When we ask clients what their greatest barrier to innovation is, 8 out of 10 will say: Time.

Nevertheless, we all have the same amount of time as Einstein had, the same as Zuckerberg, as Elon Musk, as Richard Branson... Everyone has just 24 hours a day. It’s how we use those hours that is important...

Is it time to stop lamenting our lack of time and start taking action?

Here are 5 ways to make more time for innovation.

1. Partner Up

To make the most use of your time, focus on your strengths and partner-up for your weaknesses.  If you put two people together who are both good with data and ask them to solve a problem, then they’ll typically spend more time than is necessary behind the spreadsheet. Team a data specialist with a hands-on person who craves being with other people and they’ll be likely to start playing with the data and testing assumptions a lot quicker. The best results and efficiency will come from a diversity of skills and experiences.

2.     Innovation can’t happen, unless you apply yourself to it...

When it comes to innovation many people find themselves treading water whilst they wait for diaries to match up, or for free days to miraculously appear. Nevertheless, constructive progress can take place in an hour, or even 15 minutes. So, whilst you're waiting for diaries to align, challenge yourself to spend at least 15 minutes everyday progressing an idea or exploring opportunities. For example, in 15 minutes you could gather insight, develop a persona map or test a prototype. When diaries do align, you'll be surprised how far ahead those 15 minutes a day have taken you. 

3.     Have the courage to commit to one thing...

When innovating, it’s easy to get so overwhelmed by all the possible opportunities you could be working on, that you end up doing a lot of things half-heartedly or not at all. To avoid this, try focusing on one key area for a few weeks at a time. They don’t have to be big projects, but they do need to challenge you. Pushing yourself to your limits in one area will be far more productive and engaging than spreading yourself thinly across multiple projects. Commit to one thing and see the results.

4.     Make your progress visible

Many successful innovators have revealed that they keep a notepad by their bed, or take one with them wherever they go to quickly capture their ideas and work. That’s because something visible is far more likely to be returned to, than something that rolls around in your head failing to be developed or going dormant. Use drawings, mind maps, diagrams, notes— whatever works for you.

5.     Get Training

In the same way that we offer training for organisations and individuals looking for support with their innovation activities, there are a range of companies and consultants that offer time management training. If time management continues to elude you, these trained professionals can give you tried and tested techniques for managing priorities and competing demands more effectively, paving the way for more time to spend on innovation.

All too often people see innovation as something that saps time, but by flipping your mindset and looking at it as something that results in celebration, you'll find that you are progressing your innovation 'to do' list far more frequently.  That's because positivity breeds action. So celebrate progress, regardless of how minor or momentous! Employ this (and some of the other tips above) and before you know it, you’ll have taken innovation off the “to do” list and onto your “I’m doing it everyday” list.


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