the book. Do you want more free time? A  cleaner room? A life aligned behind your deepest values? Knowing your goal makes it easier to apply the advice and make that goal a reality.

BOLD: Can you give us one piece of advice that will benefit all entrepreneurs?
Remember your highest level goals, why you’re in business in the first place, and keep the company oriented towards that. Be flexible enough to respond to the unexpected. Exploiting the unanticipated is often a huge advantage small companies have over large, but keep on track behind your highest goals long enough to get the traction needed to build a business. Have fun, smile a lot (it makes the world a nicer place for everyone) and for goodness’ sake, only check your email twice a day. Not only will the world not come to an end, but you’ll work less, do more, and have a great life.

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