Three Ways To Get More Time

One of the refrains that I often hear in the meeting room or casual conversation is, “I’m too busy.” Every time I hear that phrase I cringe. I understand that everyone has a steady stream of work that they are responsible to complete. I also understand that there are times that I have to put in extra time and effort to satisfy all of my responsibilities. But I think that a person’s well being is in danger if they live in a constant state of being¬†too busy, and never have a chance to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments. To take back your time you may have to take some radical steps. How many hours do you think you can save in the next week using the following techniques?

  1. Stop doing someone else’s job.¬†Many times I watch an employee another person’s job because the first person doesn’t thing the second is doing things right. Are you the person who is re-doing another person’s work? What if you decided to teach the other person the proper way to do the work? It might take longer at first, but in the end your investment will pay of in many saved hours. As an alternative, what if you just didn’t do the other person’s work? Would it really be the end of the world? This concept of saving time also ties into our third concept as you will see below.
  2. Say NO. When someone comes to you with more work, say NO. If you are truly too busy they you are not the right person in the organization to be doing the work. You won’t be adding value to the work if you never get to it, or if you do a half-baked job. Sometimes saying NO doesn’t have to sound like a no. You can:
    • Ask the requestor to decide which task you will say NO to. “Yes, I can do what you are asking me to, but when I do, I won’t be able to do a, b, or c. Which one of all of these tasks is most important?”
    • Ask the requestor to make an investment in getting the task done. “Yes, I can do what you are asking me to do, but I need you to do these 3 parts of the work, and take over this other piece of work that would stand in the way of me getting what you are asking done.” If you take this approach make sure that you hand off just as much work as you take on. You will save yourself time because you aren’t just adding extra work to your workload, You actual come up effort-neutral for the new task.
  3. Only complete the work 80%. Sometimes we spend too much effort on something that doesn’t matter. Sometimes we only need to put in 80% of the effort that we thought we needed. I am not advocating that you slack off. But putting in 80% effort is an easy thing to test. You can often easily talk to the recipient of the work and say: “Here is a draft of my work. What else do you think it needs?” You can also say, “I didn’t put in a, b, c. . . .” Be careful with the second approach, it might just put ideas in the recipient’s mind. But if in the first or second case the recipient is happy with your 80% effort, you have just saved yourself 20% of your time on that project. To be clear: I am not recommending slacking. If you can put in 100% of your effort and not be ‘too busy’, give 100% every day. This is a time-saving tip for when you have more work than hours in the day. Something has to give, and it is better that you make a choice and have a conversation about the quality of some of your work, than let your work suffer because you fell asleep on the computer at 2am trying to give 100% to everything.

Everyone wants to get some more time. Now you have 3 ways that you can get back some of your time and hopefully be ‘the right amount of busy.’