Where Does All The Time Go?
What the heck did you get done today? Yes indeed, there are days when you wonder what the point of it all was. Our company conducts corporate time studies and we possess a huge amount of data on the subject.
Hold on. What was that? Time studies? Aren’t those like Big Brother? Actually, the opposite is true. Most employees who track their own time with our TimeCorder devices find them to be kind of fun. Perhaps not as much fun as a luxurious world cruise, but a lot more fun than cleaning the bottom of a birdcage.
We’ve amassed an extensive database of time-use insights, collected by thousands of employees. From this we have learned that most employees work 47 hours per week, including breaks. Well, “That’s not me,” you’re saying to yourself. Last week you worked 195 hours, barely getting any sleep, and eating crumbs from the leftover sandwiches in the boardroom at 10:23 p.m. to avoid fainting from malnourishment.
Yes, there are long days and long weeks. Come to think of it, there are long years too. This one for instance. It’s a leap year, remember? Of course, everyone works long hours now and then. Like when you crunched the numbers for that market feasibility study on recycled dental floss in pet daycares throughout rural Saskatchewan. That took a while, but in truth the average overtime for knowledge workers is just 1.3 hours per day.
And how does that time divvy up? Check out the accompanying pie chart. It’s based on real data.
Most organizations exist to serve customers, so the major chunk of time is devoted to sales, service and operations, which is in the upper right. Those take up about one third of the time. If you’re achieving more than that, consider yourself lucky. You must be doing something right – delegating someone to find an obscure font for a presentation deck, for instance. It’s the other pieces of the pie that drag employees down into the quicksand of corporate productivity muck.
To increase your productivity, more of your time should be moving to the upper right quadrant. Unless you actually enjoy replacing the print cartridge in the photocopy machine for the fifth time this month.
One of the pie slices shows meeting time. You might be surprised by how little time is spent there, but those are just the regularly planned staff or team meetings. Not included are customer meetings and one-on-one encounters with your manager. Those are the meetings where you plead with your boss to extend a deadline because of all the other meetings you're going to. Work becomes a perpetual do-loop of circular references that usually prompts someone to say, “We need a meeting to discuss why we have so many meetings.”
A quick way to be more productive is to spend more time planning your work. Daily planning tends to be about 2 hours per week. Figuring out what’s next and creating a daily to-do list focuses your energy. So does a wand from Hogwarts, but few of us have access to those. The time you invest into planning makes your day run much more smoothly. Except for when your cat barfs up a fur ball. No amount of planning can fix that. So, understand where you spend your time and you’ll be one step closer to getting more done. Your time is worth it.
Guest post courtesy of Mark Ellwood