Archives for posts with tag: time management

Despite the advent of all things digital and web, a lot of us still do a lot of travelling, to physical meetings or events. We still spend a lot of time out of the office. That makes it hard for people to get hold of us but also hard for us to get stuff done while we’re travelling.

If we’re driving to meetings, much more so than if we’re travelling by rail or air, then this can be dead time, because the act of driving occupies so many of our faculties on a constant basis. After all, we might be guiding a one-and-a-half ton killing machine through fast motorways, narrow, winding roads roads and populated areas.

This is road time. In the car is the best time for people to reach us and for us to hold calls and get them out. The one thing we can do when we’re driving is talk. And think, it least to some degree.

If I want to do a long call or an interview with someone, I’ll ask them when they’re travelling. They’re a captive audience during their road time, they’re happy to get the call out of the way – it’s a good use of their time – and they generally have privacy, which you can’t say for train journeys.

Road time can be productive, for both the driver and the person trying to reach them.

Time, as I’m fond of boring you over the last nearly 5 years, is a most precious resource. Which is why we should, in my opinion, be really good at managing it. Yet we’re not, really, compared to other precious resources like money, water, temperature, sales, sales pipeline, marketing leads, fuel and so on, which we’re really good at measuring.

That’s because most have a monetary value easily attached to them. Time does as well, or should, but tends not to, unless you charge by the hour.

Some Irish folk have a fairly relaxed approach to measuring time, or at least estimating its duration. That’s why in our house we have a joke about Irish minutes and English minutes. I’m English and when I say I’ll be about 5 minutes, I’ll be about 5 minutes. When her ladyship and others say they’ll ‘just be 2 minutes’, or ‘I’ll be back in 15 minutes’, I ask if that’s Irish minutes or English minutes.

Then I know what’s going on. It’s like saying you’ll ‘just be 2 ticks‘. How you can ever be close to 2 seconds? Drives me mad.

We often get asked to do a quick job for someone. It won’t take us long. We can ether do it right away, or not do it, or put it off.

One question I always try to ask on a quick job: what are the timings on this?

It’s a small job, I know, I can see that. When do you need it by? You see, it might not be that urgent, and our lives are all about constantly judging a tray of priorities. The priority list is moving all the time, in work or play, with every new thing we do or are asked to do, no matter how small. Time is finite and we can’t do everything. If time was infinite we probably wouldn’t need to prioritise.

So does that person really need it doing right now? The good ones should be able to give you a fair response in terms of its urgency, even if they’re building in some buffer for themselves.

I’m not suggesting you ask about timings every time someone asks you to pass the salt – although makes for interesting dialogue if you refuse to pass it – but if it takes you out of the middle of something time-bound, you can’t re-prioritise without asking about timings. How often have you bust a gut to get something done quickly for someone, and they didn’t need it for ages?

Ask the question.

This post is kind of a Time Part 3, since I already wrestled with the concepts of time here and here.

I’m not a big fan of hindsight. Looking back in time serves no real purpose for me, except if it helps to guide us as to what might happen in the future.

As the financial service companies are forever telling us – while they forever cover themselves – past performance is no guarantee of future performance. It’s no indicator either. It’s a pattern that may or may not repeat itself.

Of course, what we really want is foresight, the ability to look ahead. We often use the word in a phrase beginning something like ‘she had the foresight too…’ when we really mean ‘she had the good sense to’. Anticipating something and playing the probabilities is wise but is still not the same as looking ahead, because we can’t do that. That’s messing with time.

The really powerful form of sight that is definitely within our grasp is insight. Insight comes from high quality and time-sensitive information, and gives us an idea why the concepts of big data, artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence hold so much promise and are maddeningly close to our grasp.

Insight is what we should strive for, because it’s more useful than hindsight and more real than foresight. It’s important not to forget that, because to do so would be an oversight…

Ah, time, the fourth dimension, besides width, depth and length. By far the most interesting dimension I think. The one dimension we can’t do anything about. We can’t control it, slow it down or speed it up. It simply marches on.

Wouldn’t it change a few things if you could see into the future, if you knew what would happen? Or, if you woke up one day and it was 6 months ago, and you could relive the next 6 months knowing exactly how things would play out? We’d make millions within a few days.

But if we all could do it, then it would destroy the 4th dimension. It would destroy the gambling industry, but that’s the merest tip of the iceberg. It would destroy risk, probability, choice, and it would destroy freedom. Our paths would be utterly determined.

So, if we solved the riddle of the 4th dimension, we would change everything, immediately and for ever. In fact, immediacy and foreverness would cease to be concepts.

This post is quite deep I suppose. Which, as we just discussed, is another dimension entirely :-).