What Can An Executive Achieve In One Minute?

You may not know that I am a big fan of Tim Ferris and his great book “The 4-Hour Workweek”. It really is incredible what can be achieved in just 4 hours, but I wondered if this idea was taken a bit further, what an Executive might be able to achieve in just one minute. I decided to call it: “The One Minute Outcome”.

Defined in its classical sense a minute is a measure of time and consists of 60 seconds (also a measure of time interestingly enough). How long a minute is for you is really a personal thing, and seems to be situational dependent. For example, there are many well-known stories of people coming close to death, and seeing their whole world, the sum of their life experiences, pass in vivid detail before their eyes in less than a minute. Contrast this when we feel so bored, that a minute just simply drags by – “it’s just like watching paint dry” The question I pondered over (it took more than a minute to be honest), was exactly what could an Executive achieve in just one minute, if they were really focused, and decided to carve out their time into these bit-size, manageable chunks? And so began my quest….

There is a well-known law called “Parkinson’s Law” which states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. There are so many examples of this, and I am sure you can recount a few yourself. For example, have you noticed that no matter how much time you leave to pack before a trip, your packing always seems to get done. Or what about the time it takes to have dinner – we have all had a two-hour long dinner with our loved one, or on occasion, the five-minute grab-and-go version. So I challenge you to think and action the following:

“Constrain your time to just one minute, and see how much you can achieve in this time!”

Here are some of my own ideas, as way of example:

Decision-making: many decisions can, and should, be made quickly. Look at decisions that fall into the category “this has been bugging me for a while…”. You likely have all the information just waiting for your one-minute outcome. Or consider using split-second decision making which draws from your gut-feel as well as your super fast processing brain. Alternatively, review a decision you made previously that is now causing challenges, and consider reversing it within one minute; it might prove to be a truly great one-minute outcome.

Motivation: in less than one minute you can easily say thank-you to an individual, group or in fact the entire company. You can choose whatever mechanism is best including Twitter, Yammer or your Intranet. Or simply standup at the next company meeting and just say what you have to say (in one minute). Voila.

Action: once you have the available information, have sifted through it and made a decision, it’s now time for action. Many actions (when procrastination does not get in the way) can be handled effectively within one minute. Whether it’s doing it yourself or delegating to a colleague, one minute is often time enough.

Feelings: sometimes it’s good just to sit-back and get in tune with your feelings. Whether they are positive feelings (satisfaction, joy, contentment, happiness), or whether they are negative (anger, feeling annoyed, resentment, anxiousness), then take time to simply absorb them. A negative feeling can be changed to a positive one within one minute by simply changing your thoughts or perspective, and a good feeling can be absorbed to give you renewed energy, all within 60 seconds.

Relax: whether you close your eyes and take a 60-second power-nap (they do work incidentally), or meditate for just one minute just to clear some busy thoughts from your mind, taking some time to breathe deeply and simply relax can be done multiple times throughout the day – and at only one minute per relaxation, that’s really not bad at all.

Contemplate: sit for one minute and clear your mind of all thoughts and see if anything comes to you. Who knows what might happen next.

Be creative: choose a single, clean piece of paper and write the topic you want to be creative about at the top. Now time yourself and jot down random ideas on the topic as quickly as possible. In this exercise, speed is important since it forces a certain type of result. Do this for one minute and see how much great stuff can be captured. It’s a cool little exercise, but do it when you have enough energy since it’s really a forced-sprint.

Stop doing something: it’s a bit like decision-making, but involves simply choosing to stop doing something that you are spending a lot of time on. Many actions are busy-actions, that don’t really deliver based on the amount of time invested. It takes only one minute (or less) to simply admit it is not worth your time to carry on. It takes courage to admit this, but it’s a better option than carrying on regardless and using more of your vital and productive “one minute outcomes”.

A little time trick is to calculate how much your time is actually worth. This can be measured easily by taking your annual remuneration and dividing it by 115,200 (60minutes/hour, 40 hours/week, 48 weeks/year). Once you know this number you now have a baseline to ask yourself “Was I really productive with this minute?”, and also to have some creative fun with it, “How can I be even more productive with the next minute?”. So, if you earn (say) $150,000 per year, then each minute allows you to be at least $1.30 productive.

It’s truly amazing what can be achieved in a minute especially if you consciously think about it. Challenge yourself to try and see what’s on your calendar, arrived in your inbox, etc., and determine (within a minute of course) if something magical can be achieved with this time-slot. For example when someone comes into your office – tell them they have 60 seconds to get their point across (it’s great training to get them prepared for visiting in the future). Or, ensure that you keep your own ‘communication visits’ so focused that they are achieved within 60 seconds. Now that’s real focus.

Just imagine if after all of this, that you are still having trouble squeezing an outcome into just one minute, and so you can simply decide to double the time, and make it two minutes instead – wow. Now you really need to be productive.

Of course not every decision, action or act can be achieved successfully within one full minute of time. However, with a little training you can begin to master handling many things within 60 seconds or less. Then you will be able to contact Tim Ferris directly and tell him to speed up – now I never thought I would ever write that. 

By Joe Connelly

Joe Connelly is Founder & CEO of Salesleadership.com, a worldwide Executive Sales Coaching and Consultancy company, with offices in Canada and Switzerland. Joe can be reached at [email protected]