Thursday, October 01, 2015

Time for Buzz

A number of people I know have lent into the idea of taking on physical challenges as 'happiness projects'. Some of my friends have completely transformed themselves, and you can see the buzz and energy that has resulted. One interesting common thread though, is the talk of the sacrifice their families have had to make because of the demand these challenges make on their time. The need to wake up early, and go to bed early. By taking on the Comrades Marathon, or an Iron Man, or the Unogwaja Challenge, or the running for 24 hours, the event is not the main attraction. It is the training. It is the time.

What interests me about this is that it is a trade off between Family and Personal Projects. What never seems to enter the equation is work. Work is a given. You have to eat. You have commitments. We have a certain number of hours a week we work. A weekend. And annual leave. The idea of walking into your bosses office and saying, 'I would really like to attempt the Comrades, which means I need a three hour lunch break every day. I will however not be leaving any later than usual, because obviously family time is not negotiable'.

We think about our salaries in money. Tim Ferris argues we are leaving out time. Someone who works a 100 hour week, with two weeks of leave a year (while staying 'in touch') may earn $150,000 a year. Someone who works 40 hours a week, is home for bath, bed and dinner time, with 6 weeks a year of leave, and turns their phone off on the weekends when they leave at 4 o'clock on a Friday - may earn $100,000. Who earns more? How do you value benefits like great colleagues, interesting projects, and an environment that takes into account the needs of the community, families, health and well-being of everyone a business affects?

A former colleague of mine was recently building a new business in a new country. He commented on how a big part of that was 'hurry up and wait'. There were things you needed to do, but there were enforced periods of time in between where there was nothing you could do. 94.37%* of the time someone with one years medical training may be able to do the job of someone with 30 years. There is always 'stuff you can do' when working in creative endeavours. You can do additional reading. Meetings can be longer. You can plan. Do competitor research. You can pretend to work while surfing the web. Work can expand to fill the time allocated.

Killing time in whatever way, shape, or form, seems like one of the most tragic things we can do. Time is priceless. I am not someone who argues that we should always be doing stuff we love doing. Sometimes you need to accept reality and do the things that need doing. Do the things you are best at even if they aren't the things you want to be doing. But we aren't heroes, and there are other things that are important.

That is where I think we have some thinking to do. 'I don't have time' isn't good enough for things we need to do to have enough buzz and energy for the things we have to do.

*always say things you are making up to two decimal places. I call this the Murray Rule. A colleague in my first year of work told me people always believe things when they are to two decimal places and said confidently.
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