I almost called this “our obsession with time.”
And because of this obsession … procrastinators, who have always been crucified, are being verbally harpooned day in and day out in books, businesses and everyday life as “time wasters” <which is metaphorically making those people as bad as smokers, litterers and communists or, in general, inferior flawed people>.
In my eyes procrastinators have a tough life these days.
Employers are getting better at squeezing any ‘time wasting.’
And peer pressure makes any time wasting become the equivalent of having a post-it note super glued to your forehead with lazy/inefficient/nonproductive/etc. <choose one or all> on it <or just a poor employee>.
Even compensation is becoming more short term.
Almost 60% of Americans are paid hourly.
And even if management isn’t tracking hours, paying people by the hour, demanding meeting effectiveness by the minute or utilizing time efficiency models to squeeze every productive minute out of you … you are putting pressure on yourself with to-do lists, calendar updates, scheduled sex events with your partner and “family time” <limited to maximize 15 minute increments to insure you get everything done you need to get done>.
We are so obsessed with time and maximizing it … all of it … each and every minute … and we are being pressured <by others or by ourselves> to do so all the with the intent to ‘gain time.’
<side note: this, to me, falls into the same category as ‘giving 110%’ in terms of absurdity … I can’t gain time or ‘free up’ time … I gots 24 hours no matter how I manage it>
We are constantly seeking to maximize moments under the guise of ‘not procrastinating’ or in harsher words … not wasting … our time.
Maslow suggested we should seek, and encounter, “peak moments of clarity.”
Some bonehead called Eckhart Tolle <who is considered a very smart bonehead in some circles> wrote an entire book expounding on living a life in the ‘now’ (Power of Now) which was slightly absurd.
A company I worked at, JWT, even wrote a trend white paper called “Time is the new Currency” <in the early 2000’s I believe>.
First of all obsessing over anything, let alone time, is not and never will be … healthy.
And secondly it will never increase efficiency, nor effectiveness, when all time is said and done.
Thirdly, pressure, especially on an ongoing basis, is never a good ingredient in the formula for happiness.
All that said.
I would like to reference an obscure article which can be found in the Academy of Management Journal <Brian Gunia & 3 co-authors of Johns Hopkins> and a book “Wait: the art and science of delay” <Frank Partnoy>.
Let me begin with one of my favorite topics – doing the right thing <ethically>.
I found it really interesting that in a series of experiments slowing down actually makes us more ethical <I had to reread this several times because I guess in my own head I would have thought our initial knee jerk reaction to a decision situation would have been us at our most ethical … but I was wrong>. When confronted with a clear choice between right and wrong, people are 5 times more likely to do the right thing if they have time to think about it rather than if they are forced to make a snap decision. In addition they studied businesses and suggest organizations with a ‘fast pulse’ <like banks> are more likely to suffer from ethical problems than those who move more slowly.
Time pressure enhances the odds someone will make a less ethical, less right, decision.
Beyond that … the books and research suggest that delaying decisions <not yielding to time pressure> actually enhances the quality of the decision.
Sure. There is a ROI on time and delay and decision making … I imagine if I were smart enough I could draw out a decision utility graph with time and quality of decisions but I am not only not smart enough but I cannot draw.
Suffice it to say these relatively smart guys say that in their published papers.
Maybe because of the business I am in I get asked a lot about family time (or diminishing of family time) and not having enough time to <fill in the blank> or managing time.
Beyond the fact I have either seen or have done so much research on how people actually USE their time … I have found that we invest so much time trying to manage time … or worry about how to alleviate the pressure time seems to put on us … we actually waste a shitload of time <which actually creates a doom loop of pressure to use and maximize time>.
There is so much discussion and pressure on what to do with time I see diminishing results.
The pressure to maximize time is actually leading to minimizing time (go figure)
I remind people that we all have the same amount of time … which usually draws some evil looks … but its true … it’s what you elect to do with it and, maybe more importantly, your approach toward time.
I tend to believe we forget, or undervalue, the fact that it is less important to do things first then to do things right.
<and he has made a BOATLOAD of money>
I worry that our obsession with time <speed> has a negative effect in business and at home <basically … in our lives>.
The secret to an effective brain is a combination of fast and slow <and there is research to support this>.
Procrastinators get a bad rap … yet this is exactly what they do.
If you leave something to the last minute you only have a minute to do it.
Sounds obvious but it is a truth.
Procrastinators are actually the ultimate non procrastinators.
They utilize their time the most effectively.
The research shows that procrastinators actually use the time while putting things on hold thinking and evaluating and assessing different shit. Some relevant shit and some non relevant shit … but it all goes into our mental gourds … rattles around … and when the time comes when the decision/action trigger needs to get pulled … the majority of the time the action is a well rounded ‘right’ decision.
And if that just isn’t you?
Think about this … I found this thought from a mother … or maybe call her a ‘home manager’ instead.
“When you don’t know what to do next, just do the thing in front of you.”
If you can live with that kind of thinking I actually believe that not only alleviates pressure <because you just say ‘screw it … I am just doing something’> and you are actually ‘doing’ inseatd of planning or thinking or worrying.
Ok <part 2>.
But I admit it certainly helps if you have more of an idea of what’s the most important thing to do next.
Because these days it seems like too many of us respond to the tyranny of the urgent.
One of the characteristics of an adult who has their shit together is the ability to recognize the difference between the important and the urgent. And, ultimately, refuse to be tyrannized by the urgent … refuse to manage by crisis … refuse to waste time under the pressure to not use time wisely.
Sure. Easier said than done.
Who hasn’t struggled to start something ‘important’ but can’t seem to find the time because of an exploding diaper, an urgent business email, the ringing telephone, or whatever the crisis du jour may be in your own little world?
But as time managers we must recognize the difference … and disregard not only the pressure of others … but the pressure of the moment.
We cannot operate solely in response to the pressure of urgency for long … or we will go nuts.
Time is not about pressure … it is simply about choices <which I fully recognize creates a different type of pressure>.
And choosing what is most important.
When we’ve made deliberate decisions about what’s important certain choices become a no-brainer.
You’re at peace with the choices you make, because they align with your priorities, and they just make sense.
If time is about choices … and under pressure we tend to make poorer choices … it kind of seems like that equals something to the effect that pressure loses time.
But I was never good at math.