Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis discovered in 1847. that the maternal mortality after childbirth could be reduced tenfold if physicians disinfected their hands between treating 2 patients.
Despite empirical evidence, and today we would say common sense, his colleagues rejected his theory. Some of them even with incredible arguments – the hands of a real gentleman cannot transmit diseases…
Semmelweis eventually suffered a nervous breakdown and died forcibly imprisoned in a mental institution. Based on his sad story emerged a Semmelweis reflex metaphor, which says that people tend to reject new knowledge and/or evidence if it conflicts with their beliefs, norms, and paradigms.
Working from home is one example of the Semmelweis reflex – despite the ample evidence that there are more pros than cons, it was only the pandemic that forced us to rationally view its benefits.
Promosapiens has been operating as a remote working agency for almost 5 years, and at the very beginning, we felt like Ignaz Semmelweis. The most common comments were that we didn’t look professional and are giving the impression that we didn’t even have money for the office; none of the above was true.
I described our experience, advantages and disadvantages of working from home in “Remote working firsthand.”
Today, companies even do PR announcements praising their progressiveness and agility for enabling employees to work from home.
Despite the criticism we went through at the beginning, I’m glad the story has a happy ending after all. But working from home has not solved the problem that still affects the majority of companies – time optimization…
THE MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE IN THE WORLD
Get the best, most loyal employee in the world, and despite his best will and commitment, there’s no way he can work for 25 hours a day unless you have found a way for him to travel through time.
Time is the only resource we can’t bring back…
For this reason, time is also the most important resource for every company.
Even if you’ve switched to remote working, there’s still a great chance that you’re wasting precious working hours.
In the ideal scenario, each worker will work 160 working hours per month (lunch break included). These scenarios are very rare, perhaps never even seen. Some research shows that if a worker is efficient for 120 hours, that’s a very good, “acceptable time.” Therefore he will get a salary for 160 working hours but work for 120.
WHERE’S THE PROBLEM?
As I shared our experience of testing work from home, and how we managed to raise productivity, employee satisfaction, and a better balance of the private and business life, I hope you’ll find these analyses and experiments on time management that we conducted useful as well. This is not a complete list of all the challenges, but the ones that are time-related, and which are the most common problems we can see in business.
01) a meeting that could have been a call? Or neither?
Even if you have video calls instead of a meeting, how well do you prepare for that meeting/call? Very often the topic of a meeting is elaborated only at the invitation, and the only thing we have before the meeting is the name in the calendar like “Planning the X campaign.”
This is one of the biggest time thieves because the meeting should have a very clearly defined plan. If your argument is “but I use these meetings for brainstorming,” remember that group brainstorming is the same situation as when several people try to solve a single Rubik’s cube together. A better way of brainstorming is when everyone brainstorms for themselves, writes down ideas into a shared document, then everyone takes a look at the document, and then just chooses which idea is going to be realized at the meeting.
Also, you need to ask yourself if all the people involved in the meeting really should have been at it? Maybe someone has an impact of only 1% on the project, but you found it easier to invite them to the meeting. Before you do that, try to calculate how much is the cost of a working hour for each person who will spend an hour or two in a meeting; you’ll get a very clear picture of how expensive each meeting actually is. It may be 1 hour for you, but if you have 5 people in a meeting, that’s 5 working hours spent.
I’ll be honest, oftentimes I avoid meetings where the invitation is: “Can we meet to talk a little?”
What’s the topic we are going to talk about? What is expected of me?
Driving to the meeting place, the meeting, driving home – all of these are precious hours that could have been saved if in one call the following was said: “We are working on a campaign, and we need help regarding XY, we have a budget of approx. X amount of money and we’d like to hear what you consider to be the best strategy.” Maybe I could’ve immediately said in a phone call that the plan was not feasible and save time for both myself and the interlocutor.
02) how do you plan your day?
Very often the to-do list of most employees looks like this:
- Tasks that I have to solve
- Tasks that someone else has to solve, and I need information
This is one of the most common mistakes when it comes to productivity. Yes, it’s easiest to solve all of your tasks first, and then delegate to others when your to-do list is empty, but that’s a completely wrong way to do work.
The first thing you need to do in the morning when your workday starts is to send all the requests to the people who are obliged to provide you with certain information without which you can’t complete your task.
Why does that matter?
If you submit all requests in the morning, there’s a chance that you’ll receive a response the same day.
If you first decide to solve your tasks in the morning and then send all the requests to other colleagues or clients, that will probably only happen in the afternoon, and at best you’ll get a response only the next day.
And this is where an additional problem emerges – what if the answer, which is already a whole day late, is not the one you were looking for? The story starts all over again…
03) messenger or mail?
I’ve never been a fan of typing messages, but I’m aware that it’s my subjective impression.
Also, I’m aware that a lot of business people now like to communicate via messages because they use that communication in their private lives. Messengers are very intuitive, messages are sent instantly, you can immediately see if a person has received and read the message; these are all advantages of messengers.
But even if we remove my subjective impression, one important fact remains – typing speed.
Yes, I know that there are desktop apps of different messengers, those I use the most, but a large number of people primarily use smartphones as a means of communication.
Teenagers in their two-finger typing skill have almost reached the average typing speed on a keyboard (about 40 words per minute), but most people in business are not teenagers. For example, people in their 40s type on a mobile device about 29 words per minute.
So, on mobile devices, even now when we’re all used to it, we’re about 25% slower than on a keyboard. Additionally, on a keyboard we have the ability to significantly increase the typing speed with any typing software available today.
For the purposes of this blog, I just tested my typing speed on a keyboard and it is 68 words per minute. I believe I can do even better when I don’t know my speed is being measured.
An additional problem with the messenger is the screen size and visibility of the messages.
So, with a minimum of 25% more time that you’ll spend typing, there’s also a higher probability of human error, in other words, that the essential information gets lost in a forest of separate messages, especially through multiple days of communication.
Finally, let’s not forget how much information we can exchange in, for example, 2 minutes via a messenger or by phone. A conversation that would last about 20 seconds in a phone call, on messages can look like this:
00:35 Do you have that document maybe, the one that client sent yesterday?
00:45 Which one? The one with the budgets?
00:50 Yes, that one…
01:00 I have it, it’s on the drive. Want me to send it to you?
01:10 Yes, thnx…
I hope these examples will help you to better optimize your time and don’t forget the words of William Penn:
Time is what we want the most and use the worst…
Behavioral marketing specialist, Google Growth Engine Ambassador (Adriatics) and founder of Promosapiens. Dalibor is a regular speaker at the international conferences: Shopper Brain (Netherlands), Dubai Lynx (UAE), Euroshop (Germany), Family Thinking Marketing Forum (Poland), Branding Conference (BiH), MEKST (Serbia), HOW Festival (Croatia), just to name a few… His lectures with the practical examples of behavioral marketing are regularly the highest rated among the audience.