How To Do Less Of The Work You Don’t Like Doing

While there are many resources that focus on efficiency and productivity (how to do the same work but faster), this video teaches you the valuable but less common techniques that focus on decreasing the amount of work that you need to do in the first place.

My Favorite Negotiation Books

I started studying negotiation tactics about five years ago and I have absolutely no doubt that that research has been the most valuable (in terms of money) investment that I have ever made. Like I mentioned in the video, effective negotiations can make you more money in 20 seconds than you would be able to make through bonuses throughout an entire year. The following two books are what I consider to be the most “bang for your buck” resources on negotiation tactics:

  1. Getting To Yes (Paperback)Kindle Version – In my opinion, this is the single best resource on the topic.
  2. Difficult Conversations – An alternative if you want a differing perspective.
Regardless of whether you choose to read these books through the affiliate links above, I highly recommend you invest your time in reading them. As far as finances are concerned, these have been my best investments.

Video Notes:

One Step Blocker

This is my favorite of the three methods. When someone asks you to do something that you think is unnecessary, simply add a one step blocker and chances are they won’t have the follow through to waste your time.

Difficult but Important

Find the tasks that difficult and important but no one else wants to do them. This way, instead of competing with everyone else over the popular tasks, you can do less work with no competition while providing a huge amount of value. See this post by Cal Newport on how to take this to the next step.

Brutal Negotiations

Get over being a jerk. Effective negotiations are the single most powerful tool you have for increasing pay while decreasing work.

You are not done yet! Now you need to put these tactics into action!

Now is the time to turn your thoughts into action! Go to you e-mail inbox now and use the One Step Blocker technique to combat at least one request you receive via e-mail. Remember, a lighter workload starts with a small first step.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • oneStep

    Can you give a few concrete examples of what a one step blocker is?

    • Sure!

      The general idea is that by adding one step to people who are assigning tasks to you, you can eliminate a substantial amount of waste.

      Concrete examples:

      1. Someone asks you to review their web/work/hobby project and you tell them that you will be happy to review it after they send you a outline of their goals for the project and the examples of the type of feedback they are requesting. This is a win-win because it solidifies in their head what their intentions are and enables you to give better feedback. If they aren’t willing to send you the additional notes, then it shows it wasn’t worth your time to begin with.

      2. Someone asks you to promote their product/brand/friend and you agree on the condition that they send over a portfolio and/or list of references. This is a win-win because it gives you better context to do promote them (which leads to more effective promotions) and it forces them to have the supporting material that they should have anyway. If they don’t provide the supporting materials to support you then you shouldn’t be expected to support them.

      Do those examples make more sense than the examples in the video?

  • Craig

    Nine mate. Specifically like the meeting request idea.

    • Good :-) Hope it helps clear your schedule of low value meetings!

      Cheers Craig!

  • Wow, great stuff here! My brain is twisted now. The one-step blocker is brilliant. I have waisted so many emails going back-n-forth on something that never materializes.

    It’s funny, I also sold shoes and there were times I just wanted to escape the floor and I would volunteer to put shoes away. It really did buy me points with everyone.

    I love these concepts. Thanks for including the book referrals. Negotiations is something I’ve wanted to learn about, especially being a woman. In doing an infographic on Equal pay the number one thing that came up was, that in general, woman don’t negotiate and it costs them so much, not just money but vacation, conferences, signing bonuses, even a comfortable chair. I would love to hear more about how you negotiate.

    • Hey Dawn!

      Always great to hear from you! :-)

      > I have waisted so many emails going back-n-forth on something that never materializes.

      Me too! That is one of the most frustrating parts of being a consultant.

      >It’s funny, I also sold shoes and there were times I just wanted to escape the floor and I would volunteer to put shoes away. It really did buy me points with everyone.

      I had no idea you are in the shoes sales person club :-) It is a small but elite team of people who know far too much about feet.

      >I would love to hear more about how you negotiate.

      I am looking forward to seeing the Infographic. I think that could do a lot of good. Good suggestion on a future topic (negotiation). I just added that to my posts list! :-)

  • Hey Danny,

    We had spoke a while back on twitter about me trying to use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for a daily to-do. As you can imagine not much came of it because it was overly complicated.

    However, I recently starting using a very simplistic system I call The Big 4. I identify the four most important things I feel I need to do in a day. The idea behind this is not only do we have a finite amount of time in the day, but a limited amount of motivation.

    In my experience, there are alot of tasks I can simply not do and the outcome will be neutral. I would often spend hours in a day on tasks I make up on the fly just to stay busy.

    So I decided to take 10 minutes at the beginning of my day and determine what four actions are going to make me feel the most fulfilled at the end of the day. Right now a workout, working on a proposal for a new client, and planing a move to Denver will leave a smile on my face at the end of the day.

    By keeping life simple, I’ve cut down on alot of unnecessary worrying, and that helpless feeling you get when you think you have a million things to do and try to do them all at once.

    Hope this is the type of feedback/personal account you were looking for.


    • Hey Ben! Of course I remember you! I have appreciated your support for a long time now!

      > I recently starting using a very simplistic system I call The Big 4…

      Wow, what a really clever idea. This is exactly the type of suggestions I was looking for! I really like the idea of starting off each day with a clear objective. Smart.

      Do you still keep a list of the other tasks (the ones that don’t make the big 4)? Do you just let them go?

      • |— Do you still keep a list of the other tasks (the ones that don’t make the big 4)? Do you just let them go? —|

        TL;DR. Actionables like meetings, calls, and emails (which are vetted) I will keep track of. Otherwise – doesn’t fit the vision/project – toss it.

        I start off with a new Post It note every day to write the big 4.

        If it’s a complex task, I take the time to lay the framework out like a speech on another sheet of paper. I have main key points I want to hit (main tasks), and quotes (comprehensive details) throughout to add emphasis, and then I cut it for time – simplify and remove as much as possible that isn’t necessary.

        If, after all of that planning and simplifying it doesn’t fit into the project or overall vision , it gets let go. Even if it’s a fantastic idea by itself.

        This is an aged concept. A good modern example is provided in the book Rework; how the guys at 37 Signals still keep Basecamp simple and easy to use, despite all of the money they have been offered to add more features.

        By having a clear idea of what I want, I don’t waste time contemplating all of those “fantastic ideas”.

        I know that personally I run on two modes, love and fear. I either run towards something I’m passionate about, or I avoid what I’m afraid of doing.

        This system makes everything important in my life BOLD. Four simple things. I may be afraid to do a million and one things. But I know I can conquer four, everyday.

        • Wow, what a simple, effective and well thought out system. Prioritization is an extremely hard problem and your system is one of the best solutions I have ever heard on the topic. Thank you (I really mean that) for sharing.

          Of particular importance was this line from you:

          “By having a clear idea of what I want, I don’t waste time contemplating all of those “fantastic ideas”.”

          That is a trap that is difficult but well worth avoiding.

          Thanks Ben.

          (Also, hat tip for making me chuckle by including a TLDR :-p)

          • Of course :) Glad I could contribute to an awesome topic!

  • Dan Riley

    Nice post Danny. You taught me something completely new and the video looked good too.

    • Thanks! :-) That means a lot coming from you! :-)

  • Your next book should be called: The One Step Blocker.

    It’s absolutely brilliant. I actually had the exact same thing happen to me when I asked my boss to write me a recommendation letter. Instead of walking away and never doing it; I actually wrote the most ridiculously positive recommendation letter in the world.

    I essentially took credit for every aspect of the departments success and sure enough he signed off on it. I never used it to get another job because I went into consulting. But I do have the signed letter in a folder and I take it out every once in awhile when I want to laugh.

    The meeting blocker is brilliant. So I’ve recently been offering my time on Google Helpouts with mixed results. But the best way I’ve found of eliminating time wasters is to request they email me the URL of the website they want to discuss. Most of the time when someone doesn’t send me a response they cancel before the event – saving me time.

    Brutal Negotiations is also brilliant. My boss (not the one with the letter of recommendation) a mentor to me even today once gave me the best bit of advice I’ve ever gotten. Well the second best bit of advice; the first being: It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Anyway, his advice to me was: The person who can walk away from the table will always win the negotiation – and make sure you’re that guy.

    Keep doing what you’re doing my friend. These videos are awesome. I hope they lead to a big next thing in your life.


    • Hey Jonathan!

      I always appreciate it when you share your thoughts :-)

      Knowing you, I bet you earned more of the success in that recommendation letter than you care to admit.

      Good note on negotiation. As you implied most of the negotiation itself takes place before the discussion. It is all about leverage and having the upper hand and ability to leave. Smart addition.

      P.S. Smart idea on making that idea a book. I might take you up on that.

  • John Cole

    The “One Step Blocker” really has some great applications, like cutting down on meeting invites. Love it! I’m also a fan of the “One Minute Manager” books which layout powerful ways to encourage people to do their own work instead of you doing it for them.

    p.s. I enjoyed the real-life examples. Good work Danny.

    • Checking out that books series now. Thanks John!

  • Hector Santiesteban

    Hey Danny, I think that it’s important to do an 80-20 analysis of what needs to be done. Sometimes we can use Tim’s 4 hour approach to also eliminate entirely the things we don’t like to do.


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