We all had those days when we come to the office in the morning and the race begins; we blink just for a second and it is 5 pm already. We have had our hands full for the entire day but there’s still a pile of stuff to do. How it can be? Is there a way to deal with it faster and in a more efficient way? Maybe there is…but there is no time to think about it – there is too much to do!
How often do we feel like this? How many times did we put away our ideas because we felt we couldn’t indulge in anything but our everyday work? We would spend our days doing our daily routines and only after everything was complete could we allow ourselves to think about any innovations, brilliant ideas that had been on our minds for a long time. How many potentially great innovations of yours had to be disregarded as they were too time consuming to prepare, analyze and execute? Let’s be honest, innovation is perceived as a cherry on top; when everything else is done, you can have some time to entertain your idea.
Let’s say you have an idea and you have time to make something about it, what will you need?
Time – time to think, to analyze and see whether it will work or fail.
People – to discuss your idea with, supervisors to accept it, colleagues to help introduce it.
Money – not always, but sometimes there’s a need for some purchases for your idea to work.
Realizing how much work must be invested in improvement can be discouraging, and even in the best-case scenario when innovation doesn’t require money and doesn’t engage other people, there’s still our most precious possession and obstacle – the time.
That’s a really complicated notion, how do we manage our time?
Do we even realize our time management strategies or do we just act involuntarily?
I always thought that I’m great at managing my time; the proof being that I was able to do a lot of urgent things in a short period of time, a few at once even, and then I went for a time management class and I realized that my entire day is filled with urgent cases piling up on my desk and that my job turned into a crisis management.
How did it happen?
Well, what I have learned is that there’re four types of assignments:
|Not urgent and not important||Urgent but not important|
|Not urgent but important||Urgent and important|
Now think about your job and your responsibilities.
Put your assignments in relevant boxes.
Now ask yourself which box is the one that takes the most of your work time?
Now ask yourself implementation of which one would make the biggest difference long term?
I imagine most of the workforce has answers similar to mine: My day was filled up with stuff urgent and important (which is ok) and urgent and not important (which is a real problem).
To make matters worse it was “not urgent but important” box that was filled with initiatives which could make real difference, with improvements and potential innovations I could never implement because I was swamped with urgent but not important stuff.
Question that appears is how to change our everyday work process to make a room for potential upgrades?
We know that what we definitely need is time to revise and analyse and implement them. So how do we make time for it?
- First we need to see what we can move from our agenda. Maybe there are items that can be postponed or delegated.
- Second step is to talk to the manager about potential ideas and signal the need for time to explore it. It’s essential to explain what this idea can change and what we need exactly to be able to introduce it. We shouldn’t be afraid to say where we see a potential for a good change, but also, we need to clarify that this is the first step and that we need time to investigate to see if it can be useful and applicable.
- When we receive the approval to investigate the idea, we should remember that it’s crucial to examine the idea fairly and test it against our manager’s and colleagues opinions.
- We should also be prepared to present and explain to our supervisors what we have found out even if it was a no-go, we should be able to demonstrate why we concluded it’s not a good idea after all.
- If the outcome of our search is that our idea can be useful, we should provide our manager with examples of applicability and we should talk to them about how to implement and present it to our colleagues.
The most important factor needed to initiate any improvements is to change your way of thinking about it and decide that it’s essential to find time to just sit and think instead of just doing. Thinking and innovating is as much part of the job for us as for example contacting candidates.
Now just for fun try and fill Urgent/Important boxes with your everyday out of work activities and think which box is full of ideas that would make your life better but are not urgent enough to act on them…Scary thought, right?