Do it the same way, at the same time, every time.
It’s that simple.
It’s one of two answers for how to speed up most tasks.
The other is not to do it at all.
Before you go forward, do you really need to do this thing?
Because maybe you just think you do. Because it’s what you always did, or they’re expecting it, or the previous person did it. Just asking—are you sure there’s a value to this thing you do that takes longer than you want it to? What happens if you don’t do it?
Here’s what you do:
First, understand the hard.
It’s hard because you can’t see what’s between you and doing it. You can’t see how you’re repeating the same non-productive actions, providing the same unclear leadership, giving in to the same excuses (theirs and yours).
It’s a foggy mess and you’re taking yourself in circles inside it.
That said, if you’re ready to decide: to take on this one thing that you noticed again is a total time-suck, you can as they say, just do it.
By “just” I mean: do it the same way, at the same time, every time.
First, you’ll have to write up the procedure. Yes, write it up. So everyone involved can see it. And if you do this thing on your own, you still need to write it up.
The you of three days from now, who will not
- remember to
- or want to
- or feel like it’s so important to
follow this exact procedure, will need help.
Out of habit, or laziness, or lack of clarity as to the shortest distance between these two points, out of getting distracted—again!—doesn’t matter why (we’re not here to judge) the you, who hasn’t been able to get it together until now, will need help.
So, help yourself then by setting it up now.
Just four steps.
- Write the procedure.
- Make it public.
- Get feedback from everyone involved.
- Confirm that this is the plan. Present the revised procedure if you made changes. Changes or not, announce that this is it.
We will do exactly the same thing, at the same time, every time.
It will take practice. Regardless of how simple a thing seems (hand this on by Tuesday at 10am), and regardless of good intentions (I’m late because I wanted to get it 100% checked-over before handing it in), it will take practice. If only because we are not machines and we can’t literally program ourselves. The decision, the written procedure, the agreement will not be enough.
There is always the possibility that someone will go off the track, or need a favor, or turn out not to have understood the procedure when he really thought he did. If you know this, you won’t waste time and energy getting frustrated and bogged down by it. Be ready to say no, or accept the consequences of saying yes to the same-old one more time.
It won’t be much fun. Already, this will feel like more time thrown at this thing. And, now you have to repeat yourself to those not complying. There is no pill to change things. It takes doing it. Over and over. Practice. [It could be fun, by the way. But probably, it won't be.]
If you stick to it for a solid chunk of time, you will get what you wanted.
It will truly be the same-old same old. Only this time a LOT less of it. Just enough to the job done. routinely. quietly. on time.
And, then, after you’ve done it like that for a while, and everyone’s gotten used to the idea of the routine, and has stuck to it, there will be empty space around it. At minimum, the energy-suck of frustration will be gone. You’ll be carrying things out as planned, and not at the mercy of what was turning this simple thing, (like everyone turning in their expenses, so that checks can be processed quickly), into a frustrating mess.
You’ll just be doing it.
At that point, reconsider everything:
- Is there truly a value to doing this thing?
- Can I delegate my part of it?
- Is there a way to re-organize it or automate part of it and make it even faster, or more reliable?
- Wonder what else you can simplify and de-frustrate?