Review: 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More

I think I’m an organized person. I’ve even been told that by my friends. And I am, compared to some, but not so much compared to others. I’m also, some would say, strongly independent. I’m not a fan of books by authors who are telling me what I should do because most of the ones I’ve browsed (and there have been many) are more about the author and how great they are than about any practical or useful solutions, programs, or processes I can use (or understand) in my own life or business. But, please read on.

When I was asked to review Stever Robbins’ new book 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More, I was initially reluctant, since I think I’m biased against “self-help” type books. I had never heard of Stever Robbins (the Get-It-Done-Guy) but, luckily, I was given a preview site for the book (www.getitdoneguynews.com). After reading a sample chapter, viewing a couple videos, and listening to a podcast, I agreed. I liked his style and thought he was worth a closer look, especially from the point of view of a freelance photographer. Maybe this guy did have something useful to offer.

In my experience (personal and otherwise), creative people would rather be creative than be organized. The business aspect of being in business is boring and takes away from our ability to create by distracting us with minute details, rules, paperwork, marketing, networking, managing our time, and other activities not related to the actual creation of the work we do. But, unfortunately, if you’re in business these are the things you must take care of or you won’t be in business very long and you won’t be living a happy, successful, creative, life. Freelance photographers (even staff photographers) are already struggling with organizing, tracking, and archiving our digital files. How much time does that take away from actually photographing? We need to be organized and lead a somewhat structured life to maximize the time we have available to photograph and just enjoy ourselves; even if that structure is fairly simple.

Stever Robbins has written a book photographers can use.

9 Steps to Work Less and Do More is just over 200 pages in, coincidentally enough, 9 chapters, each covering one of the 9 steps. This book is a guide to help you figure out what works for you, not someone you don’t know telling you how to fit your life into their “formula for success”. Ultimately, you are the only one who can make the decisions about what works for you and what doesn’t. Stever Robbins breaks down this process into easy to understand and very doable processes you can integrate into your daily routine. His writing style is conversational and reads like a transcript to one of his videos or podcasts. Stever is an entrepreneur, author, professional speaker, business coach, involved in some major business start-ups, and dabbles in stand-up comedy. It’s easy to imagine this book as a personal lecture from Stever.

The chapters (steps) go like this:

Step 1: Live on Purpose. This isn’t an exercise to “discover or craft your life mission” but to identify the goals that mean something to you and your life, then doing that stuff and not the stuff that isn’t helping you reach those goals.

Step 2: Stop Procrastinating. We all want to find ways to avoid procrastinating (can you actually do that?). Stever suggests several easy approaches to altering our behavior and staying on track.

Step 3: Conquer Technology. Technology can be a real time sink. In this chapter, you’ll learn some simple things to reduce the time spent messing around with it.

Step 4: Beat Distractions to Cultivate Focus. How to manage interruptions, set boundaries, saying no, organizing your work week.

Step 5: Stay Organized. File organization, tossing clutter, organizing your stuff, and tracking projects.

Step 6: Stop Wasting Time. Doing work that matters, the 80/20 rule, overcoming perfectionism.

Step 7: Optimize. Dumping useless productivity systems, using feedback, getting help, listening to yourself.

Step 8: Build Stronger Relationships. Don’t be happy with a mediocre life. Building close relationships, cutting the small talk, preventing conflicts and ending them quickly, taking responsibility.

Step 9: Leverage. “Getting outsized results without having to put in more resources or work”. Using your strengths and skills that come naturally to your advantage.

This book is an easy read with useful, simple, practical and common-sense suggestions to getting your life more organized so you can “work less” (spend your time more productively) and, thus, “do more”. If you need a friendly kick in the pants, you should check this one out.

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