Recently I was talking to a company who in the current economic climate have a cost down profit up initiative underway. For them the road ahead is somewhat unclear with reducing costs ranging from helping staff to be more effective through to reducing headcount. While profit up could be just increased margin from the reduced costs or selling more.
In a way this is not dissimilar to a lot of people I talk to where staff are very busy with what seemingly is more work to do than the time available. Yet for some getting more work done doesn't really help with being more effective or increasing margin. Instead better outcomes from less effort can make a bigger impact on outcomes and results.
I say this because 1 of the biggest consequences is greater clarity. Because when we’re clear on where we are, where we need to get to and how to get there then the likelihood of reaching the destination increases. When we’re able to do this with less overwhelm then our chances significantly higher. Alternatively, when we’re unclear or uncertain we can become stagnant, not make progress or even regress.
It’s a bit like a 100 metre sprinter preparing for the biggest race of their life by doing distance training for a marathon instead of specific training targeted to make them run faster as the greater volume of distance running is great for their fitness but counterproductive to running faster.
During my working career I’ve seen and tried many strategies to perform the roles I’ve had to the best of my ability. Not every approach I’ve tried has been either successful or sustainable over the longer term. I can say though that 1 of the biggest changes I made was going from trying to do everything to identifying and actioning the things that make the greatest impact. This shift has led to better results in less time, improved balance between work and family, health and the opportunity to support my children in their sporting pursuits.
However, this is not about just reducing hours of work as it’s more so about getting the balance right and being more effective (I’ve even seen situations where some people should be working the same or even possibly longer hours to perform their job to the expected level of performance).
If you want to work less then the question is how can you be more effective?
4 suggestions to consider are:
- Understand what’s important with your role – What are the must do’s, nice to have and waste of time (in other words what do you need to do more of or less of). What does success look like, how would a perfect work day, week or month be different from any other day, week or month. You need to be great at setting priorities.
- Become really efficient – Like a well-oiled machine you need to operate at a maximum level of efficiency. Ultimately this underpins how we work (Working Rhythm) plus the volume and quality of work we produce so it will have to be well defined, robust and scalable.
- Learn to say no, not now – Too often we perform tasks that either don’t add value to our bigger picture goals / measures or we are too busy to take on. Understanding our current workload, what’s important and how to manage expectations are fundamental skills to sustained success.
- Leverage technology – All technology cannot be treated equally as some of it is critical to our jobs or can really aid our productivity, or alternatively some of it can really negate it. Part of the problem is technology is so rich in functionality we either don’t have the need for all this capability, are confused by it or never taught how to use it. Become clear on what’s essential to master for your role or can help you become more productive. A simple example is to consider your email system, does it help or hinder you?
You might be surprised from the positive impact of getting better done or how it can even help you get more done in less time. What action will you take to make it happen?