We have infinite wants, but finite resources. This is especially true regarding how many hours in a day we have to complete tasks. Each second expended is one which can never be used on something else; something more productive. Now, that statement is a pretty stark and depressing way of foreshortening the future: A way of making us antsy and chomping at the bit to get to work, but the main premise is an inconvenient truth, time wont wait for us, we need to make the most of it. However, we can look at this problem with a different perspective. Instead of seeing the future as something where we need to perform at our best constantly to realize our full potential – which is pretty demanding, if not damaging – we should ask of ourselves, one short burst of unparalleled energy and productivity each day to push us forwards to the next level.
We should free ourselves from our baseline. We should have no complaints and no delays. We should define the task and complete it. This type of work could also be known as a “Micro-performance”.
Many of these points were inspired by “Perform Under Pressure by Dr Ceri Evans” so make sure to check out the full version of that book. I’ve wrote a pretty snappy “Perform Under Pressure: Summary” if you want to get a quick overview of it!
What is a micro-performance?
When we don’t have constraints, it can become increasingly easy to coast along. We can spend months or even years doing the same things, before looking back and wondering where the time went and whether what we have to show for it was really worth it. But, it’s not always the case that we didn’t work enough hours; if you went into work every day and mindlessly worked an additional 20% more hours you would probably resent work and be at a higher risk of burning out in the future. But, that doesn’t mean you should be averse to working hard, we need to work HARD and put the effort in, but most importantly, we need to work HARD when it’s needed and when those efforts will really separate us from the rest.
We can achieve this through Micro-Performances: Short efforts designed to let us perform at our best when we really need to. These performances aim to break down big tasks into smaller, less formidable chunks whereby we can exert an all out effort in a bid to complete them successfully.
Think of your to-do list, what are the tasks you’ve been putting off? What are the tasks that will really get your projects moving forwards; maybe that unpleasant phone call which needs to be made; or that piece of work which must be done but isn’t very interesting. Micro-performances are the time to step-up and face these tasks, they’re the opportunity to get things moving forwards.
You should aim to perform outside your comfort zone once a day. Before 12 Noon, identify something important on your to-do list which needs to be completed and then give yourself 5 or 10 minutes to complete it – or at least break decent ground on it. Once you start, imagine someone next to you have just started a stop-watch. Your 10 minute window has opened. You can start your task by complaining, worrying or procrastinating but that doesn’t change anything; the only difference is that there is now less time on the stop-watch.
At the end of the short time-window your success will be defined as whether the task is in a different state to that at the start (hopefully in a better position!).
Why you should be using them
It seems like a pretty obvious concept, but it is something we all need to do more of if we want to reach that next level of performance. When faced with completing a difficult task it can be so easy to procrastinate and put it off; We tell ourselves “I’ll just check my emails instead or I’ll do it later”, but although that may feel good in the moment: it’s not helping us grow.
By completing one or two uncomfortable tasks before lunch-time we can transform our personal performance. It’s the hardest things on our to-do lists which move us forwards the most. We will achieve what we want faster and we can realize our full potential.
So, at the start of each day: Identify that one uncomfortable item that needs to be done and step-up for a short period of time performing to your absolute limit to complete that task before midday. The results in the long-term won’t only be worth it, they could be spectacular.
I hope these points were interesting, make sure to check out my “Perform Under Pressure: Summary” and also the full book too! Hopefully this simple trick could be the start of something new!