Is it possible to work less and still impress your boss, wife, husband and friends? In other words, is it possible to do less and accomplish more? Everyone seeks the answer to this question. We all want to generate the greatest noticeable impact with the least amount of effort, as quick as possible. It’s the way of the modern knowledge worker. We strive to work smarter, not harder.
The answer to the question is: YES! With the right combination of skills, tactics and tools, you can work less and still impress. It requires thinking outside of the box… and then implementing strategies that directly increase the visibility, impact and “wow-factor” of your labors.
The list below is not comprehensive, but leads in the right direction, providing six basic strategies geared for increasing your impressiveness without increasing your workload.
- Learn Skills Few People Know – Find a niche function (or two) that’s currently in high demand and master it. If very few people can perform this needed function, your effective value to others will skyrocket into the stratosphere. You will become the “go to guy”. Even if it’s only a temporary gig, you will be able to make a significant impact in a short timeframe. And if you play your cards right, you will find yourself doing less actual work and getting 10 times more credit for your efforts.
- Provide Value from Within a Black Box – Mystery is a huge proponent of impressiveness. In order to achieve the ultimate level of impressiveness your efforts must make someone think, “Wow! How does he/she do that?” They can easily see your inputs and your results, but aren’t 100% sure how you got from point A to point B. In other words, you have to provide (or innovate) tangible value without disclosing the specifics of the mastery. This is similar to my point on learning a rare skill, but instead relies more on emotional curiosity and less on the end result. Human beings are curious creatures. If you can give them something they want while simultaneously stimulating their curiosity, you will always be more impressive than the guy who cranks out the most widgets.
- Focus More on Less – A jack of all trades may do very well in life, but supreme impressiveness is achieved via specialization. Elite expertise attracts attention much faster than a run of the mill juggling act. This is because gradual increases in skill level have an exponential effect on the public opinion of overall impressiveness. Think in terms of Karate: A black belt seems far more impressive than a brown belt. But does a brown belt really seem any more impressive than a red belt? The bottom line: Society elevates experts high onto a pedestal. Hard work matters, but not if scattered in diverse directions. Focus on mastering your trade.
- Only Use Quality Tools – Trying to cut through a thick piece of fresh lumber with an old, dull handsaw would be a pretty foolish endeavor. You would have to work extremely hard to make the even the slightest impact. This principle applies to everything in life. Don’t let inefficiency defeat you. If the tools in your toolbox don’t fit the requirements of the job, find someone who has the right tools and barter with them, hire them, invite them into the process. Possessing the right tools (and skills) can easily shrink a mountainous task into a molehill.
- Always Under-Sell to Over-Deliver – The crooked salesman constantly over-sells the capabilities of his product. He sets the bar so high that the product ends up falling short of his client’s expectations. If you want to boost your impressiveness, do the exact opposite. Slightly under-sell your capabilities (or product, service, deadline, etc.) so that you’re always able to over-deliver. It will seem to others like you’re habitually going above and beyond the call of duty.
- Follow the 80/20 Rule – The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your results come from just 20% of your efforts. If you can identify and focus on the 20% that matters most, you can be more productive (and impressive) without increasing your workload. Try to automate or delegate the less productive 80% whenever possible. When random emails and phone calls start pushing you off course, remind yourself of the 80/20 rule and make an immediate course correction. If an emergency arises and you absolutely need to eliminate something from your schedule, make sure it’s not part of the vital 20%.
Photo by: Parker