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1265 Hours Available To Reach Your Goals – How Will You Use Them?

July 3, 2012

By Laurie Clarke, COO, The Tatham Group

I had a wonderful Canada Day long weekend complete with a waterfront festival, outdoor activities, relaxing by the pool, ice cream, ice cream and more ice cream!  While doing our best to enjoy the moment there was that nagging feeling like work was just around the corner.  And indeed it was.  Most people I talk to dread going back to work for one reason – there is too much to do and too little time to do it in.

I know there are many reasons to feel this way.  Through observing people at work, the one that sticks out most often is that people get dragged into doing work that doesn’t need to be done.  Myself included.  Especially in large organizations, time can easily be spent working on things that provide no value to the customer.  I’m not saying it’s intentional.  I believe it is largely due to the shift in what our ‘work’ is – knowledge and information. This mostly intangible work creates less direct connection to the overall goals of the company and it is more difficult to measure individual productivity.

The advice to prioritize and set goals for the week and each day tends to leave us frustrated as we think that is just one more thing to add to the list.  There is stress to get things done however where is the sense of urgency to get the right things done?

I stumbled upon an interesting blog about how to unschedule your schedule.  It’s a different approach, as you will see, where you put in your calendar your daily responsibilities and social and relaxing activities.  Absolutely nothing work related is included.

The part that surprised me was that while I may feel like I am working all day I really don’t have that much consecutive time to focus on any particular activity or project.  In fact, I only have 1265 hours in total per year!  Now that I am stressed out about what little time I have to get things done – how will I spend that time?

In Boot Camp we determine that 80% of all work done in an organization doesn’t provide value to the customer yet we struggle to focus our energy on and increase the 20% of our activities that do.  Here are some examples of ways executives that have attended the simulator have helped their employees to focus on the right things:

  • All customer complaints that went unresolved within 24 hours were handled directly by the president and his cell number was given as point of contact.
  • Nothing sits on your desk or in your inbox for more than 4 hours – delete (trash), delegate or do – requires quick decision making and prioritization based on what needs to be done to reach the company goals.
  • Keep goals all-inclusive yet only communicate the next three actions that will lead to achieving them.  When they are finished add another one then another one.
  • Start every conversation with “What would the customer think?” or “How will this help our customer?”  If the answer isn’t clear recheck the priority of the activity.
  • Be a customer of the company they work for and make sure work being done will enhance the experience.  If it doesn’t then stop.

I’m sure I will never feel like I have enough time to do everything I need or want to do.  However, it is far more relaxing going into a weekend knowing that I maximized the time I had in the previous week working on things that matter and that I am well prepared for the week to come.  It helps limit my guilt to the calorie count of one too many ice cream cones.

What will you do with your 1265 hours this year?