It’s easy to get lazy and start resting on one’s laurels. Now: when I say “lazy,” I don’t mean “not working”—I don’t believe putting in more hours makes one less lazy. I’m talking about intellectual laziness. I’m talking about accepting the way things are rather than trying to improve them.
4 years after I graduated college, I started writing H2CC. In those 4 years, I’d learned a whole lot about what I want to do with my life, about how to get along with people, about how to navigate the corporate world and solve tough problems. It’s been great.
I also learned a lot about productivity. My job over the past 4 years, as an operations consultant, has been to help multi-billion dollar organizations make what they make a whole lot more efficiently. This means eliminating waste on the production line, but it also means helping very talented teams of engineers, managers, and execs become way more effective in what they do.
But until I started writing H2CC, I’d been lazy about my own effectiveness. I spent all my brain space working, and didn’t reserve any to improve the way I worked. To some extent, I probably assumed I was “optimized,” that I’d peaked. After all, I’m a productivity expert.
Shame on me!
Writing H2CC was a kick in the pants that reminded me that there’s always gobs of opportunity to eliminate wasted time and work much, much more effectively. I obviously didn’t actually learn any new concepts writing H2CC, but it did get me thinking, and it forced me to go back to the structure that worked so well for me in college and try it again during my adult life.
I thought I wouldn’t find much wasted time… boy, was I surprised.
Between Time Studies and getting back to tracking the effectiveness of some of the old time recover solutions I’d already implemented, I learned very quickly that—of course—loads of opportunity existed for me. I’ll go through the long details in a later post, but here are a few good examples of wasted time opportunities I found (and executed on!) from test-driving H2CC on myself:
My Time Study revealed, in sum, that data analysis made up the biggest opportunity for me to waste less time. Digging deeper I found I was spending over 4 hours per week (!!) wrangling with the commands of Excel and other various analysis tools. I worked up the courage to engage a more-knowledgeable colleague to fill in the gaps for me and then teach me how. It’s only about 30 minutes per week for them. I take a few things off their plate in return, and so am still saving almost 4 hours from the decision.
I saw in my Time Study that I was spending more than 6 hours per week in meetings (on top of otherwise super-efficient action reviews). I challenged each of these and had over 3 hours of them converted into email updates with quick follow-up phone calls.
I’d let my web surfing discipline slip and I put my top 5 time-wasters into “StayFocusd” to limit how much time I spend on them, worth over 2 hours/week.
I cut my morning routine by 15 minutes by starting cooking breakfast before hopping in the shower—the bacon/veggies/beans are ready for eggs by the time I get out (I used SMED for this), worth about an hour a week
This was great! I’m able to turn that 10 hours to all sorts of great stuff, like working on marketing for the book, starting the notes for my next book (topic is currently a secret!), and learning German.
But what’s the key takeaway? For me, there are two:
The principles and basic structure from H2CC are universal—a clever mind can apply them anywhere in life.
There’s always, always room to improve. Even a productivity guru has loads of opportunity to eliminate lots more wasted time.