There are all these productivity systems out there, and I find this one thing is often underestimated. Speed.
We don’t live in a world where what comes in is controlled and steady. If you are like the typical knowledge worker, it is absolute chaos on a given business workday with calls, emails, meetings and requests.
That’s because it is so easy to move information around. When it was slow and awkward, we could react with a steadiness to our work.
Furthermore, large industrial companies had all these managers, specialists and workers silo’d in their limited roles and functions. That model was inspired by the assembly line and we could afford the daisy chain flow of work. It looks silly today from this vantage point because our tools and technology are ridiculously efficient and connected.
The average person carries a supercomputer in their pockets and can get what they want wherever and whenever.
That also means that a request becomes work for another person. It’s why workdays can feel overwhelming. You have to react to all these unknown and unanticipated requests.
It’s why I believe the key skill today is making meaning and moving to action. It is personal leadership. The faster and clearer you are then the more the chains move towards your goals. That is assuming you have your goals clear as well.
And here are a few strategies to make speed and clarity work for you in the daily trenches and get things done:
- Master email. Most knowledge work gets done by email. Your vendors, prospects, clients and teammates understand email. Keep it simple. It hasn’t died. It is rarely used well, however. Learn shortcuts, drive speed and move communications quickly.
- Make people react. Start your mornings with rituals. One of these is to get your requests out there. Again, send twenty emails out there. You typically need other people to get your tasks done. Simply get things out of your head and email the people you need. The hot potato is in their court and they have to react. It’s an easy way to drive tasks. I would encourage using this instead of task lists as well. Simply use emails to start the processes you need to get done with other people.
- Say No. When you are unclear or don’t have enthusiasm behind something, simply say, “No.” It’s the fastest way to get things off your plate and complete projects. In fact, start your task review this way. If you really miss an opportunity, or it’s that valuable, the request will come up again. Most things simply don’t matter.
Your goal each day is to clear your workload and push it onto others to react. You can lead from your world in this giant information ecosystem by staying simple, focused and decisive.
Then, use that freed up time and mind space to be creative. That’s what allows for further leadership and working on the things that matter to you. You may need training to make this happen. I would highly encourage the investment. You deal with this chaos every day and it makes an immense impact on your overall results.