5 Smart Ways To Speed Up Your Day (Beyond Caffeine)
Life for a manager inside an organization has an unrelenting pace, with very little uninterrupted time. My colleague Joe Folkman and I have spent two years researching the ways leaders can increase their ability to work faster without comprising quality. Being fast isn’t about being frantic. Leaders who were ranked as most successful in leadership speed were able to use their knowledge, team members, and environment to maximize their efficiency. To that end, here are five ways every leader can successfully speed up their day.
1. Examine your assumptions. People who are extremely sensitive to criticism often move slowly and check and recheck their work. They focus on avoiding mistakes rather than on accomplishing the maximum. If you are a person who tends to move cautiously, think about the benefits of producing a great deal more. Is it worth the risk of a mistake? Are there other beliefs and attitudes you hold that slow your pace? Often these beliefs are not completely rational. Try moving your work along more quickly. Set yourself a challenging deadline to complete the project, or to make the decision.
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2. Set the pace when you are initiating conversations and guide others. You can be a social and polite person without letting others rob you of your time. The former CEO of HCL Technologies in India, Vineet Nayar, noted that in most interactions, “there is something that I need from you or you need from me.” When someone dropped by Nayar’s office, he would say, “So you need something from me; what is it?” The person would then say something like, “I need your approval to purchase this.” He would reply with something like, “Describe it briefly to me.” The person would do that, and most often he would say, “Approved.” There are times when someone wants to have a laid back chat and if it is not a good time for you, there are ways to respectfully hasten the pace. Standing up sends a clear signal. Ask questions that help others get to the heart of the matter.
3. Stop multitasking. Studies have shown that multitasking really doesn’t save time or make you more efficient. Strangely, those who think they are good at multitasking are generally found to be the worst. Frequent multitaskers have more difficulty organizing their thoughts and are slower in switching from one task to another. The bottom line is this: Our brains work most efficiently when they focus on one thing at a time.
4. Delegate to team members. I’ve observed that when people are pressed for time, they often resort to “I’ll do it myself! It’s quicker.” This is obviously a shortsighted solution. It may be faster at this moment in time, but it doesn’t build organizational capacity, nor does it develop the subordinate who is capable of taking on additional activities. When you delegate effectively, the leader is freed up to focus on activities only they can perform, while subordinates take on additional activities that expand the scope of their job and usually increase their satisfaction as well.
5. Learn and use the latest technology. There are so many wonderful applications that make work easier and faster. The biggest challenge is simply staying abreast of the stream of new applications that help you increase productivity. It is true that one size does not fit all. The key is to find the options that are compatible with the way you work.
For most leaders, there is an endless list of things to do. However, the past few years of studying leadership speed has taught me that there is a wide spectrum of productivity among leaders. Those who constantly strive to increase their personal productivity set the pace for their group. Their speed is contagious. They are able to get a lot more done than their slower colleagues.
Information about Jack Zenger’s new book, “Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution” is available here.