Are You Always Running Out of Time?

On our way to an important bank meeting, my client turned to me and said, “I wish I had more time to prepare of this – I’ve been so busy I didn’t do a thing for the meeting.” “Are you kidding?” I asked. Busy? Doing what? So we analyzed it: 84 hours per week at the dairy, 21 hours firefighting, and 18 hours in meetings!

In a typical week, the rest of his time was spent playing defense – filling out numerous forms, answering many “urgent” requests, and returning calls. He was spending about 6 of the 18 hours in meetings, listening to others talk about what they’re going to do or have recently done. He spent about 45 minutes actually doing work on new projects he’s currently involved in. And he spent exactly 15 minutes a week on inventing his next breakthrough.

WOW!!! This is frightening! Is this why this client entered the dairy business? Hardly. What’s the solution?

*    Better Time Management – Perhaps

*    Better Prioritization – Probably

*    More Delegation of Decision Making – Definitely

*    More Outsourcing – No Question! Especially in government and environmental reporting.

The reason it’s scary is because if you do the math of what his business actually gets paid for, it’s precisely the opposite of the way my client was spending his time. When he goes on vacation, those minutes of urgent emergencies just sit there, and nothing particularly horrible happens. And in the rare weeks when he doubles his big-thinking time, he’s likely to come up with an insight that will pay the bills for the next six months or a year.

As Seth Godin says: “So, do you really think you’re too busy to work on something remarkable? In fact, you’re actually too busy to do all that (non-urgent) emergency stuff.”