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Don’t just settle for a good life … aim for a great life

Article by Mike Anderson (NSBC Founder & CEO)

Sometimes I come across some great stuff that stands out and makes good sense in managing our daily lives and in our quest to get ahead.

Here are seven strategies to do more great work and live more of a great life.

1. Define three things

It’s not a measure of success to check off 47 ‘to-dos’ in a day if you haven’t actually accomplished what matters most. Define the three high-impact actions you want to take each day, and list them as ‘all-day tasks’ on your calendar so you remember what they are.

2. Know who matters

The brutal truth is that if everyone else is happy, then it’s likely that you’re not doing Great Work. Great Work involves making choices, so you need to be very clear about who you want to say ‘Yes’ to and who matters less. Define your A-list (three people) and your B-list (five people) of who matters. You can consider saying ‘No’ (or at the very least a ‘slow yes’) to anyone not on these lists. As an added tip here, because it’s always tough to disappoint people, frame any feedback you might get as being professional not personal.

3. Say yes . . . slowly

It’s difficult to say ‘No’ in most organisations, but until you know how to refuse some of your Good Work, it will be difficult to say ‘Yes’ to more Great Work. So master the art of saying ‘Yes’ slowly. Rather than making it your default response, ask at least three questions before you make a decision.

4. Time your meetings

We all know that meetings can be an enormous waste of time and energy. Marketing guru, Seth Godin, famously doesn’t do meetings. But for those of us who have to, make how much time they’re taking obvious. At Google, a four-foot-high clock is projected onto a wall in their meetings, so people know exactly how long they’ve got to make their point.

5. Do a McKinsey

The consulting firm McKinsey & Company are famous for weeding out the bottom 10 percent of performers in their organisation every year. This ‘up or out’ philosophy is harsh but effective. Apply the same approach to your meetings. Figure out the most ineffective meetings you’re asked to attend and stop attending them. Ask to be sent a list of action items instead.

6. Disconnect

Our culture of relentless connectedness disrupts our focus and our ability to do Great Work. Find systems or structures to manage the relentless flow of emails, because answering 150 emails a day is no one’s definition of Great Work.

7. Change places

When you sit down at your desk at the start of the day and crank up your computer, you set your body and brain into Good Work mode: be productive and efficient. Great Work requires a different type of thinking. Find somewhere else to do your Great Work, another place in your office, an empty meeting room, the cafeteria, a coffee shop down the road. Changing the context will change the way you work.

Take this forward with you and let’s add to the magic in your success journey!