How can I do more with less?
Archimedes once said, that given a place to stand, a fulcrum and a lever, he could move the world. Even though that was thousands of years ago, leverage still remains an important principle – especially when it comes to doing more with less. If you’re looking to take full advantage of what’s already around you and make the most of even just a few resources, understanding leverage will give you a real edge.
Here we’ll look at what leverage does and some ways you can use it in your daily life, whether for work, relationships or finances. Instead of needing more and having that be your excuse for not achieving your goals, you’ll be able to do more with what you already have and make lasting change in the process.
Leverage often comes up when talking about investment and debt. Usually it refers to taking what you have and then adding more from elsewhere (like taking out a bank loan) to get the investment you want. That could be a house, a car, a business or even an education. People using leverage get far more for the share they put in.
Take buying a house. If you only could use your cash in hand, what could you afford? Likely something along the lines of a camper or mobile home. So how could you get into a three-bedroom home or high-rise condo? By getting a mortgage from the bank. The seller gets the money and you pay the bank back for the loan over a set period of time.
Leverage, of course, is a concept that expands way beyond financial contexts. You can leverage past experience to get your dream job, your friend circle to expand your mind, even your time to get more done. Chances are that self-made, scrappy entrepreneur you admire has tapped into the power leverage to get where they are today. Same goes for an incredible actor or prolific scientist making discoveries that will change our lives. They all understand how to do more with less.
Do more with less: Leverage time
Perhaps the biggest change you can make in your life is how you leverage time. With all those guides and methods to getting more done in less time, chances are you’ve tried a technique or two, only to go back to feeling like you have a million things to do and not enough hours in the day.
However, cognitive science and time management experts all agree on one game-changing technique: chunking. When you put like tasks together, you don’t need to switch gears as often – which is often what eats up time – thus getting more accomplished. To do more with less, it’s time to destroy the myth of multitasking; trying to multiple things at once often means you do none of them well.
Let’s look at some examples to see the power of chunking in action.
- At work: You probably know someone who’s always overwhelmed at work and never has time to work on their large projects. There’s always an email coming in to immediately answer, a meeting to attend or a report that needs written (even though no one will likely read it). Instead of reacting to every task as it appears, block out times dedicated to specific tasks grouped together. So answer emails for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon – but not at other times during the day. Schedule meetings back-to-back whenever possible, even only on certain days of the week. Putting these like tasks together maximizes productivity and makes it possible to then create time for the big projects that will ultimately create change.
- Cooking: Instead of pulling out the knife and cutting board every night to start preparing dinner, try and make like professional chefs and chop up what you need for multiple meals. Or while you’re making dinner, prepare the next day’s lunch at the same time. Ready to be really advanced? Prepare lunch for the week on Sunday evenings, making it easy to grab and go in the mornings.
- Travel planning: Got a vacation coming up and know where you want to go? Is your current strategy to a few minutes a day to look at flights, compare hotels or decide on activities, then get so overwhelmed with choices that you put off making decisions until tomorrow? Even here chunking can save you. Block off time to make your travel arrangements all at the same time – do this early enough and you’ll likely save some money too, not just time. With logistics handled vacation becomes a pleasure, not a stressor.
Chunking is the basis for the Rapid Planning Method, which lets you leverage time across your entire life. How does getting done what’s vital to you in less time than it currently takes sound?
Do more with less:
Leverage experience and achievements
Frequently we think that achievements should simply speak for themselves and that, somehow, someway, we’ll reap even more rewards from them. Instead, think about athletes who leverage their successes – gold metals or championship titles – into endorsement deals. They’re practicing diversification, a smart investment strategy that will see them secure long after they retire from their sport.
Not an athletic champion? Maybe you’ve achieved record sales or have proven track record at work. Leverage these achievements into a raise, maybe even before your annual review. Often talking with a trusted colleague or friend can be a good way to get perspective on your achievements; they can also help you think of how to leverage them effectively.
Experience is also an incredible leverage tool. Build on the skills you already have to increase their leverage possibilities. Continued learning and training, even if you’re done with formal education, shows initiative and a willingness to grow. Many of us have leveraged experience in one area to get a new job in a different field by focusing on transferable skills.
Do more with less: Leverage personal connections
This area of leverage probably has the worst reputation, reminding people of backroom deals and other potentially unethical practices. But think of it this way: your friends, peers, colleagues and even family can all help you expand your knowledge about everything from work to romance.
Chances are that people you know are interested in different topics than you. They can give you the inside scoop on trends, debates, books and events. Think of them as scouts, going out and only bringing back the best information. And everyone likes feeling like what they have to share is interesting to others. You probably do the same for them. You can also leverage other people into suggesting and vetting potential romantic partners, travel destinations, or even just what book to read next.
Of course, personal connections can be a great way to find a new job or recruit someone for your company. You’ll likely hear about opportunities before others do or maybe get a recommendation that sends your application to the top of the pile. Use this leverage to then show why you are the best fit; it’s not enough to get there, you have to finish the journey.
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