The old saying ‘more haste, less speed’ means if you rush in to things you can miss something and have to do it all over again. At the most basic level, you rush to type an e-mail, press send and then realise you forgot to attach the file that it was all about. At a more serious level, you could jump to conclusions around a staffing issue and make completely the wrong assessment exacerbating a potentially volatile situation.
As project managers we all lead busy lives with lots of demands and pressures on our time. I’ve recently started working with a new client taking control of several governance and PMO aspects of an in-flight programme. It’s been pretty full on and with travelling I’ve been struggling to keep all the usual balls in the air. As a result it has been difficult to find that quiet time to reflect, assess and plan. It’s that sort of time when I normally make the biggest strides in how I want to run a project or PMO, or how to deal with key issues getting in the way of progress. With long days and just a short walk to the hotel, I’ve missed my usual environment where I can I get the opportunity to close the door, turn off the e-mail and the phone and do some serious thinking and producing.
Being productive doesn’t mean working longer, harder or faster. In fact, working longer often reduces productivity, especially over a protracted period. Quality suffers at the hands of quantity. How any days have got through where you have been rushed off your feet but actually delivered very little of real value? Productivity is about quality output not volume or through put.
So how can you make your ration of hours more productive?
- Plan your time. There’s an adage that says today isn’t done until tomorrow is planned. If you take some time out to properly plan the following day’s work a number of beneficial things happen. Firstly, you identify the key things that need to be delivered the next day giving you a better chance of focussing on them. Secondly, you can identify tasks that are better handled by someone else and you can delegate them. And thirdly you have the opportunity to identify time to lead and encourage your team. If you are too busy buried in e-mails, phone calls and meetings you can’t spend the right level of time orking with your team, developing and nurturing them.
- Create some time and space for thinking. I used to use a 45 minute walk from the office to the train station to do my thinking. I could have taken a crowded bus or tube but that wouldn’t have given me a relaxing way to unwind and think. Other people I know get up an hour before everyone else in the house to get some quality quiet time. One guy I know shuts his door for a full 90 minute every morning and has a warning sign on his door – enter at your peril!!
- Take some time out with your management team, or the whole team if you can, to look at what you are doing, who you are doing it and challenge each other to do things different. IF everyone is always too busy, it will stay that way unless you change something. A team away day can be just the catalyst you need to identify and implement changes in the way you work.
What positive things have you done to improve your productivity? Share your experiences with a comment.