Intuitively, many of us would say, surely this could not be so! The harder we work the better the result.
But is that necessarily true in all cases?
I read an article in the Australian Financial Review reporting on a trial in Sweden of a 6 hour work day at one of the City Councils and other companies. It seems that there were some positive outcomes because many of those involved had to work out how to do work more effectively. For some of the workers it was quite revolutionary and they are delighted to be still meeting expectations AND having more time for family and other things.
It is pretty well known that for many people the work expands to fit the time available. This has come to be known as Parkinson’s Law, after Cyril Parkinson in the UK made this observation in 1955.
In a sense what the Swedish experiment is testing is the inverse of Parkinson’s Law – does work contract to fit available time with no loss of output?
And this goes to the heart of self-management. (I think time management is not the right term to use, because you can’t really manage time, but you can manage yourself and how you use your time.)
Are you spending your time wisely?
Are you focusing on what is important – that is tasks that take you closer to achieving your goals?
Or are you easily distracted?
For example, in my experience most accountants spend as much as 50% of their time doing work that another (less expensive) person could and should be doing.
So every time you go to do a task, ask yourself “Am I the best person to be doing this task?” Don’t kid yourself either – you will find all sorts of ways to justify why you are the best person but I reckon in many cases it will not be true. And if you have appropriate processes and training you may be surprised how much other people can do.
If you have ever doubted your ability to improve how you spend your time think about what you do in the week or two before you take leave. What I have observed time and time again (and experienced myself!) is that a new level of efficiency and effectiveness is found and productivity goes through the roof!
So, if you could only work say 6 hours a day, what would you focus on?
In your current day, do those tasks first and maybe you will find you really don’t need to do the rest!
Time to apply that old adage of working smarter not harder.
Rob Pillans is the founder of Planet Consulting, dedicated to helping accountants define their version of success, formulate the strategies and implement them to achieve that success. He provides hands on coaching, consulting, training, mentoring and facilitating across Australia and New Zealand. www.planetconsulting.com.au
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