Slow down to go faster

Are you trying to accomplish more with less? With less resource, less budget and less time? Just stop a moment. Is this really the best way for you to do business? I suspect it becomes habitual and then we don’t even realise we are going faster and faster.

For many our typical reaction to the above is to work harder, work longer hours and run faster from one task to another. How much of the pressure is from your clients and customers, how much is from your boss and how much is from you? Do you have clients for whom everything is last minute and a rush? How much has simply become habit?

My fear is that rushing has become the new norm. That rushing becomes habitual and yet when we rush we are less likely to do our best work. Instead we do work which is ‘ok’. Our clients make out that the rushed deadline is the most important goal. Yet once the work is delivered the deadline is quickly forgotten and what now becomes critical to the client is the result. Clients quickly forget the tight deadline they gave us.

Do you want my first ideas or my best ideas?

The other dilemma is that when we rush we are more likely to make mistakes. Mistakes are costly to us in several ways. Firstly to put them right – and at our cost and at even greater speed. Secondly the client, or our boss, is now questioning our ability. Thirdly clients and bosses have an uncanny knack of remembering our mistakes long after we’ve put them right.

I see many of my clients juggling and wondering how they will manage their workload. Here are 10 tips to help you take back control.

  1. Get better. Be the best at what you do. Don’t be average at many things. Be outstanding at one or two things. Specialise.
  2. Focus on your priorities first. Have clear goals and avoid being distracted by the minutiae of business. The more senior we are the more vital it is to take time to stop, think and plan. Decide what is urgent and what is important. The danger is the urgent can take precedence over the important. Find time to slow down. Find at least 1 hour each day, 2-3 hours each week, 1 day each month to really think. Slow down to go faster.
  3. Get away from your desk to really think creatively. Typically our best ideas come spontaneously when we least expect them. Know when you think innovatively – it may be in the shower, walking, swimming or painting. There is no single right way but know what’s your right way.
  4. Push back. Be brave and push back on ridiculous deadlines and insufficient budgets. Will you always get more budget or more time – of course not. But you will get more some of the time. Think carefully before you automatically say ‘yes’ to every demand. 50% of your problems are probably caused by you saying yes too easily.
  5. Solving problems on your own can be over-whelming and we may be more emotionally caught up in the issue. Find a buddy or two. Chat through problems and ambitions with them. By explaining your challenge to them forces you to clarify your thinking regardless of their response. They will often give you a fresh or different perspective.
  6. Do it, delegate it, or dump it. Don’t procrastinate. Be decisive.
  7. Anticipate what is likely to happen. Consider the various options that are likely and how you will respond. When we are under pressure we often don’t think through the implications of our options and decisions. Take control of your future. If you don’t then who else will?
  8. Systematise. Find ways to be more effective on tasks which are repeated. How can you find systems and methods of working to reduce the time involved and improve the quality. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Will you slow down and take time to think more? Or are you already thinking about the 37 actions on your to-do list that need doing today?

Article first published in Dealer support