Ever wonder how to make work easier?
Nope, the ole’ button from our friends at Staples won’t do it. . .
But trying new things will.
I’m a huge fan of the workplace experiment.
Yes, even in your set-in-our-ways workplace, there’s room for a few tests.
Experiments, pilots, test runs: they’re low risk/high reward strategies to let you try out new ways of doing (or even thinking).
Each test can lead you to fresh discoveries and ideas about how to make work easier and still get the same–or even better–results. So why wait?
How to Make Work Easier: 7 Experiments to Save Time, Money & Stress (& You Can Start Right Now)
First, Not Sure How to Get Started? Steal This Script
An experiment to make work easier works best when everyone’s in on the game. Be clear, be honest, and be specific about what you’re trying to do.
Here’s a script you can steal:
“I know we’re all looking for ways to create more time in our days so we get more of what matters done. So, for the next three months, I’d like us to try an experiment. Starting on DATE 1 and ending on DATE 2, we’ll [fill in experiment details from one of the items below.]
It may work; it may not! But no matter what happens, I expect this experiment will give us other ideas about how to balance working well together with having enough focus to get our individual work done. On DATE 2, we’ll regroup and decide how to move forward using the lessons we’ve learned.
Thanks as always for your contributions to our team, and I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts and observations as we experiment together.”
Make sure that DATE2–your experiment’s end date–is on your calendar, and that you’ve already reserved time to reflect and make the decisions to continue, alter, or stop the experiment totally.
Now, choose your experiment!
Are there regularly scheduled meetings that you’re responsible to lead? Open your calendar and make a quick list.
- Which one’s become a habit, not a need?
- Trust your gut on this one–you KNOW where you and your team have fallen into slumpy patterns.
ACTION: Cancel that meeting for the next three months.
Then, book 15 minutes on your calendar three months from now to review the question, “What have we missed by not having the XYZ meeting? What are we doing instead? What do I need to do now?”
Did you know that most meetings are scheduled for an hour because that’s how the original calendaring technology set it up? Time to take control of your time once again.
ACTION: For the next three months, change all of your hour-long meetings to 45 minutes.
See if it revs up the energy, forces partipants to plan more and to be more concise.
ACTION: Use a countdown clock in your meeting: on your phone, or even projected up on a screen in the room.
You’ll find several online, or just use an old fashioned kitchen timer that ticks!
ACTION: Decide to stop attending meetings where you’re just gathering info and not contributing.
Instead, book a ten minute call with someone in the meeting and debrief on the key topics. Offer to do the same for them next time.
Are you someone who often needs to write a report, summary email, or create some kind of presentation that shares your knowledge with others in your organization–but you HATE to write?
ACTION: Replace one of those written reports, summaries or presentations with a video or audio instead. Just turn on your device and tell the story as if you were in person:
- Here’s the main topic;
- Here’s what you need to know,
- Here’s my recommendation;
- Here’s the next action;
Speaking your thoughts instead of writing them out often can take half the time–especially if writing’s not your jam.
It’s often more effective in getting your points heard and understood, too.
- If your phone doesn’t have a built-in recorder, search “voice recorder apps” and find one that works with your particular device. I use Voice Recorder on my iPhone, and QuickTime on my Mac Air.
- File too big to email? Use a free shared service such as Google Docs or Dropbox, and you can send them a private link.
- For video, YouTube allows you to create an unlisted link, which can only be found by people with the specific link.
ACTION: Speak your report or summary out loud and record it as an MP3 file (see experiment 5).
Upload the file for free to otter.ai, and download a rough transcript of what you’ve said.
Use that transcript to jumpstart your written report so you don’t have to start from scratch.
ACTION: Review your project list (or software if you have it, such as Trello or Basecamp). What work are you or others regularly doing that you’re no longer sure matters? Stop doing (or requesting) that work for three months.
For example, what reports does your team complete weekly, monthly or quarterly that no one uses to make decisions? What updates do you make weekly to projects that only need attention each quarter?
Work changes quickly, and efforts that may have mattered a year ago may not matter as much now. Find the potential waste, and see what happens when you drop it.
Plus, a Bonus Experiment, Just for You
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or close to burnout, this experiment’s for you.
ACTION: Take a look at your to-do list, and ask yourself: “What’s the one thing you can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
In Gary Keller & Jay Papasan’s great book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” (affiliate link),
Focus on that first. Say no to other things.
So how about you? Which experiment are you willing to try for the next three months?
Connect with me on LinkedIn here, add a personalized note and tell me about the experiment you’re going to try so you can make work easier for your team and for yourself.
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