Communicate less

18th September 2012

Do you have all the time you need, to do your job?

If you’re anything like most people, probably not. In fact, a recent McKinsey study found that people spend only 39% of their week doing their core job. In other words, they spend three days every week doing other stuff – three days!

And, not surprisingly, much of this ‘other stuff’ relates to inefficient and/or pointless communications.

Sound familiar?

Imagine if you could free up these three days (though, let’s be honest, just one extra day would be life-changing).

So think of all the communications you give/get. For each one, ask yourself if you:

  • Remove it – a good test: remove any communication that, when you stop it, will do no harm whatsoever
  • Reduce it – e.g. change updates from weekly to fortnightly
  • Shorten it – e.g. make 60-minute meetings last 45; when you’ve created a document/presentation, try and reduce it by a third (I’ve found many people can achieve at least that)
  • Change it – e.g. if you have regular conference calls where only one person speaks, change to sending an email instead
  • Skip it – if you can’t add anything/don’t want to/it’s not a priority, suggest to the owner that you don’t attend
  • Ban it – e.g. stop people hitting ‘reply all’ (not everyone cares), ‘FYI’ (hardly anyone cares) or giving lengthy background info (nobody cares)

Remember, when you communicate, your aim isn’t to say something, it’s to cause something.

So, change/stop communications that cause nothing.

Action point

Look at this week’s diary. Which would be the best communication to change? You want the one that:

  1. will save you lots of time, and
  2. doesn’t cause you a problem when you change it.

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