Here's how to re-gain 20 hours for free
5 strategies to free-up time and achieve more.
I recently read an online article about poor time management. It led me to reflect that my secret has been looking for ways to claw-back lots of 5 and 10 minute time-robbers. Then, I use that time to work less hard to produce better results.
If I can find a way to eliminate a time-robber that steals 5 minutes of my time every day, and do that every day: 5 minutes every day of the week for the next 12 months, I will regain at least 20 hours per year! (* Assuming a 48 week working year.)
And if we can do that across the team, imagine how much we will regain, and what we can achieve!
Monumental changes are difficult to sustain.
Incremental changes are much more achievable,
and may not require funding-approval!
I can change small things within my routine. Our team can change small things about the way we operate. Many of these may not even require higher-level permission or funding-approval.
The 5 Strategies
Before trialling any of these strategies, check whether they fit within your business rules - just in case!
1. Stop rewarding poor behaviour
The meeting or event that is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. needs to start at 9 a.m.
Not 9:05 or 9:10.
I will not wait for the straggler: Nor will I punish those who got there on time. I will start on-time and finish early!
Starting 10 minutes late, keeping four other people 'on-hold' while I wait for the late-comer, will cost the organisation 50 minutes. That is wasteful. There are heaps of other important things that we could have been working on. But we made a point of getting here on-time. Reward good behaviour.
The real cost of waiting may be much greater, as those who are put 'on-hold' start to question my loyalty to them. After all, if they were there on time, why are they punished while the person who came in late gets rewarded? That can begin to wear thin!
Poor behaviour is incredibly common in organisations. We rationalise it, or excuse it, and even encourage and enable it.
Do you have a team member or colleague who:
- Rambles off-topic in meetings?
- Does not follow-through on what they have committed?
- Looks busy but doesn't produce much?
- Keeps coming back to ask the same question over and over (because that is easier than thinking about it on their own)?
On their own, these appear minor. However they have a cumulative impact on the team, their fellow team members, on our clients and/or the organisation. Ultimately, they cost us time, energy, motivation and results!
After checking the business rules,
I need to find ways to stop rewarding
and encouraging poor behaviour!
2. Challenge my assumptions and defaults
Instead of automatically sending three staff to that meeting on Monday morning, I could ask:
“What if we didn’t?”
First, I must check the current business rules.
If I find that three of us do need to be there, and that there will be consequences if we don’t all attend: we will be there.
However, if I find that I only need to send two staff to the meeting, or even one, I should think about whether freeing-up some time may help us to produce even greater results overall.
Two staff freed-up to work on something else for 1 hour per week: Even if they still need to spend 20 minutes briefing and de-briefing each other, we have still regained 40 minutes per worker x 48 weeks (32 hours per year each).
I ask "What if we didn't?" many times every day. It challenges my default ways of operating.
If my defaults are correct: no problem. I have at least validated them.
If my defaults aren’t correct, or the team's defaults aren't ideal: I can explore the possibility of changing them!
3. Switch-off ‘flash’ messages
How many times a day do we get distracted by e-mail (or other) flash messages on our computer screens or phones?
Do you ever get tempted to stop working on your current task, open a new e-mail or phone alert that flashed, only to find that it wasn't important, then decide to go back to the original task?
How quickly can you get back to peak performance? How many times a day does this happen to you?
Check the business rules:
Are we allowed to turn the messages off?
If I am not allowed to turn them off, I have to be creative about how to manage them.
I don’t mean don’t check e-mails or respond. Just find ways to manage them by being less distracted for short (or longer) periods of time.
What would happen if I was freed-up to work on my most important priority task, uninterrupted, for twenty or more minutes so that I can produce high quality results, then reward myself with an e-mail fix or a status update check-in?
Being busy is not my aim. Anybody can be busy.
I am paid to produce the best results that I can, over time.
So, I need to free myself up to be at my best and not necessarily at everybody’s beck and call 24/7! What about you?
4. Go home on time
I will admit it. I cannot do everything. No matter how much work I do, or how much time I put into my work there will probably be more work to do tomorrow.
Parkinson's Law of time suggests that our work will expand to the fit the amount of time that we have available.
Setting my going home time (which I do at the start of each day) is clarifying how much time I have available for the day. Then, I can prioritise my work and budget my time to fit in the most important things. Some things will have to roll-over. Other things probably won't get done.
(I might occasionally exceed the allocated time. Crises do occur. Other things emerge during the day. However as a trade-off, I will negotiate a later start or an earlier finish on another day.)
By the way, how effective am I likely to be if I am still working away 12 hours into an 8 hour shift?
Instead, why not ask: "What if I didn't?"
Challenge my default assumptions and my default actions!
5. Host a Time & Results Management Workshop for your team
From time to time, as a team, revisit the principles of effective time and results management: Less 'busy' but better results!
Then, follow it up with a team problem-solving activity.
Brainstorm, then plan, how to resolve some common team time-wasters, or things that cause frustrations or stress, or the things that are holding them back from achieving great results.
We can’t fix everything!
Despite what some 'Gurus' say,
not everything is possible!
My team may not be able to resolve that I.T. glitch that plagues the whole company, or change the personality or default behaviours of our troublesome customers.
However, we may be able to develop some process improvements, some refinements, or even some minor in-house tweaks that can each regain 5-minutes per person per day or more (while we wait for those other things to be resolved) or improve the quality of our results.
So, even if you aren’t allowed to trial all of these 5 strategies in your role: Is there one that may help to free up 5 minutes or 20 hours?
Feel free to like or share this article with others.
Contact us to discuss how a Maximum Impact Time & Results Management Workshop can help to build-on your team’s successes, by reflecting on what you are doing, then exploring and planning how to produce even better results for themselves, each other and the organisation (without having to work harder).