Falling into a pattern of ‘doing things the way they’ve always been done’ can hinder our productivity and success; and, it can cause us unnecessary stress.
“Most of us are incredibly careful about how we spend our money,” says Steve Glaveski in his article for the Harvard Business Review. “But when it comes to our time, we hardly give it a second thought.”
Time is more precious than money, however; and it cannot be earned back. To enhance our productivity level, have balance in our lives and treasure our invaluable time, we need to breakout of the paradigms we have set for ourselves. Glaveski suggests we do the following four things: automate; outsource; bucket decisions; and bundle tasks. We have also added in our suggestions on how we have implemented these productivity boosters.
Glaveski notes that there are various processes that can be automated. At Glass of Learning, we found that automating the distribution of newsletters, emails and data backup has helped us to be more productive.
There is an endless number of tools available online to help with productivity. Some we recommend, include:
- Dropbox for file sharing. This is also great for adding comments or edits to documents; and having direct conversations with team members in order to avoid excess email
- Zoom for meetings and virtual training. The ‘anecdote’ and ‘breakout’ room features provide opportunities for many to engage in the conversation.
- Clockify for tracking time. We use this to track how much time each individual spends on a project and analyze the amount of time a particular task requires.
- Mentimeter is a tool for creating polls, word clouds and quiz activities while running a meeting or training session.
Some repetitive tasks can’t be automated and for that, Glaveski suggests outsourcing. “If it’s a low-risk, repeatable, non-complex task that somebody else can do for you at fraction of what your hourly rate is, why are you still doing it?”
Typically, an individual does not “do the math” on their time to determine if it really produced the value for the dollars spent. It’s important to understand the value we are providing in the tasks that we do.
Glaveski includes a handy chart that breaks down the type of task and its worth:
Is Your Work Worth $10 an Hour or $10,000 an Hour?
Not all decisions carry the same weight. Some may not even be as crucial as we make them out to be. Drawing on Jeff Bezos’ approach, Glaveski recommends bucketing decisions into Type 1 and Type 2 categories. “Type 1 decisions are big, hairy, irreversible, and high-stakes,” he says. “Type 2 decisions are reversible. If you screw up, you can make amends without too much, if any, harm having been caused.”
He says that most of our decisions are Type 2 and they should be made swiftly. They shouldn’t cut into our time or overtake meetings and resources. Once we start making choices in this manner, it can quickly clear up the backlog of decisions that need to be made.
Bundling tasks is when you group things that you want to do with things you need to do. For example, say you have an important book to read in preparation for a presentation or meeting. You can do the reading in isolation or you can get the audio version and group it with another activity such as driving, exercising or cooking. Or if you are preparing for a presentation, record yourself on your phone and listen to this while you are commuting.
Sadly, too many of us have fallen into the belief that emails must be answered right away, menial tasks must be completed urgently, and that we always have to be accessible. These actions really affect our productivity and negatively influence our stress levels. By applying some of the above tools and practises, we can get a better hold of our time.
“When we say we’re time-poor, what we really mean is that we’re decision-poor,” Glaveski says. “And that’s something we can change.” We have the choice to live our life by default or live our life by design. Let’s choose to live our life by design and eliminate the obstacles that bog us down.