It's About Time

Isn’t it a worn out cliché that most of us find that there are never enough hours in a day to accomplish all we set out to do?  No matter how much we rely on our Franklin Daily Planners and the array of other time management strategies at our disposal our “To Do” lists too often seem to suffer from a “check off” deficit. 

Later this week I’ll be flying from my Florida Panhandle home to the West Coast.  To me westward bound flights are amusing; from the central time zone it affords me the magic of a 26 hour day and with it the opportunity to efficiently apply those bonus hours, which I feel certain I will (not).  😃  Time, the great equalizer, also has its sense of humor.  Not much more than a day after arriving in California will my additional 120 minutes be squandered and then some, on a scheduled red eye flight to North Carolina, resulting in what will be a mere 21 hour Saturday.  The injustice!

Recently I listened to a particular someone bemoan their time constraints.  Though on vacation leave from the office, a critical business deal was in the offing.  Earlier that day I observed several phone calls and texts being exchanged, vacation curtailment a looming possibility.  Although I read a sense of responsibility in her countenance, it appeared to be accompanied by resignation and disappointment in yet another imbalanced compromise between work, family, and leisure.

“I have an obligation to my company and client,” she said.  “Also, as a supervisor I don’t want to unduly burden my staff with work assignments that rightfully are mine.”  A noble gesture, I thought; we should all have managers who treat subordinate welfare so passionately. 

Upon reflection of that conversation over the next few days I thought back on my own career as a supervisor and reached two conclusions.  The first was that I was only as good as the people I hired.  If I selected employees who lacked initiative, were disrespectful, and unwilling to learn and adapt then ultimately it would be a negative reflection on the organization, our work team, and eventually me.  Second, I believe we all strive to be imitators.  That’s not always a bad thing.  We try to glean what we see as the best elements in a person and incorporate a little of it.  In organizations we look to our supervisors to model a standard of behavior, of “how things are done.”

When I conducted performance evaluations I would generally conclude an employee’s goals for the next rating period with a heed to take care of their personal, family, and spiritual needs.  As odd as it may sound that encouragement may have been as important to me as them.  How hypocritical for me to have preached that sermon, yet in the same breath worked 60 and 70 hour weeks myself and not allotted quality time for activities outside the office. 

I was reading a common axiom from a Ken Blanchard book, “Don’t work harder—work smarter.”  Blanchard went on to say:

Most people still think there is a direct relationship between the amount of work they do and success—the more time you put in, the more successful you will be.  One successful entrepreneur when asked to speak to a group of college students about what it took to be successful said, “This will be the shortest speech in history because it’s easy to be successful.  All you have to do is work half a day.  You can work the first twelve hours or the second.”

While successful people do work hard, they think before they act.  If you don’t take time to think, strategize, and prioritize, you will work a whole lot harder, without enjoying the benefits of a job smartly done. 

Bonnie Crater, CEO of marketing company Full Circle Insights and a Silicon Valley veteran, says, “My whole life I’ve probably worked typically 40-50 hours a week.  I was a much better performer if I had a good balance in my life,” she says.  “Our philosophy is that the rest is as important as the work,” says Crater, who claims to chase people out of the office around 5 p.m.  “We work in an industry where business creativity is at a premium, and in order to be the most creative, your brain has to be not tired.”  Further, she asks people about their hobbies in job interviews—to ensure they have them. 

Crises occur without a doubt.  Public safety employees get called out for emergencies.  A data compromise takes place and those in IT are engaged for hours and oftentimes a day or two.  Physicians and medical care workers respond to instances where life hangs in the balance.  News media face deadlines. 

Yet over duration, we owe it to our loved ones, our co-workers, and ourselves to honor time.  Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” said:

I’ve never heard of someone on their deathbed say, “I wish I’d gone to the office more!”  They all say something like, “I wish I’d cared more.  I wish I’d loved more.  I wish I’d reached out to others more.”

We all face choices every day.  Your time has tremendous value.  How can it best be honored?

Consider that as we enter into this holiday season.  A neighbor’s yard may need a final leaf raking.  Give time to someone for whom this Christmas could be the last.  You can babysit for the young couple down the street who might could use a date night.  Take your spouse or significant other window shopping.  Read books to your little ones, or tell stories.  Bake cookies.  Sing songs.  I guarantee the work will be there tomorrow.

The Seed Sower


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