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Leaders Letter 10 – Smarter Not Harder

Smarter Not Harder‍

10/08/2020

Dear Leaders,
I trust you had a good weekend and look forward to making incremental improvements this week.

Working smarter not harder is something you have likely heard. Working smarter has always been something I have been an advocate of, however until a few years ago I wasn’t sure what it truly meant.A personal story: I would go into the office earlier than almost everyone, I would have back to back meetings and book time in for deep work.

I would then work many evenings and wonder why I would be shattered and feel like I didn’t deliver my best. What I realised over time was; I was working hard but not as smartly as I could have been. I started to review the schedules I had, the times I was working and the slots where I was productive or not.

I would review my calendar weekly and then categorise the time into themes and work out which meetings could be reduced, could be removed, or could be delegated.

There were meetings that were unproductive and I sort out to address these. Yes, this can sound like extra work but the upfront effort to save your time and sanity is worth its weight in gold. I would make more time for when I knew I was more productive, I would schedule times in with the teams that suited them better and would save some energy as I worked for an American business, mid to late afternoons meant you were due in important management meetings and were supposed to be designed for decision making – these meetings have a higher cognitive load and can be taxing.  

The hybrid office is going to suit many people, there were times where I would work from home in the mornings and dial into “lite’ meetings and then come in for team based meetings or deeper more immersive meetings that worked better in person.

I would book in mentor sessions and catch up coffees where I knew I could recharge and reenergise before lunch. I know personally I get an energy boost from mentoring and could rely on them to act as a refresher.Working harder than everyone is often something you will hear an athlete say in interviews, or I would out work everyone, yes it can work, however, most athletes will tell you coming towards retirement they came close to burn out. Sir Chris Hoy’s explains high performance and the shift in his career really well on this Podcast.

In more recent years, when athletes met sports psychologists, the psychologist would highlight they were running their body and their mind into the ground.

They needed to be smarter with their efforts. The business world is ruthless, time is precious but keeping your sanity in check and knowing how you work and when you work best is incredibly important. This is just one of the many reasons why I built out Focus.

There are going to be times especially when working remotely that feel impossible, or you need to be across every project, however, taking a step back or planning a 30 minute slot to plan, review and optimise is going to save you hours per week.

This is part of the growth mindset that I highly recommend you become a follower of. Matthew Syed has many books that explains the growth mindset. His book is part of my most recommended business book post I wrote recently.  In lockdown, on average, a recent study has found our workdays are 48.5 minutes longer than they were previously. This isn’t harder or smarter, it’s just longer!

This week focus on: Stepping up as a leader, lead by example, help those around you to use their time more wisely, enable colleagues or your team to work smarter. Something you can work through is surveying the company around their meeting habits and seeing if they plan and how they review their week.

Thanks and have a great week.
Danny

PS. Here is a quick Matthew Syed Video explaining Growth vs Fixed Mindset

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