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

There are no rollover minutes in life.

Posted May 26, 2008 @ 7:21 AM

Last week I wrote about the need to treat your time as a limited resource, like your salary. As with your income, you have to spend it wisely -- you don't want to squander your time playing Howard Carter on an archaeological dig for the latest version of a budget when you could be doing something important, like actually solving a customer's problem.

You can take the metaphor (about money and time, not the one about Howard Carter) one step further: just as you have to save money for unanticipated emergencies -- a root canal, a new transmission, hospitalization for your dog -- so too do you have to save time for the unanticipated crises at work. Perhaps the CEO needs a new headcount reduction plan, or the dye in your new product is bleeding, or someone finds PCB's in the caulk surrounding the windows in the public schools -- you may not know what the precise emergency is, but you can be pretty sure that you're going to lose 30-40% of each day to putting out these fires.

Of course, you can't really save time. Life is not like Cingular Wireless, with rollover minutes each month. But you can -- and must -- leave ample free time in your day to deal with whatever problems arise.

That's the balance you have to strike as you allocate time to your various commitments and responsibilities: you need to commit to spending time on the truly important tasks for the day, while leaving plenty of flexibility to put out the inevitable fires.

Spend a week tracking how much time goes into handling the unexpected. You'll probably find that the daily burden is pretty consistent, and that will enable you to adjust your schedule -- and your expectations -- accordingly.

The alternative is to find yourself constantly scrambling to catch up and fulfill your scheduled commitments, which means more nights and weekends at the office. And in a world of limited time, eventually that's a check your body can't cash.

You're good at those.

You're good at those.

I love the analogy, Dan.

I love the analogy, Dan. You're good at those. I steal without compunction.

Nice metaphor

Diggin' the metaphor, Dan! If I had a better grasp on the time it took for blogging alone I think I'd be better off : ).

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