I’d like to say that I generally use my time wisely, effectively and to the highest value. But that may be wishful thinking. Others get things done much more effectively and productively, so the last thing that I should do is present myself as an authority on the topic.
But as I write this blog entry at 5 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010, some thoughts come to mind. The single greatest reason I hear from people about why they don’t Blog or work on social media projects is they lack the time for these initiatives. And they are right, for one of two likely reasons. They don’t enjoy using the time for this sort of activity, or they don’t appreciate it or have the habit of using it effectively.
And I am the last person to judge or tell you you “should” do this sort of thing because, after all, you might prefer to sleep at 5 a.m.
We all need time for different things, and sometimes supposedly unproductive time is the most valuable. The hours you spend joking around or simply relaxing with your family (or friends) serve much useful purpose, if you dare call it that.
One of our employees has a developing personal business, and a personal relationship. When we contracted with him, I realized he might be trying to pack far more than 100 hours of “work time” into each week, and realized something might give. So we devised his employment contract with controls — if he sells enough stuff that he would effectively work on commission, he is free to work when and where he wishes. If he doesn’t, he is also free — but he will need to deduct hours from his compensation guarantee. (And I wrote the contract to allow varying levels of control, to give him as much flexibility as he needs, without expecting the company to pay for his sleep time.)
In effect, I also have my own personal contract. If something is enjoyable, fun, and rewarding, it gets time, even if the time might be better spent on something more useful.
If things are getting edgy, if we aren’t meeting our business needs and the only way to achieve the results we need is to roll up my sleeves and do work I distaste, I will do it, as long as necessary, but generally for brief times, until the problems are corrected. If the effort requires longer, more consistent results, two things can happen: I can be fortunate enough to develop a new habit and begin liking what I had distasted previously, or I must find a solution that will get me out of the mess, as quickly as possible.
The former will generally happen if the activity reflects my values, personality, and interests. So I now exercise for an hour at the gym five to six days a week, a tremendously time-consuming activity but one that probably causes me to be one of the fittest 56-year-olds around (and of course the exercise gives me more energy the rest of the day.) And it is easy for me to spend 30 to 60 minutes a day blogging because, after all, I have always been a writer and journalist.
The latter solution to distasteful tasks — getting out of the problem by dumping the work or trying to delegate it — takes me into dangerous territory. If I detest direct selling and formal networking activities, the temptation is to get others to do the work for me, and at least once a not-too-great sales rep conned me into an income guarantee for doing some work I really wanted to offload. (Now we use more disciplined screening and evaluation tools to avoid that sort of mistake, most of the time.)
Generally, I think we can get the most out of our time by doing what we love doing as well as we can, as often as we can. We just need to validate this time with our values, priorities, and needs — and maybe (if time management is proving to be a problem for you) some solid consulting and coaching on priorities and time management.
P.S. At right is another of the possible covers of the new Construction Marketing Ideas book— the survey will only take a second to complete. Some readers have told me they have been unable to vote online because the survey software thinks they’ve voted before, perhaps for another Construction Marketing Ideas survey. If that happens, you can simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your vote A to E. Thanks!