Wasting the working day is bound to make everyone unhappy as inefficiencies begin to mount. For those rare people who don’t want to spend time on value drivers, here are 10 great ways you can waste your day! This is deliberately provocative, but who can say that they never do any of these things in their workday?
10 ways to waste your workday
Work really hard going in the wrong direction
- Devote as much of your day as possible to projects or activities that have limited impact on the real value drivers in your business.
- Spend your time on urgent things even if they are not important for success in the long term.
- Try and reverse all the decisions you made yesterday.
Learn rocket science
- Don’t delegate things you are not good at to the real experts. Just try and do them yourself — you’ll get there eventually.
- Defer important decisions until you have some more useless or unobtainable information, and then delay the decision for another month.
- Talk around the subject as much as possible, but don’t talk about the real issues or move things forward.
- Repeat what the last person said but don’t use the same words as them. That way it will sound like you are making a different point.
- Over-intellectualise and over-complicate everything you can.
- Focus on the politics, don’t worry about truth or action.
Involve everyone in everything
- Get as many points of view as you possibly can, as it’s great to hear 100 people’s identical perspectives, all expressed in subtly different ways.
- Try to involve people who don’t have the experience or skills to add value, and then listen to them diligently and try to implement their suicidal suggestions.
- Try to spend as much time as possible aligning people on issues that don’t affect them or they cannot contribute to.
Focus on the process, not on the action/issue itself
- Spend your days agonising over the process. Don’t worry about getting things done when there’s a process to be embellished or discussed.
- Make sure you get everything 100% right all the time, even if it’s not particularly important.
- Don’t worry about spending your time perfecting everything to the point where it’s two years too late.
Reinvent the wheel
- Change everything that comes across your desk to reflect your personal views or preferences. Don’t worry about whether your changes are substantive, just make sure things are done your way.
- Revel in the joy of reinventing something that exists or repairing something that works well already.
Make email the focus of your entire day
- Log on to your email at 6am, then spend all your time working on your inbox.
- Respond immediately to emails and start working on anything unimportant or humorous. Defer anything important to another day.
- Send as many emails to as many people as possible, making sure that you are fully covered by copying everyone in the company into every email.
- If you don’t have access to your computer, check your phone every three minutes.
- Don’t bother with the phone and don’t walk 10 metres to talk to the person next to you, just send them another email.
- Don’t waste time doing your own job, spend your time doing someone else’s work or even better, do exactly what another person or department does but in a slightly different way.
Do everything you can think of
- Develop a list of 100 projects or ideas that you think might be good.
- Don’t prioritise those that will have the biggest impact on your company’s performance. Instead, divide your day into 100 individual slots and devote six minutes (1/100 of your working day) to each idea.
- This is great because you will never achieve anything, so you won’t make any mistakes, so you won’t get fired.
Last year we carried out a Complexity Management Survey across 1,000 senior and middle managers and were staggered to find that in the most over-complicated companies, managers were taking more than four months to complete relatively straightforward tasks such as their annual budgeting.
The research also highlighted that there are many ways in which managers and their teams waste their working day, and this is easily done when you consider the number of day-to-day activities. To name but a few, managers and their teams find themselves in meetings, writing emails, reporting on results and key performance indicators, progressing major projects, preparing briefing documents and presentations and talking to customers, colleagues and regulators.
There is significant complexity in all these activities, so attacking this everyday issue is a critical battle in the war on complexity. A central theme of our new book is that firms and the people working in them need to make every effort to focus on simply adding value.
By doing this, not only will the firm perform better, but individual efficiency gains mean people will have more time, that is, they can add the same value in less time or more value in the same time. This gives them more choices in terms of their work-life balance and this generally makes everyone happier.
Asking these two questions can help you be more effective every day:
- Am I doing the right things?
- Am I doing things in the right way?
This is an extract from the new management book, From Complexity to Simplicity, co-authored by Simon Collinson, professor of international business and innovation at Henley Business School, and Melvin Jay, founder of the Simplicity Partnership. More about the book at www.fromcomplexitytosimplicity.com