A Better Way To Work TimeBack Management

About Dan Markovitz

Dan Markovitz is the founder and president of TimeBack Management. Prior to founding his own firm, Mr. Markovitz held management positions at Sierra Designs, Adidas, CNET and Asics Tiger. Learn More...

Leveling; smoothing out the flow; e.g., doing two performance evaluations a day for 3 weeks, rather than ten a day for three days -- and then needing to take a vacation because you're so burned out.
Overburdening people, process, or equipment; e.g., people working 100 hour weeks for months on end -- come to think of it, like most lawyers and accountants.
Uneveness or variability; e.g., leaving work at the normal time on Thursday, but having to stay at the office till midnight on Friday because the boss finally got around to giving you that project...at 4:30pm.
Waste; activities that your customer doesn't value and doesn't want to pay for; e.g., billing your customer for the really expensive 10am FedEx delivery because you didn't finish the document on time.

TIMEBACK BLOG Syndicate content

The Magnifying Glass and the Prism

Posted February 11, 2008 @ 11:49 PM

Consider the power of a magnifying glass: it concentrates the sun’s rays and enables you to generate heat and fire (and to inflict needless horror on ants, if you’re nine years old).

Now consider the prism: it refracts light and makes pretty colors.

How do you wield your time and attention at work – as a magnifying glass or as a prism? If you’re like most people, you’re probably getting pretty colors but not much heat. That is to say, you start one task and then allow yourself to be interrupted by phone calls (only some of which are really important), emails (virtually none of which are important), meetings (need I say more?), and knocks on the door. Not only do all these interruptions undermine the quality of your work, but it also takes you longer to get the job done.

You know this is true. You’ve undoubtedly had the experience of having to re-read your penetrating analysis of the French goldfish food market because you lost your train of thought, or struggled with the design of a spreadsheet because you forgot what function you were trying to insert in a cell.

In other words, pretty colors, not much heat.

It’s true that some disruptions are due to legitimate crises that you have to handle at that moment. But unless you’re stationed in a missile silo or work in the cardiac unit at the hospital, the vast majority of them can be addressed later.

Here are some ideas on how to reduce the unnecessary interruptions and increase the amount of time for concentrated, focused work.

Yes, I know you're convinced the company will grind to a halt without your tender ministrations to the inbox, but I promise: if the IRS is sitting in your biggest customer’s office and he needs your help in justifying cat food receipts as a business expense, he’s not going to contact you by email.

It’s up to you: do you want heat and power, or do you want pretty colors?

Magnifying Glass and the Prism

I really like your ideas about reducing the unnecessary interruptions and increase the amount of time for concentrated.

When the choice is framed so

When the choice is framed so starkly, the decision is easy, isn't it?

Yeah, I'll take heat and

Yeah, I'll take heat and power. You always have such cogent points. Have a great week.

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