Difference between “lots of work” and “extra work”

Most of us have more to do than we can manage. Everyone is “overworked”. While I do not doubt this, there is another way of looking at it. The idea is to differentiate whether you genuinely have more work than you have time or you are not able to finish work because the PROCESS you are using to get your work done is slowing you down. Read on to find out how to detect this and how to solve the problem. (Reading time 7 min)

Some simple but important concepts

When we say “I have lot of work”, we assume one thing. We assume that whatever the “work” is will require x amount of time. We don’t really nail down that required time in hours and minutes. It is more of a gut feeling. But this fuzzy estimation of how much time you will require to get a particular thing done itself may be wrong.

So let us understand what WORK means. In simple terms it means some achieving some predefined outcome. Here are some examples: Create a presentation, inform dealers about pricing, analyze past sales data and use it to forecast the sales for next quarter, monitor the proficiency of staff, conduct interviews and short-list candidates, execute a project within the time and resource constraints, and so on… You get the idea.

The PROCESS means the actual steps you perform to get the WORK done. Most of these steps are not defined at a very detailed level. But most of us know them – somehow.

But EXACTLY HOW? Here are various ways of discovering the exact steps: trial and error (the most popular method!), taught to you by colleagues / seniors, learnt from manuals or standard operating procedures, internet search, books, and so on.

Even then, the EXACT steps are pretty much undocumented. So, when we decide (or feel) that I will take 1 hour to get this WORK done, we are actually estimating that time based upon our past experience of executing a similar PROCESS.

What if the process itself is unimaginably inefficient?

In case of business processes, there is a whole lot of people, departments, consultants, experts, agencies who will go over a process minutely and optimize it. There are certifications, diplomas, post graduate courses, specialized workshops for how to optimize business processes as well as shop-floor processes. A very large and important ecosystem and industry.

Every company of any size or stature is doing something – either formally or informally – to improve their processes so that they can predictable and accurate outcomes with minimal time and resource investment.

Unfortunately, there is ONE set of processes which have never been looked from an optimization perspective. And that area is – how people use Microsoft Office!

So let me tell you the reality:

Irrespective of who you are and what you do, most processes you follow to get WORK done using Office are absolutely inefficient. You cannot even imagine how inefficient!

How much inefficiency exists?

You need proof? Just look at these Efficiency Tests I have created. Also look at real case study of how much inefficiency can be quantified in a real-life scenario: Case Study – BFSI: Unimaginable Efficiency Gains using Microsoft Office. This is a banking example, but it applies to all industries, fields and countries).

In general, if you use the most optimal method, you can reduce the process execution effort by anywhere by a factor of 50 to 3000%.

More WORK or more time wasted in inefficient PROCESS?

Now let us categorize the “lots of work” situation:

Scenario 1:

You are having more work than you have time because you are WASTING the time you have by being absolutely INEFFICIENT at the way you are executing that work.

Scenario 2:

You are having genuinely more work than time permits because you are executing all the actual processes in the most optimal manner.

Check it out and you will know that in most cases Scenario 1 applies.

Good news or Bad news?

Of course it is a VERY GOOD NEWS. Because now you know that if you improve your process of execution – at least in the context of Microsoft Office usage – you can gain more time which is the best reward you can get.

Once you have more time, you know how to use to your advantage.

How to improve the work PROCESSES using Office?

This entire blog is dedicated to this objective. Read it and you will start realizing that it is much simpler than you think.

If you have any queries or you have a different opinion, feel free to post comments here.

How to detect your inefficiency?

I do provide this service. But everyone in the world is not going to get face time with me. As far as I know, there are no other persons or companies offering this type of Office Process Optimization service. So the fastest way is for you to contact me. I will look at your work pattern and optimize it. The optimal method then becomes a Standard Operating Procedure and helps many more people.

Of course, I cannot do this at individual level. I work with companies on a larger scale.

So how do you do this individually? Here are some useful and practical solutions which you can implement YOURSELF – no external guidance required.

Read these articles and start your journey towards Unimaginable Efficiency!

Inefficiency Self-Audit
Repetition = Inefficiency
Inefficiency test: Hands vs. Brain
Adding formulas OUTSIDE Pivot Tables = Inefficiency
When NOT to record macros in Excel
Confusion: Which method of communication to use when?
Basic vs. Advanced – the psychological deterrent to efficient Office usage!


Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?