"It takes less time to do a thing right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong." - Henry Longfellow

"If you don't have time to do it right, what makes you think you will have time to do it over?" ~Seth Godin

Our incredibly busy schedules often create a lot of quick and dirty reactions that can lead to absolute gridlock in an operation if left unchecked. I’m talking about the decisions you make when you are stressed and don’t have the time to look into it further….these are often highlighted by the “justs”:

  • “Just make the customer happy”
  • “Just order the same amount as last month”
  • “Just fix it”

Without thought, our decisions are eventually thoughtless. Two things happen when we compromise our decisions by taking the easy (and quick) way out: We either have to go back later and put in even more work than we would have if we had taken the time upfront. Or the effects of the “easy” decision build up until they have to be dealt with in a time and cost intensive way. In either case there is the clutter of unfinished business left in the wake of the decision, and eventually those cluttered decisions will need to be followed up on. To put it succinctly:

The easy way is NOT EASY

Paying the long term price for short term gain is always a recipe for eventual disaster. Spend the time and energy in the moment and you will reap more time in the future (or at least not pay the price later). As you begin to not take the easy way out, you’ll find that after a week, two weeks, or a month you have more time on your plate and are making more progress than before. In effect you are not just busy, but effective (so many managers are busy because of their ineffective practices, like this one). Sure Cameron, but how do you do that:

Take the two seconds – The basic thought is that just a little thought can lead to MUCH better decision making. Would you trade 60 seconds now, for 10 minutes at the end of your day? Most of the time it doesn’t take a lot to make a carefully informed and thought out decision, and for that 10% of decisions that do need more time….

Ask them to come back – Many decisions can wait 30 minutes, an hour, a day. What does everyone do when you are at lunch? They wait. You might be crazy busy right now, but that may clear up in the next 10 minutes. Ask them to come back. Better to delay the decision a little instead of making a bad one.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more info – And to exacerbate the issue, sometimes the “easy way” is to make the decision without all of the necessary information. Make sure you have all of the information by asking for it. Again, it often isn’t as difficult as you (or they) think. It may be back at their desk or they may just need to make one phone call. Most of the time it is quick.

Trust your gut – Face it, you know when you are making the quick and dirty decision. When you hear yourself saying the words that will lead to that decision being put into action, STOP and think a little. Listen to that voice in your head, it may be your final safety net from creating more work later.

The time crunch of the modern day manager is as bad as it has ever been. Don’t be your own worst enemy and make decisions that just cause more work down the line. Our role is to reduce clutter in our workplace, not create more of it.