What is it that calm, cool, and collected managers do that their harried, run-off-their-feet colleagues haven’t figured out yet?

Peter Drucker, management guru, said, “Action without planning is the reason for every failure.”  But even when you plan your actions in advance (starting your day getting clear on what you want to achieve, checking your schedule, making lists of things to do) you can still end up running around like a chicken with its head cut off if you don’t ask yourself critical questions about how to take action.

Planning + Action + The Secret Ingredient

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself before taking action is, “How could I get this done with a high quality outcome, but with the least amount of effort?”  Some would call that laziness.  Others (those more laid back, got-it-all-under-control types) would call it plain old smart thinking.

Here are 5 more questions to help you get really clear on how harnessing “laziness” on your part might just result in the best possible outcome for everyone.

Who can I get to do this for me?

So many managers get hung up on not wanting to give their team “menial” tasks because they’re worried it will cause disengagement.

If you’re regularly doing work that people who get paid less than you can do, then you’re not only wasting your precious time, you’re also costing your organisation money.  Harness a bit of laziness and delegate as much as you can, so that you can spend time on the work that only you can do.

Is this really what I’m being paid to do?

If you’ve ever led a team, you’ll have cringed when you hear one of your staff say, “that’s not my job.”

But that’s exactly what I want you to ask yourself before you take action.

Are you doing something because you think it needs doing, but it actually falls outside of your responsibilities?  Put your superhero cape aside for a second and consider if it’s impacting the work that your organisation actually hired you to do.  It’s not heroic if it’s stopping you from achieving what you were hired to achieve.

Does it need to be done well, or does it just need to be done?

The old adage, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” costs managers many an hour doing low priority tasks really well.

If it’s not really all that important, just do it until it’s good enough, then move on to the next thing.

Can I do it later?

Your inner procrastinator is already asking this question, isn’t it?  And it’s a question worth asking.

You have a lot to do.  Don’t just pick up the first thing and work on it.  Prioritise your tasks based on what the most important and urgent items are, and do them first.

Let everything else wait.

Would anyone notice if I let this slide?

What would happen if you stopped doing something altogether?  Who would notice, and how long would it take?

If the impact would be miniscule, unlikely, and easy fixed later, consider ditching it if it’s taking up a lot of your time.

Bonus tip

So you’ve planned, asked the laziness questions, and there’s still stuff you need to do.

These actions you now need to take – are they one-offs?  If you’re going to do anything more than twice, be lazy and make a template or write a process.

Reinventing the wheel takes way too much effort.