Speeding up is not always the best way to go faster.
Today’s work is often more complex and nuanced than it appears at first glance. That can make it seem like we have a clear goal, an effective strategy, and a sound plan of execution when the reality is that we don’t.
If you take a closer look, you may see that the goal is not super clear. You might not have the best strategy selected (especially if the goal wasn’t clear!). And you therefore probably don’t have as thoroughly detailed a plan for execution as you might have thought.
So, getting those thoughts together is probably more effective than anything else you can do right now to get faster results.
Because faster results are not about speed. Faster results come from strategic focus.
Speed through process and choice
To be strategic in your approach, you need to be thoughtful about process and choice.
The process you use to tackle your project matters a lot. Because a solid process is what keeps everything together.
It’s how you ensure that your approach is methodical. It’s the backdrop against which unexpected developments are framed so that they don’t throw you off course.
And process is the way you can take lessons from all your other projects and carry them forward to your current work.
Choice is essential to deliberate action aimed at specific results.
If you move too hastily, without making careful choices, you end up limiting options down the line.
Developing your process will help you to abstract your thinking a bit. And this will help you to see your choices more clearly. Maybe some that you didn’t even know you had.
Those choices are your opportunities to be strategic—in what you elect to do or not do, in where you place your resources, and in how you approach communications.
And these choices can make all the difference.
Speed through knowledge
As Ben Franklin once said, “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
This is true in life, and it’s true for your project.
By taking the time to slow down and study the details more carefully, you will gain the knowledge required to hone your process and to make better choices.
Gaining this type of mastery over your project is immensely powerful.
Because when you know the thing inside and out, you can operate with more confidence. You can be more decisive. You can make connections that lead to strategic insights that lead to real benefits.
You can avoid problems. You can find more creative solutions. You can convince, cajole, and influence stakeholders more easily.
You can start to save some real time. Which means you can move faster. Much faster.
Speed through pacing
Sometimes a break is what you need to gain speed.
Grinding it out hour after hour, day after day can limit your speed more than you might think.
Over-focusing on a problem is one of the best ways to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Working through lunch or into the wee hours of the night is often not going to lead to your best results.
Talking in circles in endless meetings is a uniquely painful way to squander time and energy.
Instead, it’s important to take breaks during the day. To get rest at night. And to eat well too.
Your best work is done in intervals. You need to pace yourself and make sure that you can sustain a high level of energy over the long haul, not exhaust yourself and degrade the quality of your work.
When you pace yourself well, you are able to attack your project intensely for a period of time and then back off for a bit. This allows you to dig deep but then also step back and gain perspective.
And time away is often when insights suddenly appear (ever get a great idea in the shower?).
Speed up by slowing down
Sometimes the best way to speed up is to slow down.
When you slow down to make sure you are following a good process, you are giving yourself a chance to speed up by establishing a reliable framework that can be flexible in the event of uncertainty.
When you slow down to examine things more carefully, you can more easily see the choices you have available. Which can help you make better strategic moves.
When you slow down to gain knowledge, you can avoid problems and find more creative solutions. Both of which lead to better and faster results.
When you slow down periodically in order to pace yourself, you gain a huge advantage. You avoid burnout and fatigue, and you gain perspective. You move forward with greater confidence and speed.
Speed is not always about moving fast. Many times it’s about moving smartly.