“Time Management” is a Waste of Time.

September 16, 2010 - Business Skills, Managing People, Operations

Making the most of your day seems impossible when you are buried under a pile of b.s. tasks and general nonsense. Finding ways to be more productive may NOT be the answer.

When I was a kid, I remember doing what seemed to be hundreds of hours of chores. My parents thought that sweeping the floor was good for the soul – and they were right. One day, while sweeping the floor, my older and wiser father gave me some advice that changed the way I look at problems to this day.  Here’s the story:

For years as a child, when sweeping, I would sweep all the dirt and whatnot into small piles throughout the room. Then, I would sweep each pile into the dustpan and walk it over to the trash and dump it out. I often have to sweep the room again, to clean up the path from each pile to the trash can because; inevitably I would spill a bit of dust or whatnot on my travel across the room.

If I made a list of the steps in order, it would look like this:

  1. Sweep dirt into 4 piles
  2. Sweep Pile 1 into dustpan
  3. Walk to Trash can
  4. Dump out Dustpan
  5. Sweep path from pile 1 to trashcan into Pile 2
  6. Sweep Pile 2 into dustpan
  7. Walk to Trash can
  8. Dump out Dustpan
  9. Sweep path from pile 2 to trashcan into Pile 3
  10. Sweep Pile 3 into dustpan
  11. Walk to Trash can
  12. Dump out Dustpan
  13. Sweep path from pile 3 to trashcan into Pile 4
  14. Sweep Pile 4 into dustpan
  15. Walk to Trash can and
  16. Dump out Dustpan
  17. Sweep path from pile 4 to trashcan into Pile 5
  18. Sweep Pile 5 over to the trash can
  19. Sweep Pile 5 into the dustpan
  20. Dump out Dustpan
  21. Remember how much I dislike sweeping.

My dad’s simple advice was to move the trash can. Here’s how it changes the process:

  1. Sweep dirt into 4 piles
  2. Move trash can to pile 1
  3. Sweep pile 1 into dustpan
  4. Dump out dustpan into trash
  5. Move trash can to pile 2
  6. Sweep Pile 2 into dustpan
  7. Dump out dustpan into trash
  8. Move trash can to pile 3
  9. Sweep Pile 3 into dustpan
  10. Dump out dustpan into trash
  11. Move trash can to pile 4
  12. Sweep Pile 4 into dustpan
  13. Dump out dustpan into trash
  14. Move trash can back to closet

Not only did changing the process eliminate prevent wasting effort, it made the whole job shorter and more satisfying to do.  I didn’t feel like I was chasing my tail sweeping up after each walking path. The job stopped being as emotionally taxing and started being fulfilling.

The moral of the story here is – if you are finding some activity in your business to be draining emotionally, or stressful from a time management perspective – maybe you should look into changing what or how you are doing things instead of trying to get better at “time management.”

In the long run, I’ve since learned how to shorten the entire process down to 1 step.

  1. Vaccuum

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