Minimalism at work: Break out the red pen
Monday, October 31, 2016
As soon as we decide to do less, it becomes more clear how much we have yet to do. As we touched on in the previous article about minimalism at work, taking the time to assess, streamline and then honestly acknowledge what is left is the foundation for bringing minimalist tactics to the office.
Once we have removed the superfluous meetings and tasks, we are left with our list of must-do items. Carefully confronting and curating that list will leave us and our teams with a better focus and a clearer path to success.
But how do we edit out the goals and tasks it still seems we must do to get down to the core, meaningful work that will progress us forward?
It may take some time to shed the projects that are distracting us from our essential tasks, especially if they involve other teams or leaders. But it can get done. Start by taking these three steps.
1. Plan transparently
Create a plan for what will get done and when as well as what is being moved to the parking lot to be addressed at an unspecified time in the future. Define clear reasons for why the projects appear where they do on the timeline and work with external stakeholders and other leaders who are affected to garner at least acknowledgment or, ideally, buy-in.
The goal is to show why more will get done by enabling a clear focus now.
2. Be consistent
Stick to your guns and have a plan in place to continue to check in regularly. Everything and everyone will work to get you off course. Tasks, meetings, calls and new fires will try to fill the newfound space you have worked so hard to create.
Be diligent and protect the time you have created for you and your team to focus. Stick to your plan and consistently remind everyone why it is in place.
3. Track it
It is tough to argue with success. Gather your metrics from the time when you and your team were running in all directions at multiple targets and use that as the baseline as you progress. Include sick days, time spent in meetings and overtime in your metrics as an additional way to show progress.
With a clear goal to get more done by focusing on fewer priorities, it will be easier to track progress as well as ancillary successes.
Once you have planned and begun to implement a less-is-more strategy at work, identify the hurdles that pop up in your initial stages. These initial obstacles will point to systemic problems that may continue to recur throughout your plan. Identifying them early as issues you just may have to deal with can help you manage your expectations and help your team forego discouragement.
It is possible to remove distractions at work, focus only on a few, critical tasks and make more progress than ever. With an honest, transparent approach, realistic expectations and patience, it is possible to reduce wasted time and increase progress.
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