How many Thursdays do you have left in your life?

I don’t know about you, but no matter what I do, it seems like I always use more time to do something than I should use.  This is not a new phenomenon.  Actually if you look it up there is actual supposed law for this belief.  Called Parkinson’s Law.

Cyril Northcote Parkinson, actually wrote about this law in a humorist essay he published in the British publication, “The Economist” in 1955.  Parkinson was actually referencing the fact, and the math to support his belief on how bureaucracies expand over time.  Long story short, he was talking primarily about how officials in government seeks to grow subordinates over time, and as they grow the staff, the work increases, but the results do not increase.  Because the bureaucracy creates more work for itself.  But I digress. Go here and read about it yourself.

In my world, Parkinson’s Law manifests in certain projects that I want to complete.  The best example of this I can give is the one I am working on this week. I have to give a keynote presentation next Friday.  I have delivered several presentations that are similar to the one I am giving, but I have to change this one up for the audience more than normal. This week has been a light week for me, which has provided me a lot of time to work on this presentation.

I started on Monday, and I am 75% complete.  But I should be 100% complete and not have to look at it again until next week.  But I know I have until next week to do it.  Well, really Monday or so.  And because I know this, I haven’t completed it yet.

I have always tried to do whatever I can to get the most out of my time, but I still find myself, like in the above example, using more time than I should.

I recently was listening to a book where the author asked me “How many Wednesdays do you have left in your life?”  Well, I had never thought about the question like that before. I never thought about how many Wednesdays an average person lives, or any other day for that matter.

After hearing this question I thought about it, and like most of us would do, and maybe you are doing it now.  I started doing some math.  The math I will do today is on how many Thursdays I have left, obviously I hope I have more, but lets just play the averages.

I am 39 years old. My dad died when he was 60 (ugh), not sure how that plays in.  One of my grandfathers lived until 86 and the other lived until 83.  However, this plays in, I don’t know, but it gives me some benchmarks.

So how many Thursdays do I have left?

  • If I make it to 60 = Currently week 15 of my 39th year, 1,077 Thursdays left.
  • If I make it to the average for males in the United States: 78: 2,013 Thursdays left.
  • Average of my two grandfathers 83+86=169/2=84.5, 2,325 Thursdays left.

If you think about life experiences how many times do you really do certain things.  For example:  How many Super Bowl parties do you really attend.  Lets just say you started going to Super Bowl Parties when you were 18.  Then you if you just use an average life span, (78), you could have only attended 60 Super Bowl parties throughout your life.  It seems like a lot, but when you look at it like this it makes it seem really small in my mind. Not sure how you think about it.

Now that I got you thinking.  Well me too.  I am trying to create a stronger sense of urgency in everything I do.  Look, I consider myself, to be very disciplined, very focused, and very consistent in just about everything I do.  But even I have a room for improvement.

This little exercise challenged me to think about how many days I really have to do what I want to do, and need to do.  When you are a kid, you think you will live forever.  And then as an adult you are too busy to think about living forever. Then you wake up one day and realize you have been out of high school for 20 years.

I have accomplished a lot.  I don’t know if it is more or less than I thought I would accomplish, because I never really thought that much about it.  However, as I am sitting here today in Naples, Florida where I have lived for the last two years, typing this blog, and now that I think about what it is I am achieving and accomplishing, I can honestly say I have accomplished a lot.

However, I know I am capable of so much more, and you are as well. We just have to quit falling victim to Parkinson’s Law and create the urgency to do whatever it takes to start and  finish things quicker.

To your success and your future.

 

This one change could increase your teams productivity by 32 percent!

I speak to many leaders and owners of companies that tell me projects are not getting completed as quickly as they should.  It could be a variety of different things that are slowing them down.  Things such as lack of communication, ego, no sense of urgency, to just having the wrong people on the team.

However, recently I started sharing another thing that could be preventing their teams from accomplishing the goal. And it doesn’t have to do anything with the personalities of the team.  It is instead the distance of the team from each other while working on the project.

At the height the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union both, had teams of engineers working on multiple projects trying to develop and create more more weapon systems and satellite systems.  Between the government projects and private enterprise projects, teams of engineers spent countless hours working trying to develop something that had never been done before.

And like in most organizations, there were teams that consistently outperformed other teams in developing and implementing new things and completing projects. The government commissioned a study to determine why some teams were just better at doing this than other teams.  So they called on Thomas Allen who was a MIT Professor.

Allen started off his research by locating what he called “twin projects”, which was when two or more organizations, either private firms and the government were both working on the same problem.  Or it could have been two groups with the government or two groups of private firms.  Allen then measured the quality of their solutions and came up with a list of success factors that two teams had in common for completed projects.

What Allen determine pretty quickly was that the most successful projects were driven by individuals in groups that were very good communicators. After determining this, he wanted to see where these good communicators learned the skill.  Did they all go to the same school?  Did they have more experience?  Were they better at basic leadership skills? Were they just smarter IQ? Did they know each other better?  Allen looked at all of these factors and none of them gave any significance to being the reason for their superior communication skills.

Then he discovered something unique about where and how the teams of engineers were placed in their working environment. At first Allen didn’t think proximity of these teams had anything to do with their ability to get the jobs completed. But after looking at it further he determined that the most successful teams worked closer together physically.

“The ability to see each other everyday” Allen said, “is more important than you think.”

After determining this Allen researched it further by looking at the frequency of the communication between the teams.  They started looking at this across all teams and determined something very interesting. The further away people worked from each other, the frequency of their communication rapidly decreased. Allen said “It is really a serious thing, if you’re on a different floor in some organizations, you may as well be in a different country.”

Allen plotted the frequency of interactions against distance, and he ended up with a line that resembled a steep hill.  It was almost vertical at the top and flat at the bottom.  This became known as the Allen Curve.

As you can see by the curve that the steepness starts right at the eight meter mark. At eight meters or less that communication rises off the charts.

In today’s world with digital communications research has also found that teams still obey the Allen Curve. One study found that workers who shared a location emailed one another four times as often as workers who did not, and as result they completed their projects 32 percent faster (Daniel Coyle; The Culture Code, Bantam Books 2018).

As a trainer I work with organizations daily on the importance of communication in the workplace and how do it more effectively. One of the biggest things I will now share with them is the importance of proximity amongst the team.

The fact is that if we see each other and we know we have to face each other, we will communicate more effectively and more often, these two things determine success on projects and in the workplace.

To your success and your future.

Notes:  I originally read about the Allen Curve in Daniel Coyles book The Culture Code.  I highly recommend this book to anybody who wants to create a better working team. Proximity matters.  Google has also understood the importance of this and have designed all of their facilities accordingly to create the most opportunities for teams to collaborate and work together. 

The two best measurements on determining what you think is important

Years ago when I was single I would eat out a lot, even more so than I do as a married man now, I think. Ha Ha.  I can remember one year I was looking at my bank account online.

My bank had one of those software systems that put all of my spending into categories, and it gave me a pie chart of how and where I spent my money. Under the food category it would actually break down by name the different restaurants where I spent my money.

I can remember looking at this chart and thinking to myself. WOW.  I spent a lot of money at this restaurant, and that restaurant, they should be giving me so free food. I did say that in my head, but what I really thought was, Oh my God, I can’t believe how much money I am spending just to eat out and then basically flush that money down the toilet, if you know what I mean.

At the point I made the decision to change my eating habits and only eat out a few times a month. At this time, I was in the process of making some investments and doing some other things that I needed to do to secure a better future for myself. I made those changes and about a year later, I was significantly better off.  That one little change in habit and discipline allowed me to make others changes as well.  These changes allowed me to have some success in several areas of my life.

This one little measurement in my life had high gains for me.  By looking at my spending habits I could easily tell what it was that I valued.  And that was work, because I didn’t have time to cook.  Or at least that is what I told myself. And I enjoyed not having to cook. And my thinking in my head at that time was “I had the money to spend”, so why shouldn’t I do it?

I tell everyone today that if I look at your bank account and your transactions I can learn really quickly what it is you value and think is important.   And these important things could be good for you or bad for you, I don’t know.  The bottom line is, you and I both, spend our money on things we think are important.

The other area of people’s life that I can look at and take a measurement of, and know what it is they find important.  Is where they spend their time, inevitably I have people tell me all of the time in my workshops that they put their family above everything else as the most important, and the time they spend with them is sacred.

Then I ask them to complete a timelog (which is a log that you put what you do each day down on paper to the quarter-hour of every hour).  Now, most people never want to be totally honest with themselves and put exactly how, and how much time, they spend on certain things.  But those who do, can really learn a lot from this exercise.

What people typically find out is that they waste more time than they thought they did.  They also learn that what they say is most important, doesn’t always measure out to be as important. At least the amount of time, if any, given to that activity.

Are you willing to do an inventory of yourself or your household? Are you willing to look at these two measurements in your life and see if you are spending too much, or too little time and money in these areas?  Most people aren’t willing to be this critical with themselves, but you are different if you have read this far.

Take a look at how you spend your money.  What trends do you see?  Good or bad.  If you are interested in tracking your time on a timelog, reach out to me at bwillett555@gmail.com and I will give you the timelog sheet for free. Just shoot me an email with the subject line TimeLog and in the email put your email address.

Before you can decide where you want to go, you have to first know where you are.  You can do this by measuring these two areas of your life.

To your success and your future.

 

 

 

 

 

Three resources you have to manage daily, if not hourly.

If you are in business you are well aware of all of things you have to manage. Things such as costs, cash flow, and revenue to name a few.  These go without saying.  These are just as important in your personal life as well, aren’t they?  Maybe you don’t call them that. Here is what you might call them. Your expenses, your account balances, and your income.  No matter what you call them we all know that these are important to a businesses success as well as an individual’s success.

It goes without saying that you are well aware of the importance of the above three resources.  But what about the three resources you might not be thinking about that are just as important. You might say they are even more important, because these three resources are what allow you to manage the three above even better.

Your time: Time is our most precious resource and should be our most valued.  We only have so much time in a day.  If we don’t manage our time, we will see it pop up in other areas of our business.  If we don’t make time to focus on revenue generation, then we will see that our revenue will go down, which makes our expenses become a bigger issue.

How and where you spend your time will determine your success or failure.  Whether you are a business owner, a sales rep, or work for a company.  Your time and how you spend your time towards profitable activities, is what determines your business success or your company’s success.

Your energy: You could make the argument that time and energy are similar.  Because where you spend your time, is where you are spending your energy.

Well, this isn’t always the case. You could zap your energy on a making a simple decision that you don’t necessarily need to be making.  There is something called decision fatigue. And we as human beings have to make thousands of decisions every single day.  The research shows that every single decision we have to make takes some of our energy.  Causing us to fatigue.  Why do you think most diets blow up in the evening.  Most affairs happen after a long work day.  I am not saying either of these always happen at these times.  However, research shows that the longer we are awake and depending on the nature of our jobs, that our energy gets drained from all of the decisions we have to make.

Your opportunity cost: The definition of opportunity cost: the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.

Each day we all have to make decisions, hence why we have to manage the decision we make as stated above, because it can zap our energy.  Secondly, we have to manage our opportunity costs.  When you make a decision to invest your time and energy in one area of your business, you are deciding not to focus on another part of the business.

And there in lies the opportunity cost.  When we decide to invest our capital in to a new software system, in means we won’t have the capital to invest somewhere else in our business. We might not be able to hire another employee, or outsource a function to a vendor.  None of the decisions we make on a daily basis are made in a vacuum.  Every single decision we make, we are in essence making two decisions.

We are making the decision “to do” this and “not do” this.  So there is a cost associated with the “to do” and a cost associated with the “not do”.  Whatever the decision is that we are making, we believe that whatever it is we are going “to do” is more valuable and profitable than the “not do”.  However, we must realize that there is a cost associated with both of them.  We just have to believe that we are making the more profitable and smart decision.

Obviously, much of this blog was written from a business perspective.  However, these same rules apply to our personal lives as well. We have to mage our personal time. We have to manage our energy in our personal lives and we definitely have to manage our opportunity costs in our life.  All of these decisions impact each other. None of them are made a lone.

Are you managing your resources to your full advantage?

To your success and your future.

 

The meter is still running

I am sure most of us have been in a taxi cab before.  If you are like me there have been times when you have been sitting in traffic just watching the meter just keep running.  You are in the back seat just watching the dollars add up.  I really hate that.  It just seems like a total waste of money and there is nothing you can do about it.

Don’t you wish the cab driver would turn the meter off when you are sitting in traffic not moving?  That would be awesome.  But that would never happen.  Our lives are just like the cab sitting in traffic, whether or not we are moving towards our destination which are our goals, ambitions, or purpose the meter/time is still running.  If we are not moving towards these things, just like the taxi cab driver doesn’t care, time doesn’t care what we do with it either, it just keeps moving also.

So today, I am choosing to not let the meter keep running while I sit in traffic, I am going to get out of the cab, tell the driver to take an alternate route, or never get in the cab to begin with.  I am not going to let another day go by that I am not working towards my purpose and I suggest you do the same.

 

The Daily Miracle

“Philosophers have explained space. They have not explained time. It is the inexplicable raw material of everything. With it, all is possible; without it, nothing. The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it. You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. A highly singular commodity, showered upon you in a manner as singular as the commodity itself!

For remark! No one can take it from you. It is unstealable. And no one receives either more or less than you receive.

Talk about an ideal democracy! In the realm of time there is no aristocracy of wealth, and no aristocracy of intellect. Genius is never rewarded by even an extra hour a day. And there is no punishment. Waste your infinitely precious commodity as much as you will, and the supply will never be withheld from you. No mysterious power will say:—”This man is a fool, if not a knave. He does not deserve time; he shall be cut off at the meter.” It is more certain than consols, and payment of income is not affected by Sundays. Moreover, you cannot draw on the future. Impossible to get into debt! You can only waste the passing moment. You cannot waste to-morrow; it is kept for you. You cannot waste the next hour; it is kept for you.

I said the affair was a miracle. Is it not?

You have to live on this twenty-four hours of daily time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect, and the evolution of your immortal soul. Its right use, its most effective use, is a matter of the highest urgency and of the most thrilling actuality. All depends on that. Your happiness—the elusive prize that you are all clutching for, my friends!—depends on that. Strange that the newspapers, so enterprising and up-to-date as they are, are not full of “How to live on a given income of time,” instead of “How to live on a given income of money”! Money is far commoner than time. When one reflects, one perceives that money is just about the commonest thing there is. It encumbers the earth in gross heaps.

If one can’t contrive to live on a certain income of money, one earns a little more—or steals it, or advertises for it. One doesn’t necessarily muddle one’s life because one can’t quite manage on a thousand pounds a year; one braces the muscles and makes it guineas, and balances the budget. But if one cannot arrange that an income of twenty-four hours a day shall exactly cover all proper items of expenditure, one does muddle one’s life definitely. The supply of time, though gloriously regular, is cruelly restricted.

Which of us lives on twenty-four hours a day? And when I say “lives,” I do not mean exists, nor “muddles through.” Which of us is free from that uneasy feeling that the “great spending departments” of his daily life are not managed as they ought to be? Which of us is quite sure that his fine suit is not surmounted by a shameful hat, or that in attending to the crockery he has forgotten the quality of the food? Which of us is not saying to himself—which of us has not been saying to himself all his life: “I shall alter that when I have a little more time”?

We never shall have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is. It is the realisation of this profound and neglected truth (which, by the way, I have not discovered) that has led me to the minute practical examination of daily time-expenditure.”

This one chapter sums up the miracle of life that we all, who are able to read this, possess.

This is the first chapter of a book titled: How to Live on 24 hours a day; Author: Arnold Bennet.

Born: May 27, 1867, Hanley, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Died: March 27, 1931, London, United Kingdom