My former colleague, Morten Hansen, has written a terrific new book titled, “Great at Work: How top Performers Work Less and Achieve More.” Hansen built a dataset of roughly 5,000 individuals from all levels of organizations, from the C-suite to the factory floor. He examined their performance, as well as their habits, routines, and work practices. In the book, Hansen describes seven principles that characterize the approach of top performers.
His first principle, and perhaps most interesting one, is “doing less, then obsessing.” Hansen published an essay in the Wall Street Journal recently, in which he describes this principle. He writes,
The common practice we found among the highest-ranked performers in our study wasn’t at all what we expected. It wasn’t a better ability to organize or delegate. Instead, top performers mastered selectivity. Whenever they could, they carefully selected which priorities, tasks, meetings, customers, ideas or steps to undertake and which to let go. They then applied intense, targeted effort on those few priorities in order to excel.