I have come across two articles recently confirming my long held view – working long hours is inefficient and bad value for customers. Yet it is such a common feature of our business life that we accept it as the norm. In fact in Meredith Fineman’s article, “Please Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are”, (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/09/please_stop_complaining_about.html?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews) there is a strong message about long hours being part of the macho business culture. Lucy Kellaway, the FT’s management columnist, says the same in her recent podcast, “Working round the clock is a poor use of time” ( http://podcast.ft.com/index.php?sid=18).
So let’s stand back and approach this logically. Consider the following points:
Research and good opinion say that working long hours are inefficient. If you are inefficient you are reducing your competitiveness and not giving as much value to your customer as you could.
If you are working long hours and have not plan to reduce it then are you struggling with self-control and time management?
Do you want to remain inefficient? Do you want to be less competitive? Do you want to waste your time? Of course not, so here are some ideas you could consider to make your life easier, improve your efficiency and make you more competitive:
1. Review what you do and ask yourself, “would my customer (external or internal) pay for everything I do?”. For those tasks where you answer “No”, then find a way to stop doing those tasks.
2. Similarly are there tasks that you can give to a colleague to do, either in the short term or as a permanent delegated responsibility? I am always amazed at how resistant people are to delegation – quicker to do it myself; can I trust them, etc. Yet would we say to our bosses, “please don’t delegate to me, I’m too slow and can’t be trusted!” Of course not. So maybe you could let go a bit more than you think.
3. You should also consider managing your time more rigidly – as Meredith says in her article, constrain time to help you focus on what really needs to be done, or use a scheduler. I must admit I follow the Getting Things Done (GTD) method, well most of the time! And I find it forces me to review and prioritise how I use my time.
What other advice would you give a long hours worker?