Here are a few ideas on how to do less and get more done.

By Kent Mulkey

When my kids were young, they would receive the regular weekend call from my mother, The General, always after them to be active and accomplishing something.

A typical phone call went something like this:

Grandma: “What are you doing today?”

My daughter: “Nothin’.”

Grandma: “Nothing?”

My daughter: “Yep. Nothin’.”

Grandma: “You mean you are not even breathing?”

My daughter: “Breathing is involuntary.”

Of course, it is virtually impossible to do nothing. Yet, most people appear to do too much — staying hurried and busy, even boasting about it as if they are world’s greatest martyr — leaving it all on the field for the sake of the company, which will mostly backfire.

Do Less, Get More Done

Here are a few ideas on how to do less and get more done:

  • Keep your schedule open and available to people. When I was an ED, I scheduled meetings for a maximum of four hours a day so that I could be available for impromptu and sometimes urgent conversations with staff and residents.
  • Slow down. You will end up getting more done. Slow down so you can think, process and problem-solve. You will have greater clarity and the ability to prioritize.
  • Work fewer hours. People who know a lot about this stuff tell us that any work done after 55 hours per week is mostly wasted time. 40% of the American workforce works more than 55 hours a week, often leading to heart disease and sometimes an early death. You may not know it now, but even you have limits.
  • Complete tasks as efficiently as possible. It is easy and perhaps comfortable to spend time drowning in paperwork, reports, phone calls, emails, invoices, spreadsheets, etc. As management expert Steven Covey said, “Be effective with people and efficient with things.” Effectiveness is measured in time invested – give people ample time. Efficiency is measured in time saved and relates to the completion of things or tasks.

Here’s a challenge for you: Choose a day and see how little you can accomplish. Sit back and enjoy the people you work with. Laugh. Take a walk. Stroll the halls with coffee in hand like Bill Lumbergh (only don’t ask people for their TPS Reports). You will end up accomplishing a whole lot more than you may realize.

Years ago, the head of a senior living company I worked for came to town for a visit. One of the first things he said was, “Keep me away from the residents.” But you? Take plenty of time to connect with, listen to, and enjoy the residents who live in your community. They are our raison d’etre.

Our focus on residents and staff will become more natural, involuntary, just like watching my daughter breathe.