The 26 hour work day

Author Iris Clermont talks about the necessity to prioritise workload in order
to be top dog and wave goodbye to unnecessary stress and overtime.

Have you ever faced the situation hurrying along the floor from
meeting ‘A’ to meeting ‘B’, while being aware of an increasing
action points list and finding hardly any time to concentrate
on those? Your day feels like a 26 hour work day while losing the
big picture, the intention, the meaning of your work with the
increasing speed of your own rushed steps.

A pure focus on quality and on the related work on details would
lead to a 26-hour day for most employees involved. Especially
in corporate telecom businesses running through various cost and
headcount reduction programs, and with the rise in complexity of
the tool landscape, engineers no longer have the time or funding
to ‘plug and play’ with the tools I invite you to take your time to
consider what your workload and work task situation looks like. Look
at all the activities and actions written on a blank piece of paper,
keeping the whole picture of your company’s, your team’s and your
own life’s focus and goals in your mind. The big picture helps you to
make your best decisions, and to prioritise all the planned activities
you own and take care of as beneficial as possible.

We all want top quality from the perspective of the customers and
the company as well as from our own motivation drivers to add
value to our work. What I noticed during my projects, interviewing
and observing engineers inside Research and development,
engineers from other departments from corporate companies, is a
tendency to;

- raise the quality no matter howmuch time is spent, and
- create more and more ideas and want to implement the idea without looking
- from the real customers’ perspective (which means asking the customers
and listening to their response),
- enjoy complexity and move away from simplicity and usability.

This trend leads to the opposite of a rise in quality as;

- timelines pass by and projects are delayed,
- services launched are used mostly by supportive,
nonpaying customers,
- managers are requesting more stuff, and
- a list of activities related to details seems
to be endlessly increasing.

This typical engineering behaviour lowers the profit of corporate
companies. The first step is to be aware of this behaviour in your
teams, and the second step is to change those habits towards an
optimal usage of the work time. Prioritisation supports your day
by giving you a clear structure; it speeds up the decision making
process as it helps to clearly focus on top action points, moving you
forward achieving your aims.

Whenever you need to decide which of your activities or meetings
need a higher priority from your company’s perspective, the
following model is meant to support you to ‘unwind’ your time:

- Calculate the impact of the activity to be performed on the
goal and give it a percentage number n.
- Calculate the financial benefits your activity gives to the
company and give it a number m.
- To evaluate the priority of an activity use the formula n*m and
give the activity with the highest number the highest priority.

This model gives you the basis to make fast decisions and to give clear
messages to your colleagues as well as having a basis on which to say
“no” to the less important activities. The calculated prioritisation helps to
keep arguments in your mind and avoid emotional conflicts.

What simplifies your work is to include a prioritisation in your
open action point list. You find this advice in every time management
or ‘simplify your life’ book. Even with this awareness and knowledge, I see
engineers and managers not doing what would be beneficial for them. I
want to encourage you to act upon what you already figured out, and
what helps you achieve your goals in the minimum amount of time.

The ‘starting each day’ questions below are meant to support you
and to motivate you to simplify your day with an optimal usage of
prioritisation.

- On which actions do you want to work today?
- What do you want to achieve by the end of the day?
- What results do you want to reach by the end of this
week and how are the results measured?
- Go through your action point list and think about which of
the actions has the highest probability of helping you to
reach your objectives to attain optimal results.
-Which of the actions help you to measure the results?

Start prioritises now with priorities 1, 2, 3. Make priority 1 the action
with the closest deadline and with the highest customer impact or
with the highest management attention, which is in line with the
company’s mission and vision. Work on priorities 1 and 2 and you
can go home as planned.

Skipping the lowest priority tasks leads to more quality. By saying no
to the lowest priority tasks (3–5) from your open activity list and to
handling low priority e-mails, and instead focusing on the highest
priority tasks that bring the most value to your company and to
your customers, you can use the saved time to take breaks so that
creativity, motivation and positive thinking are part of your day.
Imagine you can go home or enjoy your private life, your hobbies, and
do things that raise your positive feelings.

This priority setting approach including skipping lower priority
tasks requires courage and active thinking to step out of habits
and behaviours into new areas of experiences with the effect of a
balanced work and life and with highly effective individual and
team motivation as well as team results. I wish you great success
with an 8 hour work day and a smile on your face.

© Copyright 2011 Iris Clermont

Abot the author:
Iris Clermont is an international certified coach and process
consultant, the author of the book‘Team Magic’ and a single mother
of three teenagers.

Further information can be found from her web page:
www.aiccoaching.com