I hated my year 9 typing class. Deeply. Passionately. I despised lining up outside the old wooden door of the typing room, and I loathed filing in like little soldiers when Mr. Lang came to get started. The walls were grey and the cork pinboards had bits and pieces of old notices flapping in what would have been a breeze if the room wasn’t so damn stagnant. The computers sat stoically like boxes of ancient technology that were dated before the batch had even been purchased by the Victorian Dept of Education.
I had chosen the class simply to complete the minimum units of Science and Technology required to pass the year. I loved my English, History, and Drama, but getting through the subjects in other areas was tiresome and mind-numbing for me. I still remember sitting through 45-minute sessions of dry old rote learning, where we would practice fj fj fj fj fj for 5 minutes, then move onto fyj fyj fyj fyj , then advance further for another 5 minutes to fryj fryj fryj … It was so boring that I occasionally faced the embarrassment of needing to rush out to the bathroom to clean up the brain juice that was trickling out of my ear.
The aim of these classes was to become a proficient touch typist. At 13 years of age, I could not have cared less about this skill. It seemed irrelevant and meaningless to me… it certainly made no difference in my real world where telephones were attached to walls and music came from record players and cassette decks. I did not grow up in an affluent neighborhood. We never had a computer at home. I never even owned one till I was in my 20s.
It is amazing how easily our world can become insular and our vision so very short-sighted. As a working-class year 9 student I totally missed the point. The touch typing test on Fridays made me think that the aim was to get faster at typing, but now on reflection, I see that what we were actually learning was how to be accurate, efficient typists. This was where the speed would come from. It doesn’t matter how many letters you can type in a minute. What matters is that the letters are being typed correctly and that you are doing this with the most efficient combination of keystrokes possible. It is only when we tick these two boxes that our touch typing becomes fast and effective and that we can really use typing as a tool to create something amazing with our work.
In business, we can make these same mistakes too. It’s very easy to pursue the short-term goal of working faster, instead of realizing the long-term impact of developing work systems that champion accuracy and efficiency. I meet so many people who tell me they work long and hard, and that they are really very organized. But in the next breath they explain they are tired and they are not getting anywhere with some of their key aims. It is one thing to work fast. It is another to work with accuracy and efficiency. These are the things we need to improve to create something amazing with our work.
The person trying to work faster will have a To Do List that seems to be getting longer, not shorter, but the person working to improve their efficiency and accuracy will get through their work effectively and without the need to double back. The business owner in pursuit of speed alone will champion their long list of daily achievements and wear them like a badge of honor. The business person set on improving their efficiency and accuracy will invest time in building the systems required to work less and achieve more without mistakes. The one aiming to get more done themselves will miss out on the benefits of setting up structures for others to do the work for them.
In the short term, setting up systems to facilitate accuracy and efficiency feels irrelevant and boring, especially if you haven’t yet seen the capacity you have to do something amazing with your work. When you look at your inbox, you want to simply get through as many as you can as fast as you can. When you are filing you want to put as much away as possible without spending more time on the task. When you are creating social media content or posting it out, you just want to get the job done and move on to something else. When you come to reconciling your transactions, you don’t want to spend one more minute on the task than you have to. But with this approach, you will always be tied to the job yourself, and even if you are working at your peak performance, you will be limited by the clock. There are only so many things you can do in any one minute.
But when you are building your business with a system mentality you work to reduce the number of steps it takes to complete the task and to set up safeguards to minimise inaccuracies. You take the time to learn new software and create checklists and routines that allow you to flow more efficiently through your work. You invest in setting up instructions to delegate your routine tasks so that you get the job done without needing to complete any tasks yourself. This is how you run your Business Like A Boss. And this is how you will come to realise the potential you have to create something truly amazing with your work.