I guess the blessing--and curse--of a busy schedule is that the importance of time is amplified. You need a laser-like focus and a firm understanding of what is and what isn’t important. Our Creative Ventures system leverages ONE CRITICAL THING that sits in an exalted position on our To Do Lists.
We took a small break from weekly travel this month to hit our consulting projects hard and heavy. These large impact projects take office time, and Colin has been traveling between Dallas and Austin a lot (he hates, check that, EVERYONE hates that drive).
We are working on STORY projects and a new idea about the application of our Repeatable Successful Acts idea internally for a client. This is a project that uses our questioning system and our pattern recognition expertise to discover the best practices of a sales team.
I have finished Chapter 12 of the book, heading toward 21 chapters. I have the incredible luck of getting to work with a very special editor, Lauren Lipton, who has kept me on schedule and shields me from all the stuff associated with a major book contract, allowing me to focus on the writing priority. Couple that with Colin taking the lead on a couple of big projects and the writing finds time to get done.
In June, we’ll be back on the road jumping coast to coast on new projects.
Here is our latest edition of our OVER COFFEE series:
Here is the latest OVER COFFEE VIDEO on finding success through pattern recognition, an excerpt from our RSA platform.
"How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness, how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?"
- Theodor Geisel
A 95 mile-an-hour fastball thrown by a major league pitcher takes about 4/10ths of a second to travel 60’ 6” from the pitcher’s mound to home plate. The batter has no hope of just swinging and hitting the damn thing. Time shrinks for the batter and he has to rely on visual cues that his brain is processing during the pitcher’s windup.
You’re sitting down reading a novel you have waited months for. It’s quiet and you’re engrossed in the story when you decide to do a “time check.” Glancing at the clock you are stunned that two hours have passed. It seems like only a few moments! Or maybe you’re watching Game of Thrones, and as the episode ends you can’t believe an hour has passed. This is the “fly” aspect of time: it seems to fly by. Or maybe it’s tax prep time, and then you enter “drag” time, when minutes seem like hours. Either way, time has been displaced within your focus and has entered its most important area, the personal and intimate relationship with time that fits you.
TIME IS THE ONLY IMPORTANT UNIT OF MEASUREMENT, period! Forget dollars and cents, inches and yards, meters and millimeters: it’s really all about time. Your leverage of this elusive metric is the main contributor to your productivity and thus to your success.
At some point, you spent time on a time management class or program. You chose a tool, some type of a time manager, either electronic or written. You learned about prioritization, organization, and scheduling, and you discovered it takes a lot of time just to attempt to manage time! Yet with all of those resources focused on the passing of the next hour, we still can’t get everything done, and we often leave the office trying to figure out where the hell the day went and what did I really get done. Our time management has left us frustrated and confused. The purpose of all of this is to understand and improve our productivity. We treat time like a finite unit of measurement, when in reality time is simply a personal mental model. It means something different to each of us, and the attempts to create acute levels of minutia in order for us to milk the most out of it might really be the ultimate waste of time!
So let’s look at a simple and flexible way to get started in leveraging your time better. I will use THE POWER OF THREE to get you started and you can take it from there.
Your professional time--and I might argue all of your time--can be grouped into three categories.
THINKING:I know, you’re thinking, “Spend time thinking?” Yep, you just did. The amazing part of time and productivity is that few of us spend any time thinking about what we’re doing. We jump from task to task creating a real sense of being busy without pausing to consider which task is worthy of our time and which is an unproductive piece of busy work. The Harvard Business Review did a study that showed most workers spend 41% of their time on discretionary activity that they have never really thought about in regard to being productive. Imagine if you spent some real time thinking about what you were doing, and actively decided on what was important and what wasn’t. Take a look at your stuff. Think about it every day and create a simple plan that gets the important forward-moving stuff done. Using time to think is one of the power behaviors necessary in becoming more productive.
COMMUNICATIONS:While you’re thinking about what you are doing with your time, think about how much of it is spent in one form or other of communicating. You talk, you listen, and you share information all day long, both internally and externally. You read and send countless emails. You go to an endless series of meetings (the great black hole of time). You talk on the phone and are condemned to a variety of conference calls. You gab in the hallways. All of this is related to time. During a recent project, a client of ours scheduled a series of weekly conference calls to track progress. This is a YEAR-LONG project. You do the math. After the 4th call, which lasted about 5 minutes and had 10 people on the call (# min x 10 people: that’s a 50-minute call), I recommended we stop that insanity and move to “as needed” calls as determined by the project chairperson. Get out of the default mechanism of meaningless communications and watch time in productivity soar. Try this: take a blank piece of paper and for a couple of days write down all the different communications you are involved in, and through a very simple process of thinking you will be able to discover you can eliminate many.
ACTION: Thinking and communicating are types of action, but what I mean here is the time you spend in the actual activity that is the purpose of your job. If you are in design, how much time are you sketching and creating? If you are in sales, how much time are you spending on the actual sales process and getting in front of the clients? I want to define action as behavior designed to get you to a very specific goal. Surprisingly, or maybe not, you will discover a paltry amount of your time is being spent in direct action, and the lack of that time allocation is why you feel unable to define what you actually did at the end of the day. When you manage activity and not the hours of the day, you discover an increase in productivity. Clock time is not important, but the real time of your job is. The reality of countless distractions and interruptions is where you spend your time. If you want more time in actionable mode, get rid of distractions during the time you are working on important stuff. Remember the very olden days of the Do Not Disturb sign? It seems archaic, but in a constantly connected world, we are constantly interrupted. To add action to your time allocation, limit your “open door policy” and think DO NOT DISTURB.
IMAGINATION MONEY MAKER: Comcast’s NBCUniversal division is buying DreamWorks animation, the home of the Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar film franchises. This purchase is in the same vein as Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Comics, Pixar, and LucasFilm, though I would say nowhere near as impactful. NBCUniversal will get a good library of characters to leverage in product development and the Universal Studio theme parks. Universal Studios is already on a huge growth run, with revenue more than doubling between 2010 and 2015 (thank you, Harry Potter). Plus the new park in Beijing should prove to be a great home for Kung Fu Panda, and they are already planning a big section dedicated to this chubby hero!
AN APPLE A DAY:Wow, Apple has sure taken a chunk of media time lately. They have been slammed for lower revenue production, with attacks at iPhone production and a series of other less than stellar news topics. This is all happening despite Apple’s having had a $50 billion first quarter with a $10 billion profit. The much-maligned Apple Watch just celebrated its one year anniversary, having sold 12 million units, double the number of iPhones sold in its first year, making up 61% of the smart watch market and tripling the revenue of the Fitbit fitness tracker. Gazillionaire Carl Icahn, once a huge Apple supporter, has dumped all his stock, and fellow bazillionaire Warren Buffett, famous for staying out of tech stocks, just bought a billion shares. Who knows what the heck is going on, but I still love all my Apple stuff!
FOOD THEME PARKS:Eataly, a high-end Italian food marketplace with locations around the world, and Starbucks, well, you know, have ideas about a kind of “theme” park around their brands. Eataly is moving forward with Eataly World, a 20 acre, 25-restaurant park-like complex in Bologna, Italy. Starbucks is planning on opening a 20,000 square foot coffee and food micro theme park in New York. Both are leveraging their brand as a greater experience than just their product!
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