How to get more Time

This week I had an interesting discussion with the team about Time.

The discussion was how do we get more time for Learning and Development when we are so busy just getting what needs to be done, done! I will admit that I understand it is easier for some in the team to make time for Learning and Development compared to others… but I challenged the team to think that Time is actually not the problem. Let me explain why…

We are all aware of the constraint triangle right?

Scope

A strain on one of these items is going to impact the others. Eg, more scope is likely to add more cost and more time. This is the nature of Project Management. Something has to give. Right?

Our Time is no different. There are only 1440 minutes in a day. Something has to give to fit everything in that we want to get done in those 1440 minutes.

My challenge to the team was that, you have to value (want or desire) something more than something else and you will find time. In our personal lives we do this everyday. If we value being fit and healthy, we will swap the morning lay ins in bed to get to the gym, the odd lunch with our work colleagues to go for a run or walk, or the occasional social event after work to go to that yoga class. In fact, we will start to look for opportunities to reduce the amount we sacrifice by inviting friends to the yoga class or going for that run/walk with the work colleague.

Another example may be watching the English Premier League because it is your favourite sport to watch, but because you live in Australia it is on TV at ridiculous o’clock. If you value watching your team play live then you will find a way to watch it live. You may pre-arrange with your Partner to ensure that nothing is planned for that night or the next day so that you can stay up late watching the game and sleep in the next day. When you value something enough, you will find a way to make it happen.

So how do we find time? Simply by knowing what it is that we value most out of our 1440 minutes everyday. If you find that you don’t have time for something, it is likely because you have not valued it high enough. Something has to give!

How could this help my team with not having enough time for Learning & Development? Or maybe how could this help you?

  1. First understand what things you value out of your job. Is Learning & Development in that list?
  2. Understand where you are spending your time now. Track where you are actually spending your time and just how much time you spend doing it. I have been using RescueTime for years, but a spreadsheet or piece of paper near you can work just as good. When you see that something is taking up a lot of your time and you have no value for it, you can start thinking about ways to change that. For example, at one point Outlook/Email was taking nearly 20 hours of my week. Today, I spend around 5 hours a week on Outlook/Email. Simple things like unsubscribing from newsletters, setting up rules to move Emails that I don’t need to see straight away etc. Just being conscious of where you spend time, you will be amazed at the things you are doing that prevent you from doing the things you want to be doing.
  3. Look for Opportunities to spend more time doing the things that you value, and less on the things you don’t. Get creative! Maybe think about finding a solution to that annoying problem that you have to deal with multiple times each week, could you even automate it; Maybe by deferring the walk up and asking them to raise their ticket properly… it just might not have been that urgent anyway; Maybe you can create that article that will allow people to find the solution for themselves. The more time you can spend doing this, the more time you will have for the things you value.
  4. From a career perspective, realise that some things transcend above your current role. Investing time into things like Learning & Development, means that you will have the skills or knowledge that might help you get that pay rise, or your next job. Investing time into things that you can list as Achievements in your Resume, such as automating that task to save the business hours each week can also help with your payrise or next job. Because these things could help your career, accept that maybe an investment in your own personal time is OK. For example, you might occasionally come into work early, work through lunch or stay back late… or even use your commute to work on these things. If getting that pay rise or next job is important to your personal or family goals then it is a small price to pay.

How do I find time for Learning & Development? Learning excites me, learning is very important to me and to who I am. If I am not learning in everything I do, then I am doing the wrong thing! I am constantly asking myself what can I do to find more time at work, to find more time at home so I can Learn. I ask how can I make learning a part of most things I do? I do find small pockets of time to read, watch a video, reflect etc. You don’t need to dedicate large chunks of time. An article might only take you 10 mins to read and reflect and take notes. Most training videos are split up into 10-15 minute chunks. Watch 1 or 2 on your commute. You just need to start. I have mentioned this before in a previous post, but “you give life to the things you give energy”.

How do you find time? Is Learning & Development a challenge for you and your team? How have you overcome it?

Until next time!

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Ask What instead of Why

Today, I read an interesting article from Harvard Business Review around Self Awareness.

As a leader, Self Awareness is considered to be a necessary skill that helps to make you more effective as a leader.

The article finds that there are broadly two types of Self Awareness. Internal Self Awareness, how we see ourselves and External Self Awareness, how other people see us.

Some key points for me about the article is that:

  • We need to find balance between both Internal and External Self Awareness
  • Continuously ask for feedback
  • Ask “What?” instead of “Why?” – Asking “What?” allows you to remain solution focused.

Robin, a customer service leader who was new to her job, needed to understand a piece of negative feedback she’d gotten from an employee. Instead of asking “Why did you say this about me?,” Robin inquired, “What are the steps I need to take in the future to do a better job?” This helped them move to solutions rather than focusing on the unproductive patterns of the past.

For more information, click through to the full article.

Until next time!

Source: What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)

Focus… in a world of distractions

Focus has really been… for lack of a better word… the focus lately.

It was one of the things my team felt went well in our last sprint. It has even been a topic of discussion with senior management recently.

So why is focus the focus? Why or how did we lose focus? Did we ever have focus to begin with? What changed to bring focus to attention? How do we keep our focus?

Focus is a fickle thing. We all have the things we enjoy doing, and the things we have to do. For some people, they can balance between these quite nicely. But sometimes, we set ourselves high expectations, or we have these high expectations set upon us and this affects our ability to focus.

For example, my team know the importance of the work we have on… and know that we need to get it done as soon as possible. The team want to be successful and deliver the tasks we have, however, they set high expectations on themselves and find that the end result is the opposite of being successful. They have over-allocated themselves in the sprint and therefore feel they have failed to deliver.

To make matters worse, there is an endless list of distractions, interruptions and continuing competing priorities that also don’t help us to remain focused. Challenges such as new and shiny technologies or ideas, interruptions from everywhere requiring action from us, or the fight to be at the top of your to do list, especially from those who scream the loudest!

So how do you remain focused with these in mind? I personally believe that focus requires a clear direction to be set. It requires the balls to say “No” to the things that don’t provide value to that overall direction. It requires the capability to give yourself or your team some space to work on one thing at a time and avoid the productivity lost from context switching. It is also about being realistic and accept that there will be distractions and account for them when planning yours or your team’s work. These are all the things I aim to be better at as a leader.

What has focus achieved for us? For me it has allowed me to be better at what I do and given me the energy and motivation to do more. Focus has also brought energy to my team. They are more engaged and working far better together to get through the work in front of them.

You give life to the things you give energy

This was the mantra of the instructor for a yoga class I attended recently. If we give energy to those distractions and interruptions, they will gain life and will continue to take our focus away. We must know where we want to give our energy, and ensure we only give life to those things that actually matter.

What challenges your focus? How do you keep focused?

Until next time.

Driving Digital Disruption

Today, I attended an event about driving digital disruption beyond 2020.

One of the key messages about today’s event was that the rate of change in technology is at the fastest it has ever been. Quite frankly, I couldn’t agree more. Even discussing this further with others attending the event, they shared concerns about just how fast vendors are developing new technologies that even channel partners selling these technologies are having a hard time keeping their staff trained and up-to-date to know enough to sell, design and implement these technologies.

There were some other interesting points about how IT teams need to change and become more of an enabler of the business. Teams need to focus efforts on transitioning, or maturing, through the following steps to really drive value to the business and build a true partnership with the business:

  1. Provide Stability
  2. Continuously Optimise
  3. Increase Agility and Business Responsive
  4. Drive Business Innovation and Experimentation

It also raised a question as to “What’s stopping us?” This is a valid question. One that I don’t believe is asked enough or thought through enough. What is limiting our speed to deliver business value? What are the constraints holding us back? True disruption and innovation will come from those that have taken the time to understand these questions and find ways to work around them.

It is interesting, because today, I feel that there is so much that me and my team could do to really drive disruption in our organisation and our biggest challenge is prioritising some time to being innovative when everything we work on is top priority, or worse… urgent!

Talking to others after the event, it really was apparent that this is a common thing. Finding that even someone working in a very similar role as me for a much larger organisation in a similar industry also has the same challenges I have around disruption and innovation in technology, and in processes in his organisation.

IT Leaders probably have some work to do in educating Business Leaders more about how technology can be better leveraged to improve key areas of the business, such as the Customer’s Experience, the Employee’s Experience, Operational Processes and the overall Business Model.

How you do you drive disruption and innovation in your team? What challenges do you face?

Until next time.