marketing portfolio management

People who stand out in their field do less (but with an important twist)

You may have heard multitasking is out. Tackling too much can reduce productivity by up to 40% according to some studies.

So less is, again, more? According to performance researcher Morten T. Hansen, the answer is yes, doing less is key but that’s only step one. Step two is the clincher.

Hansen and his team studied 5,000 people deemed outstanding in various fields according to their managers and peers.

In his book, “Great at Work: How top performers do less, work better and achieve more,” he explains that highly successful people not only take on fewer tasks, they obsess over every detail of the projects they do tackle.

While refusing to multi-task will indeed boost your performance, to really hit it out of the park you can’t stop there. You also need to really hone your own skills and guard the overall quality of each project like a hawk.

The study also debunked a couple myths about stellar workers.


If I manage as many projects as possible, I’ll look like a go-getter and make myself super valuable.

Or not. In fact, most likely not. You could end up falling for what Hansen calls the “Complexity Trap.” We’ll cover that in more detail in our next article. The idea is that trying to switch between different priorities, takes mental energy.

Similarly, breaking a project into a million parts (so you can track milestones, check metrics, refine your policy . . . meet again to review those milestones, etc.) will stall your progress.

Look instead for how you can set a single, simple goal and go for it.


If I just try to make every customer happy, I’ll rock this.

Negative on that, captain. According to the research, this approach will fail if it means working with too many customers at once, especially if they require different skill sets.

If you’re saying yes to everything, you could fall for the “Spread Too Thin Trap.”

You’ll lose time on low value projects at which you may not even excel. It’s better to pick a focus area, master your skill, become known for it and attempt to land the best customers—or take on the best projects—within that area of expertise.

So in a nutshell, if you want to be a rock star at work—or anything really:

  • Don’t get pulled in a million directions
  • Know your strengths
  • Hone a specific skillset like crazy
  • Give all your energy to a few high value projects and hit those out of the park

If you’re a recovering multitasker like us, it may take practice. We’re working on it too!

What do you think of this research? Drop us a line or leave a comment to let us know.


Your friends at CloudBase Services

P.S. Stay tuned for more from us as our “Work smarter” series continues.

Author: CloudBase Services