When a colleague of mine initially started publishing a required
report each day, he would get regular questions
about it. As time passed, the number of questions subsided.
He figured the report had run its course, but he was asked to
keep producing it for no reason except that it had always been done
that way. He cleverly added a box on the report that read, “Space for
Rent.” Over a year, not one person questioned it or even commented
on it. He changed the frequency of sending the report to weekly before
eventually stopping—and no one questioned it.
Don’t accept that “It’s always been that way.” Let’s take a trip back
to our childhood. Why is the sky blue? Where do babies come from?
Okay, let’s keep the last one out of it. The point is to get back to the
natural childhood curiosity that many of us grew out of. As important
as routines are for us to maintain stability in our day, when was the last
time you brought your natural curiosity to work? Routines are only as
good as our ability to understand their value.
Why is this report important to read each day? What am I gaining
by attending this meeting if my peer is already there and can report
back? Why am I working late? Is it because real work needs to be done,
or is it because I’m trying to impress someone? The answers to these real
questions can serve to help you find pockets of wasted time. There may
be opportunities for collaboration, teamwork, or even just stopping a
practice that is no longer effective.
It’s time to be a curious child again. Starting today, question the
whys to what you’re doing. Why do I need to travel to some meetings
when I can be just as productive over the phone? Why have I allowed
junk mail to clutter my inbox as opposed to unsubscribing? There are
many questions that can and should be asked. You may find that the
answers confirm that a particular task does indeed add value to the
work you’re doing. That’s a good thing. Keep doing that task. What
you’re looking for are the pockets of unproductive time that you can
eliminate. You might surprise yourself and your co-workers with more
time to concentrate on the more important tasks.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby