“We have found that, on average, people spend 30% of their working life on tasks that they do not have to do”
We all like to think that we are good at what we do, but what’s the point in being good at something you don’t actually have to do? We have found that, on average, people spend 30% of their working life on tasks that they do not have to do – sound familiar? Add all this individual waste at corporate level and you can see a huge opportunity to reallocate resources and investment into the right areas and even create some time to think!
Unfortunately there is a culture that exists in many businesses that just isn’t helping. We are rewarded for being busy – not stopping unnecessary things from happening. Stars stay late and slackers leave early (or on time!) and this is often reflected by who gets the bonuses and the promotions. But this is driving the wrong behaviours.
Too many people fill up their time working on projects that are not justified or going to meetings that simply don’t need to take place. However, we all love a good meeting! They allow us to catch up with colleagues and give us the chance to engage the wider population - however is it right that too many meetings don’t leaving you enough time to do your job? As a consequence we take on too much, targets and projects become aspirations rather than commitments and the important things don’t get done.
Simply put: we work too hard to achieve too little.
In reality, cancelling the unnecessary will give you more time to focus on the really important stuff, however, work avoidance is an art and rather disappointingly can take some time.
If we have described your problem perfectly, we recommend a three step process:
Buy some time
You should look for some quick wins in the diary to give yourself some breathing space and try to keep half a day each week free to focus on removing unnecessary activities from your diary, project program or organisation.
Eliminate the unnecessary
Work through every single commitment in your diary and challenge the need, scale and frequency of meetings. Be very clear on the ones that are important and cancel the ones that are not adding any value. You should also aim to reduce the duration, frequency and attendance of the rest. For example, you could move quarterly reviews to every 4 months.
This advice is not just relevant when it comes to meetings, the same solution should be applied intelligently for all work, projects and initiatives.
Be efficient at what’s left but make sure you do it well and on time
Meetings are a great place to start! The trick to getting this right is to make sure all meetings have a clear agenda and aim that everyone is aware of before they enter the room. Work to that agenda rather than always using the full amount of time reserved for the meeting. Focus on the aim and have a quality discussion to deliver this but aim to be efficient in the way you do this. Don’t be embarrassed to finish early - this gives people more time to go and complete their actions.
This example is based around an individual’s working day so imagine the potential of applying the same principles to the whole organisation. This does involve a more complex process but the prize can be significant savings as well as creating an environment where it is easier and quicker to get things done! If your people are saying it takes too long to make changes or that morale is falling because of similar frustrations then maybe this is a program you should be considering.
We have worked with many clients to help them work less and succeed more and see this as one of the most common, unrecognised and potentially high impact areas of opportunity. It’s not easy and we have developed a number of tools to help clients get through this as quickly and effectively as possible. Our help has resulted in individuals releasing an additional 2 days per week to bring a fresh focus on their work. In fact, we have previously helped a client to reduce costs and total work scope by just over 29% in a three month period.
It can be done so give us a call!