Time Management: It's Just Math

Window Washer, symbol of time management

Time management is an important part of any management job, but knowing that and doing it are two different things.

Two weeks ago, we began a discussion on how managers have two jobs: their first job is doing their job, the second is managing their people.

Naturally when juggling two jobs, efficiency becomes prime and maximizing the use of every available second is not optional, it is essential.

Using the premise, I can do anything, I just can’t do everything, we touched on the concept of time: how much available time vs actual time we have each day.

We talked of how an eight-hour workday may only yield a few short hours of time in which we are expected to complete a full day’s work.

And we learned of how it is nothing more complex than simple arithmetic that will guide us to accomplish optimal results when we understand that we can only do what we can do in the time available to do so.

We talked of how we may begin each day with the intent of being at work for eight hours, but once we deduct the amount of time we have committed to events like meetings and personal breaks we may well find ourselves with just a few hours left, meaning the reality of completing a full work is no longer even remotely possible.

Assuming the arithmetic shows us that having deducted scheduled times for meetings and personal breaks from the initial eight hours, we now have four hours - half a day - to complete a full day’s work.

Experience should have taught us that we don’t really have four hours because we will contribute a portion of that time to “unscheduled” events. These may range from an unexpected meeting to a colleague/direct report knocking on your door with the biggest and most widely used lie in the corporate world, “Do you have a minute?”

Has it ever been a minute?

Perhaps these unscheduled interruptions eat up an additional one hour of your day, now you have three hours left.

What to do? What to do?

Window Washer Time Management

If I have not yet told you my window-washer story, now is the perfect time to do so. If I have shared this with you previously, this is the perfect time to hear it again.

You are a window washer. You are no ordinary window washer, you are the world’s best, most skilled and fastest window washer. You utilize every known piece of equipment and technology along with the finest cleaning products society has to offer.

There is nothing you can do to speed up your process.

Here is your dilemma. You have seven windows to wash. Each window takes 10 minutes of your time and cannot be done any quicker.

You have one hour of available time. And you have seven windows to clean.

What you gonna do?

You can sweat it. You can try and figure out a way to be faster and you will learn that you can’t. You may consider doing a lesser job of cleaning each window and you will realize that is not how you do things.

It is What It Is

And then the painful truth will hit home. You can only wash six windows, which means one window will not be cleaned that day.

That may hurt. That may cause you stress. It might make you feel unaccomplished. But, it is what it is and regardless of any of this, it is a simple arithmetic fact that 6×10 = 60, which is the exact number of minutes you have available to you. The seventh window does not squeeze in to that hour.

For many, as clear as the math is, this is a difficult concept to wrap their heads around accept and I encourage you to surrender the reality of simple addition so that next week when we discuss the seventh window you will be ready to wash yours.

Till we read again.

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