The approach to judge the time taken to complete same work is different for different people. For example, for a particular job, I like stating more time (say 8 hours) and then finishing before the stated time (say 5 hours). Thus, my customers can have the confidence in me that I would deliver in time but also, I have space to accommodate some other urgent requirement that comes in between.
However; there is another approach which many people like to follow. According to this, the work that is expected to be completed in 5 hours should be completed in 4 or 4.5 hours so that the efficiency is improved. There is no guarantee that the worker would not be disturbed for some other reason during this assignment. Therefore, the employee might have to respond to urgent email, phone calls, attend visitors, go for breaks, etc. in between.
We all know there is not just one assignment at a time but multiple assignments to a single employee. Thus, he is asked to prioritize the work and finish everything as soon as possible. As a result, ‘as soon as possible’ and ‘at the earliest’ are the most commonly used (also misused) phrases these days.
The second approach may seem wrong but there is a strong reason for that being put in place. There are some employees who are not punctual at work. To deliver in time is just not their nature. They want to delay the things for multiple reasons (one of them being – ‘creating importance’). When such people say, “say 7 so that you can start by 8”, means they are planning for 8 and not 7 but people like us who actually plan for 7 suffer due to this approach.
Some of my sincere colleagues are so busy that they don't have time to even take their eyes off the monitor. All they want is to finish all the work 'at the earliest' but they don't know that the work will never finish. In fact, if the work finished or reduced, their employment status might change. Yet, they keep compromising their personal time (time beyond official time) for their employer. They keep extending their working hours and frequently compromise with personal leaves.
I heard a story of a farmer who ran through the farmlands as he was promised to be given the ownership of all the land which he walks through before sunset. He kept on running and covered a huge area but died at sunset. Similar thing is happening to many sincere employees these days. White hair, dull eyes, stressed out minds, paining bodies, etc. are all the side-effects of going beyond the capacity.
The sincere employees take the work seriously and like to finish the work in stipulated time but, after one assignment there is another one waiting. Most of the work is urgent (urgent is another most misused term in corporate world) and most (of the sincere) employees don’t come forward to say they are overloaded.
Commonly having urgent work will wear the employee out. Extra speed requires extra effort and often comes at the price of stress. Also, commonly having urgent work means there is something wrong with the management. Not every request can be urgent. 'Urgent' should be well defined by the management so that no misuse of this term takes place.
Regarding how fast work should be done, some things can be learned from athletics. For example, employers and the managers should understand that different athletes run at different speeds. Speed depends on race type (100 m, 500 m, marathon etc.) and in any race it is important to find the right speed at the right time.
Managers should know that the race depends on several factors such as type of terrain, the distance to be covered, weather conditions, and not just the strengths and weaknesses of the employees. Someone used to running at beach may not be equally good at running in mountainous terrain. Number and type of competitors also plays a crucial role in deciding how the race should be.
Employees should also know that starting too fast could go against them in the long run but this is a common mistake. To show productiveness and efficiency they commit more than their then current capacity and as a result the expectations are set high. No one is to be blamed thereafter.
लाभस्तेषां जयस्तेषां कुतस्तेषां पराजयः I येषामिन्दीवरश्यामो हृदयस्थो जनार्दनः II