The 24 hour rule – a framework for greater efficiency
In a time stretched world I was intrigued by new book I reviewed called The 24 Hour Rule and other secrets for smarter organisations. It is by Adrienne Bellehumeur, a consultant who has developed a system for dealing with documentation.
Having read the word "documentation" I can imagine that it could induce a yawn and prompt you to move on. However, I urge you to stick with it. Whenever you speak to teachers or medics they almost always tell you that their job would be so much better if it wasn't for the "documentation". This varies from bureaucratic box ticking to keeping records of everything and it varies from job to job. Unfortunately, we all have more of it to do.
Fundamental to Bellehumeur's advice is the point she makes in the title - get that documentation done straight away – at least within 24 hours. If it goes beyond 24 hours it will pile up with other stuff you have to do and it will create stress. It's similar to another efficiency golden rule – "touch it once". The argument goes that if you put something aside instead of dealing with it immediately it creates more effort.
Bellehumeur calls her administration system "dynamic documentation". There are six steps in this process:
1. First you need efficient ways of capturing the information.
2. Then you need to structure it because this will make it so much easier to deal with.
3. Presenting the information will be useful to you and others who might look at it which means making it clear, short and actionable.
4. Communicating is the fourth step. This is important to the people who need to see the information and, when relevant, to keep them off your back.
5. The fifth step deals with storing the information.
6. The final stage is leading and innovating which deals with bringing the previous five steps together and pushing them further. In particular using document and techniques to stop those runaround conversations in which nothing moves forward. This is vital because so many ideas that get documented do not lead to action.
There is only so much time. It is limited for all of us. With just a few hours in every day and we need to use each one of them to best effect in order to be productive. This means that we need to hone skills such as the 24 hour rule. It's worth thinking about.