Speed kills. And no, I’m not talking about driving as fast as you can to your fiery doom. Although that’s possibly true as well. I’m talking about how important speed is in your life to help you kill it.
The important of speed cannot be overstated. If you look at almost any athletic endeavour, speed is a large determining factor in who wins and loses. Take the obvious ones such as any running event away, and you still have many sports where speed is of the utmost importance. I’m not going to list them all here, just use your imagination (hint: all of them). Team sports may seem more nuanced, but even there speed is at the top of the list for victory. Have a team that is way faster than you? Play defence to slow them down. Want to win the game? Score more points than the other guys. Score quicker.
Here’s an interesting interview Inc did on Paul Graham, the stud behind YCombinator. What’s the most important thing he values in startups? Speed. You go too slow and you starve, run out of money, and call it a day. Why do you think companies like Uber succeed despite the odds of success? They move faster than the big, slow ass taxi companies. Almost any David and Goliath battle you can think of was won on speed. At the very least, speed was a contributing factor.
As a consumer, who are you going to go get your pizza from, the mom and pop shop that can get you your grub in 30 minutes flat or the Pizza Hut across town that’ll take at least 75 minutes? If Facebook took 25 seconds to load, think you’d stick around for it? Probably not. I mean, I’m not waiting around 25 seconds just to look at my friends’ baby pictures and neither should you.
One of the best books I read during my MBA was for Operations class called “The Goal”. I almost failed that class, by the way. I probably did fail, but since it’s MBA they gave me a pity pass. Huge. Anyway, The Goal. This is Jeff Bezos favourite book on Operations Management. I think every business person should read it. It’s all about operational efficiency. You want to move efficiently so that you can execute quicker. More throughput. More output. One of the key takeaways I got from that book is finding the bottlenecks in your system. This is so important because you are only as efficient as your weakest link. You’re only as fast. Eliminate the bottleneck and your operational efficiency skyrockets. Thus, it’s a continual game of eliminating bottlenecks. Bam, max speed, max dolla dolla bills yall.
So the question becomes how do you move and act faster? Here are 5 unconventional tactics to do just that.
That’s right, we all have 24 hours in the day but how are you utilizing those hours? Are you juggling your family life with your social life and your 32 volunteer obligations and 13 hobbies while doing those night courses at the local community college? Dude, take it easy already. There’s a ramp up and ramp down period to every task you do, so if you have a lot of tasks there are all these tiny ramp up and ramp down periods that quickly suck up a lot of time. No wonder you can’t get your homework done on time at that poetry night class you’re taking.
Decide less. What do you mean, you ask? I mean just that. Steve Jobs wore the same damn turtle neck every day. Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoody. They don’t decide on what they should wear. It’s already been decided for them. There, one less decision. Aside from the time saved from picking out a wardrobe for the day, the less decisions you have to make in the day means the faster you can get through them. Think of it like a pile of tps reports you have to go through on your desk. The smaller the pile, the faster you can get them done.
Don’t agonize over the small stuff. No, nobody at work gives a shit that your dress shirt is artichoke green but your socks are granny smith apple. Just decide already. Should you have Greek or Chinese for lunch? Pick the one closest to you. Or not, but who cares. That decision should be near instantaneous. If you’re at a restaurant and the menu has 78 items on it. DON’T READ THE WHOLE DAMN MENU. Pick a few pages that look good, like burgers, because you love burgers, and choose from there. Trust me, your lunch companions will thank you.
Optimize your Environment
This is all about having the perfect setup to help you decide faster, less, and more efficiently. Should you go for that morning jog today? Well that’s a hard decision to make if you jog on a track that is at your gym which is the other way from work. But that decision becomes infinitely easier if you have amazing trails in your backyard and your running clothes and shoes are the first things you see when you wake up. Then this no longer becomes a decision, but rather a habit. You put on your clothes, shoes, open the back door, and start jogging. The decision is gone.
It’s All About Your Energy
Time management is over-rated. Energy management is completely under-rated. Read “The Power of Full Engagement” by Tony Schwartz. This one is a must read, in my opinion. It has changed the way I think about managing time and energy. How effective are you going to be when you’re exhausted all of the time? Man, I wish I knew this in university because if I knew then what I know now I’d certainly stop powering through all of those late nights staring blankly at those textbooks. A good nights rest and a focused 1 hour is infinitely better than an all nighter to get those extra 8 hours of study time. Thankfully, I did learn my mistakes and apply this methodology daily. It’s more of a mantra now. If you’re tired, take a break and stop powering through shit.
Bonus: I know I said I’d give you 5 unconventional tactics to improve speed, but since you’ve made it this far I love you and will give you one more – the most unconventional one of them all.
What. The. F ALL CAPS. Yep, slow down. Go for a hike. Stop and smell the flowers. Release your inner Picasso and paint for a while. Take up skateboarding. Make love to your wife. Go slow. Remember what I said about energy management? Well this is a key component of that. Try new things and do the things you love. Come back recharged and ready to hit it. Sprinters don’t practice sprinting for 16 hours a day. No, they sprint, then chilllll. Sprint, then chilllll. Say it with me: “Sprint, then chillllll.”
The downside of turning into a speed demon is that you’ll get more work. If you’re manager needs something done quickly, who do you think he’s going to go to, you or Steve the Sloth? Remember, fast gets fed, and slow gets starved. Adjust accordingly and use these powers wisely. And always remember, speed kills my friend *said in my best Bruce Lee voice*.