At some point every year, I lose my voice for a few days. Because my job is to communicate company strategy and keep my team motivated, it’s a tricky problem. I have to choose every word carefully because too much small talk could extend my speechlessness.
But instead of wishing I had my voice back, I work efficiently with what I have. The same can be said for time. All executives crave more time, but not all of us use the time we already have efficiently.
Obstacles and Time Stealers
If you’re anything like me, you love work but not all the structural maintenance that surrounds it. Some processes, for example, drive me nuts. Why do 56 percent of common HR activities require approval from the HR department? I understand that approving purchase orders, invoices, and vacation days takes time to manage, but why so much time? You’re usually giving a yes or no answer to these questions, but the red tape sometimes makes it feel like you’re using nuclear launch codes.
The rigidity of these structures is their undoing. Efficient work is about getting things done — often in the moment. And the processes in and away from your office should reflect that.
If you complain about not having enough time, fix it. If you’re the leader, you shouldn’t allow a structure that steals your time.
Make It About Moments
The toughest business to run is “running” a family — you never know what drama will happen next with one of the kids. A bleeding knee, a lost toy, a nasty breakup? No matter what, caring parents always find that magical moment when time seems to stand still and the only thing that matters is taking care of a loved one. So when you’re short on time, make it about those magical moments that really matter:
- Moments of Yes
Questions with one-word answers shouldn’t require entire emails. If someone needs to sign off on something, let that person give approval or denial with a single smartphone tap. You’ll eliminate thousands of hours in wasted time by simply going mobile and avoiding a cumbersome system.
- Moments of Reach
My job is to communicate with everyone in the organization, and when my lines of communication shut down, it inhibits my ability to function. If not everyone has access to the same lines of communication — for instance, if many employees work remotely — that task is even more laborious. Without clear lines of communication, the whole system bogs down.
Today, reach is no longer an issue. You can reach everyone where they always are: on their smartphones. Turn your announcements, instructions, and processes into mobile moments, and you’ll save countless hours while keeping everyone informed.
- Moments of Truth
Business is about information. Communicating key figures such as the forecast, inventory, or any other metrics should be as easy as reading about last night’s game.
Turn those key figures into moments of truth on your smartphone, saving people hours of digging through emails or staring at that huge dashboard with overwhelming information.
- Moments of Productivity
None of this is really magic; it’s all about empowerment and engagement. If you’re short on time, don’t look for more. Use the time you do have more productively. Turning all your approvals, communications, and key figures into small magical moments cuts wasted hours and boosts productivity — leaving time for the things you care about most, whether that’s an extra brainstorming session or an extra hour with the kids.
Always ask yourself, “If I had just one more moment, how would I make that moment count?”