Some Thoughts On: When Sooner Is Better

It’s well known in the marketing field that if you open up enrolments for your new course/program for a week – you’ll get 80% of your enrolments in the final 4hrs before the window closes.

We humans usually need a deadline to force us to make a decision. The urgency clears out the fence-sitters – because waiting any longer is a forced ‘No’… and no one likes to be forced to do anything! A similar story plays out inside of our businesses too. Look at your regular reporting cycles – whether it’s project reports, business planning, or meeting submissions – 80% of the volume will come in with just moments to spare.

Yet, when we roll out new changes we worry about giving people ‘enough time to transition’. In contrast to this, the most successful change rollouts I’ve seen have leaned heavily towards “just rip off the bandaid”. The best example of this I’ve been involved in what a restructure that, in just a few months, worked through from initial design to go-live. (And this was in a Government Department!)

Your staff are more adaptable than you’re giving them credit for.

BUT, and there’s a huge BUT here – you can and should be aggressive in timelines, but not without empathy. They must not be surprised, and they must have the tools needed to adapt.

So this week I have a tactic for you:

Weaponise the ‘Eisenhower matrix’ to get people to prioritise YOUR work.

The Eisenhower matrix is one of the most popular tools used by professionals to prioritise their time. It’s a simple 4 quadrant matrix – evaluating tasks on the basis of urgency and importance.

The Eisenhower Matrix: Time and Task Management Made Simple - Luxafor

People turn to it when they feel they’re not being proactive enough – which of course means they’re spending their time on a) the urgent stuff first, then b) busywork second.

So when you need something done:

  1. Make it feel urgent. Use noisy, ultra-tight deadlines. (Note: Best practice here means giving them a heads up that the work is coming well before you hit them with the short deadline.)
  2. Make it feel important. Use the word ‘because’ to reinforce the urgency created in point 1.

I often hear of new initiatives running surveys that give people 2-4 weeks to respond. The thinking is that by giving respondents more time to respond, that you’ll get more responses. When, in reality, your email comes into their inbox with a 4 week deadline – they say “Hmm interesting.. I’ll deal with that later”… then the email is promptly forgotten and you sit there wondering what in the world went wrong?!

Instead, keep deadlines short. You’ll be doing both them, and you, a favour.

Final thoughts

After hitting a Roo a few weeks ago – I spent some time today sitting in the waiting room of the only mechanic that my insurer recommends. The experience was a little too much like sitting in a doctors office. It was lovely and clean, staff were highly professional and the shop was well set up.

Despite all that, they still asked me to arrive 10mins early – only to call on me 10 mins late.

…and that is the power of monopoly.

See you all next week.