Leadership expert Michael Hyatt tells you how not to do more, but to mindfully do less.
Overflowing in-trays, ever-increasing task lists and not enough hours in the day – most leaders know this scenario all too well. Leadership expert Michael Hyatt contends the solution is not to do more, but to mindfully do less. Relying on extensive experience and in-depth research, Hyatt introduces a counterintuitive framework for restoring work-life balance and offers tools to boost your productivity by increasing your focus on what matters most.
True productivity starts with being clear on what we truly want. Michael Hyatt
Tony Robbins, author of, among other books, Unshakeable, said, “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. No one understands this better than Michael Hyatt.” New York Times best-selling author Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand, wrote, “Mike gives us a framework to plan our lives…[so] we won’t have to experience regret. This is a great book.” Cal Newport, best-selling author of Deep Work, said, “Busyness is meaningless. What matters is consistently executing the work that actually matters. This book shows you how.”
Hyatt’s thematic contention is that today’s always-on, always-available work culture causes distraction.
Focusing on everything means focusing on nothing.Michael Hyatt
Hyatt understands you want to get through your workload more quickly, so you can catch up on all your tasks. But, he asserts, this won’t help you with knowledge work, which deals with ever-changing challenges and problems. Hyatt argues that greater productivity should bring you the freedom to focus on the task at hand without distractions, to leave work behind, to change your plans spontaneously and to help your brain recharge. He urges you to consider your priorities, what you would like to achieve in life and on the job, and how many hours you’d prefer to work.
Proficiency and Passion
Hyatt separates tasks into productivity zones: “Drudgery,” “Disinterest,” “Distraction” or “Desire.” He clarifies that Drudgery Zone tasks are those for which you have neither passion nor great ability. The Disinterest Zone is for tasks you do well but don’t enjoy. In the Distraction Zone, you do tasks you like, but lack proficiency in. Distraction Zone tasks, Hyatt notes, simply waste your time.
It’s not enough to be either passionate or proficient at a task…You need to be both or your energy and performance will suffer.Michael Hyatt
He recommends focusing your time on Desire Zone tasks, where you have both motivation and skill. He teaches that this system will help you create your “Freedom Compass,” which indicates the direction in which you should move, that is, toward increasing time in the Desire Zone and eliminating, delegating and automating tasks in other zones.
Because diet and exercise affect your body and brain, the author advocates natural foods, hydrating often, and regular workouts. Take time to reflect, Hyatt insists, and unplug from work to maintain your focus. As he reminds you, “personal energy is a renewable resource,” but you have to renew it.
Hyatt stresses that you must realize your time is finite and fixed. Be clear on your priorities – tasks in your Desire Zone – and, Hyatt cautions, develop a strategy for saying no.
Automation means solving a problem once, then putting the solution on autopilot.Michael Hyatt
Hyatt specifies that you should automate tasks in your Disinterest or Drudgery Zones because automation enables you to do routine jobs with minimal brainpower and time investment.
Hyatt breaks down delegation as handing tasks to someone who had more passion and skill than you.
If you insist on doing jobs for which you lack passion and proficiency, congratulations: You win the trophy for worst hiring manager ever.Michael Hyatt
Hyatt orders the process as: Identify what to delegate, find the best person, talk them through the workflow, get them the tools and access required, be clear about how much responsibility you are granting, get out of the way, check progress and give feedback.
To plan your week, Hyatt details, prioritize your tasks and decide which ones you want to handle or must handle yourself. About 20% of input, he maintains, generally leads to around 80% of output.
Be careful not to confuse urgency with importance.Michael Hyatt
Focus on finishing the small number of tasks – the 20% – that advance your business, instead of working through a long to-do list with minimal impact on your bottom line.
As many authors have said, Hyatt reminds you that switching focus to multitask reduces your productivity. Limit interruptions, he recommends, by switching off notifications on messages, emails and phone calls.
When we divert our attention to incoming calls and messages, it dings our IQ by 10%; that’s twice the effect of smoking marijuana.Michael Hyatt
Hyatt believes in an uncluttered workspace and in teaching yourself to stick to complex tasks.
A Workable System
Much of Hyatt’s advice is neither unique nor groundbreaking. Many authors have covered his arenas of focus, distraction and automation. But Hyatt offers a singular system designed to increase the efficiency with which you conceptualize your days and your necessary work. His Zone idea provides a new, memorable way to categorize your jobs and to gain self-insight by doing so.
The truth is, even if we hate saying no, we’re unknowingly saying no all the time – every time we say yes.Michael Hyatt
As per Hyatt’s promise, that does provide a direct avenue to less onerous work, greater personal freedom and a deeper understanding of what satisfies and what frustrates you. Hyatt, as you would expect from an author with his multitude of titles, writes in a breezy, easy yet still commanding style. He is accustomed to giving advice and gives it well.
Michael Hyatt’s other books include Platform, The Vision Driven Leader, Full Focus Planner and Your Best Year Ever. He co-authored Living Forward with Daniel Harkavy and Win at Work and Succeed at Life with Megan Hyatt Miller.