Work-life balance: How to accomplish more in less time

Achieving a healthy work-life balance can be challenging at the best of times, let alone for business owners or entrepreneurs seeking to get their startup idea off the ground.

Being more productive at work and accomplishing more in less time can pave the way to more recreation time, however this is, of course, easier said than done.

Having a tried-and-tested productivity system in place will help to streamline your work processes, but how do you go about implementing this?

Author and blogger Chris Winfield details his methods for improved productivity at Thrive, writing that he “had to start completely over and change everything”, and is now able to get more done in under 17 hours than he previously would have in 40.

“After reading enough personal productivity books and blogs to choke a great white shark, and trying them out in my own life, I found a combination of bits and pieces that fit together beautifully,” Winfield writes.

Put more time into planning

Smarter planning will lead to more efficient work processes.

Winfield stresses the importance of putting time into planning, writing that his system revolves around “four basic concepts”: Dream It, Dump It, Map It, Chunk It.

“One thing that I have learned is that if you put time into planning and being very clear about what is most important in your life (for the big picture and day-to-day), everything else is easier,” he writes.

“You can work a lot less because you are truly working smarter and clearer.”

So, what are these concepts?

Time to dream

How do you envisage your ideal life? It’s time to address your ambitions.

Some of your goals may seem far-fetched, and Winfield recommends a self-imposed page limit (in his case one page), focusing on the most important details. It may also not be immediately apparent how you will achieve your goals, but it is important to recognise what they are.

Determining what should and shouldn’t make your list may be challenging, and Winfield recommends asking questions such as: would the goal still be reachable without a certain step included, and what sort of implementation approach and tasks will be required.

Remember also that a lot can change, potentially in a short time.

“I don’t think for a second that I can predict what is going to happen in five years or even next year or next month,” Winfield writes. “I simply have a clear goal of where I want to be and who I want to be, and then simple plans to help guide me there.”

Write it down – write it all down

It’s time to unload, put everything in writing – be it a digital document or a notepad in your desk drawer.

From here you can refer to your one-page plans, “organise, divide into projects, and set in motion the plans and tools to let you conquer each”.

“Set yourself free – dump it all into a physical notebook, Google Doc, or whatever you want it,” Winfield writes.

“Write it down and get it out of your head. The space this opens will do wonders for your ability to focus on what you’re engaging in, letting you stay present in the moment.”

Winfield stresses the importance of the destination, setting in motion a means to achieve your goals.

Delve into the specifics

Start addressing the specifics and what needs to be done, and plan ahead for the coming days and weeks.

Winfield favours the Getting Things Done work-life management approach, using a kanban inventory management method to implement it.

The kanban can help you keep track of your upcoming and completed tasks, tracking their progression.

“Your kanban board is where you look throughout the day whenever you complete a task, or when you feel the need to pause and reflect on your work flow,” Winfield writes. “Along with your weekly reflection on your mind map, this will keep you on-task, doing the right things and finishing them.

“Of course, your process and flow may be such that you need to revisit your mind map more frequently, or less. As with all productivity processes and tools, it’s up to you to find the best way for you to manage yourself.”

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