4 Questions to Help You Stop Wasting Time

Repeatedly asking yourself and your team these four questions might change the direction of your organization and stop wasting time.

Many people set aside time once a year to reflect, think big, and set their strategic direction. But what if annually isn’t often enough? What opportunities are we missing by “staying the course” for so long without looking up to see if we need to change direction?

What if?

What if we reflected on the core strategic planning questions on a much more frequent basis? What if we did it monthly, weekly, or even in each meeting? The benefit would be devising a much more responsive approach to our projects, one that would allow us to take advantage of opportunities, shortcuts, and windfalls as they came up.

This would involve applying the foundational agile principles from software development to regular work. If we know sprints work, why don’t we apply them to everything we do?

The reason we don’t have strategic planning conversations more frequently is that planning is the often last thing we want to do. It often feels burdensome. It’s often theoretical and not particularly applicable to whatever is going on today. Planning is usually dependent on external factors that are outside of our control. These are the challenges we need to overcome.

4 Directional Questions

How can you make planning a more routine part of your approach? You need to pick a timeframe and a recurring meeting. Maybe it’s your weekly staff meeting or project check-in. Then, ask yourself and your team these four simple questions:

  1. What is our mission imperative? Or, what’s our purpose?
  2. What’s our current approach?
  3. Where are we trying to go?
  4. What are the most logical next three steps we could take? (All of these must be 100 percent within your control.)

Asking these four essential questions more frequently will yield surprising results. We often think we’re accomplishing our purpose and on the right path but taking a few minutes to reflect might reveal that we’re not.

For this practice to be effective, we have to bring an open mind and a willingness to be wrong, to change direction, and to leave partially completed tasks undone (especially if they’re the wrong tasks to begin with). The result will be a less meandering, shorter, and more satisfying path to your next milestone.

Robin Camarote is a communications strategy consultant, meeting facilitator, and writer with Wheelhouse Group. She is intent on helping leaders get more done with fewer headaches by outlining clear, creative strategies and solutions that build momentum and buy-in at all organizational levels. She writes about how to increase your positive impact at work. She is the author of a book on organizational behavior entitled, Flock, Getting Leaders to Follow. She lives with her husband and three children in Falls Church, Virginia. You can read her posts here.

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