Easy is Hard

There are no shortcuts in life, but you can short-change yourself.

How?

By taking the ‘easy’ way out.

What I think smart busy people have realised is that it is as easy to work hard on the right things as it is hard when you to try to take things easy.

I confess, for me being idle is an horror too great.

Iwonder however whether a lot of our productivity is tied up in the misguided notion that being busy and productive is the hardest way to live your life.

Spending most of your woken day at a job where you produce nothing is just painful. I’ve been there. Anybody who believes that is a good way through life has already started making life difficult.

Of course I am not promoting being a slave to your work or just pulling long hours and never seeing your family. Work life balance is hugely important (and this includes ‘time out’)

My focus is on the 40- 50 hours you spend at work.

Make them count.

Make the hours of your employees count too.

I would rather send people home early because they did what was needed doing than keep them here in the hope they’ll ‘fill in time’.

I concede it is a difficult balance, but leaders should not be ashamed of expecting more of themselves and their employees in being more productive.

The thing is – and here is the kicker – I believe this often doesn’t happen as the managers concerned aren’t doing it themselves and therefor are not prepared to ask their reports (note I changed from leaders to managers, because I have just demoted them all!)

And this doesn’t just apply to being productive.

So the next time you see a manger not asking for more, see what they are not doing themselves first.

Then decide- am I a leader or a manager!!

2 Replies to “Easy is Hard”

  1. Dear Richard,

    Allowing employees early is a great sign of successful and effective manager or leader. Truth be hold, I have done it,believe it and do it. It is really productive and increases relationship and reputation many fold. I also believe that what is easy to see is easy to miss. So, there is huge gap between seeing and doing.By doing even the most difficult task becomes easier and by not doing or by procrastinating even a easier task becomes tougher or difficult.Work life balance is possible when we are responsible towards our duty, responsibility first. If we postpone our duties, we pile up stresses and can not enjoy the freedom of time. You are right that leadership journey starts from good managership. One must learn to manage before lead.Without knowing the minute details about task, it may be difficult to lead and will be called leadership failure.

  2. Great post Richard. I love the connection here to innovation and to culture and to the current functional structure of almost every business I’m working with.

    Here is an example from Seth Godin’s Big Moo book. I think it’s relevant here.

    Here we go: On our way to a brainstorming meeting a colleague turned to me and said,”I wish I had prepared for this – I’ve been so busy I didn’t do a thing for the meeting.”
    Busy doing what?
    Just for fun, we made a diary of her work-week. She spends about 44 hours at work, with 4 hours spent for lunch and stuff. So figure 2,400 minutes per week.
    In a typical week, she spends 2,000 minutes playing defense, filling out forms, answering urgent requests, returning calls, and putting out fires. This is what most people refer to as “work.”
    She spends 300 minutes in meetings, listening to other people talk about what they’re going to do or have recently done. She spends 45 minutes actually doing the creative work on the projects she’s currently involved in…the ones that make money for the company.
    And she spends exactly 15 minutes a week on inventing the next breakthrough.
    This is scary stuff because if you do the math of what her organization gets paid for, it’s precisely the opposite of the way my colleague spends her time. Ironically when she goes on holiday, those 2,000 minutes of “urgent” emergencies just sit there and nothing horrible happens!

    What can I say? He’s right…again!

    Here then is a great challenge for any leader.

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