27 Jun 2018

What Will I Do Tomorrow?

Lack of time is the universal excuse, used by all from the great and the good, to your children. (They may be there same people). It is also universally acceptable for the very simple reason that everyone uses it and accepts it. Your Boss and his or her Boss uses it and their Boss uses it, and so on, perpetuating a culture of where to be busy, trumps being effective.

Time to stop? Certainly, but how?

The answer is easy, make better decisions about what your time is allocated to.

The problem with this armchair wisdom is that we are at the mercy of a very powerful force, that of our habits. A force which will reconcile us to almost all of our current thinking, working practices, minor decisions about what to do and who to see, for how long and about what?

These habits, grown and matured over several years, are not boxed up in separate compartments where they can be tackled individually, they exist as a complex, three dimensional, sticky web of inter-related behaviours that will have to be untangled and dismantled to make progress.

Here is a list of behaviours that may be familiar to you:

  • We prepare according to the time available rather than the requirement, for example: An important meeting may be allowed preparation time according to how busy the adjacent days are. When we are less busy a meeting gets what it needs, when we are more busy it results in rococo excuses.
  • Busyness is tacitly rewarded. People who do not delegate are protected from additional load because they are so overtly busy. In this scenario, the line manager may compensate retaining tasks that could easily be delegated because the person who should own them is too busy.
  • We say yes to requests, schedules, agendas, ideas and decisions where others are the main beneficiaries.
  • Where no compelling sense of purpose is apparent, behaviours and decisions can be based on what is expedient or possible at the time rather than contributions to the/your strategy, for example: “Yes I could get involved, I have a couple of hours free tomorrow”.

To unlock any of these would require some effort, habits to be broken and new ways of working brought into the mix. Some individuals would have to be sold on the changes and some may have to learn entirely new ways of being in the workplace. All of this would take time and need strong commitments from the leadership.

A starting point can be to stop the use of time as an excuse, forcing the re-appraisal of working methods. If you were to make a commitment to this then what would happen to the four bullet points above?

You could start today and to do so would demand that you consider the question, what will you do tomorrow?

For more on this subject you might consider our Governing Change programme.