One of the benefits of running an entrepreneurial organization is that almost by definition, it is a quest for doing more work in a shorter period of time at a lower cost. This is not some golden rule for entrepreneurs, it is a necessity. So you have to learn all the tricks there are to become more productive. The problem is that most advice handed out about time management and maximizing productivity looks viable as long as it’s in a management book or a training course but once you are back in the office, it’s just not practical.
For example, how many times have you heard that there are only so many seconds in the day and time never comes back. Has it made any difference? So maybe it’s time to explore some other strategies. How does one get more work done in the same time? Here are some ways that have proven to be really useful for me and a lot of other people. You may be surprised with how effective these can be…
Real-time, 360 degrees
This requires a bit of explanation. Some years ago, my company was working with a US-based management trainer who had just concluded a successful 2-day training engagement. Flush with this success and happy with the financial return for both him and my company, we sat down for a relaxing cup of coffee in the hotel lobby area. The trainer asked me what topics might be good for a repeat engagement and when might be a good time in the next quarter to schedule this. Relaxed as I was, I said I would deliberate over this then revert to him in 2 weeks time.
The trainer seemed flustered by this and asked me why two weeks – why not right now when both of us were present and could decide here and now? I thought to myself: this guy doesn’t understand the way we work here. What’s his hurry anyway? Can’t we savor the moment and relax? We can do this another day. He insisted however that we decide topics and dates right away and start preparing for the next event. He wanted to finalize not just the topic but also the city, the schedule, etc and finalize we did before the coffee was finished.
I realized later that he was using the real-time, 360 degrees approach – coming to grips with all aspects of a task and getting it done in one go without all the to-ing and fro-ing. Another more recent example is when one of my colleagues and I agreed to work on our company’s training calendar. The usual procedure is he prepares a draft, this goes through iterations and consultation and finally, several weeks later, it gets posted on our website. So this time I suggested we do this real-time, with both of us present, planning sheets in hand, website opened up for editing. Result? Same work, published on the website and ready for public consumption in 90 minutes!
Take a task you have been struggling with, get everybody on board and don’t let go until it’s completed. It’s liberating and tremendously satisfying.
Saturday morning boost
Monday-Friday office hours are for productive work and Saturday mornings are reserved for getting up late for brunch or so the fable goes. The truth is that office hours are usually anything but productive. Don’t get me wrong – I am not about to advocate working from home just yet. The office is a fundamental ecosystem for the majority of us. I am talking more about being in the office when no one else is.
Working early on a Saturday morning – or the early morning on one of those excessive public holidays that our country announces so liberally and generously – is an amazing experience to be tried whenever possible. No distraction other than the coffee, the family asleep at home and the full bandwidth of the broadband connection at your disposal. I have found that I can double my productivity on many such occasions. Creativity shoots up, you have laser-like focus and life feels good because so much gets done and out-of-the-way.
So you are a perfectionist and it takes a lot of time for you to complete a job that can come up to your own exacting standard. Dan Sullivan who is a Canadian business coach came up with the idea called the 80% Rule or the “almost perfect” rule that suggests you accept an almost perfect job and quickly move on to the next task. This helps to move things along because it’s usually the last 20% of the task that takes up most of the time.
This is not meant to imply mediocrity; it’s just to avoid perfectionism getting in the way of completing a task that is already well done.