Are you frustrated by inefficiencies that waste time? With everyone wanting to achieve more as quickly as possible, time has become a precious commodity that needs to be used with great care, and protected fiercely. A lot of workplace pressure and 'stress talk' may have their origins in overload of work schedule, but are manifested through inefficiency of time use.
Whilst there are some inefficiencies that come from poor planning or over ambitious scheduling, the true villain of efficiency comes from the habitual steps, cumbersome procedures and out-dated processes.
Organisations are leaking time through inefficient systems
I was in a bank and noticed a queue of 5 people, all of whom were losing time to fulfil transactions that probably could be done through other means (online, phone, etc.). The bank are paying staff, who are clearly not trying to get through an hourly quota of customers, to do tasks that computers can do. What a colossal waste of time and resources! In times when we can Paypass, electronically transfer, and verify our identity online through voice recognition software, it is illogical that we are still stuck using systems, created in the dark ages, that bleed so much precious time.
In the same bank, that has state of the art online security, they required that I fill in a written form that gets faxed to head office, and will need someone to physically collect it and place it on a pile on a desk for someone else to process in the next 3-5 business days. I thought they were joking! But this is how identification validation was processed.
Look at how you are operating. Do you use procedures that are cumbersome, out-dated and ineffective? Are you touching too many bits of paper, too many emails, or getting involved in too many activities? We should value time the same way that a drowning person would value oxygen.
Leaders can leak time through habits of thinking
An important skill for many new and emerging leaders is reclaiming their time and focusing on the high dollar productive activities. Too often, new leaders prioritise perfectionism (the need to do a job right) over implementation (the need to get the job done) that can slow down productivity and impair their ability to achieve their strategic objectives. They also wrestle with the battle between personalisation (doing the job themselves) and delegation (letting go of control and handing it over to someone else to do). Select how you allocate your time with the precision that a coach would select their team to play in a grand final.
It’s wonderful to make plans, set goals, create systems, and to lead with high standards of excellence, want continual improvement, and expect nothing but the best. To achieve those outcomes and meet high expectations, however, requires a deep resource of energy.
The modern day approach of getting loaded up on enough caffeine and energy drinks to keep a small country awake for 4 days, and then surrounding yourself with positive self-talk and motivational slogans of ‘dream it, believe it, achieve it’, and ‘if it is going to be, it’s up to me’ is an attempt to get fuelled up so you can tear through the day and achieve as much as possible. This creates a burst of adrenaline, which may distort where you place your priorities and how accurately you allocate the correct time-task ratios. Over excitement leads to ‘chasing the shiny object syndrome’ and impulsive decision making, and it then followed with a drop in blood sugar levels accompanied with mood swings, energy crashes, and a general state of poor functioning. Be aware that your energy is your currency so you need to invest it wisely, and nurture it.
Time can get lost in saving other people and healing their pain
There will always be dramas and people who need help with something. When you over-give your time to solve other people’s problems and fix their issues, you are undervaluing your time and reducing the amount of focus you can put into your own priorities. You may be leaking time through the need to be overly helpful and to be validated by others.
Time efficiency is as much about the underlying habits of behaviour and your relationship with pressure as it is about planning and structure. For all the time and expense invested in planning, it would be worth looking at where you are unwittingly leaking time and plug it up.