I finished reading The Impact of a Single Event this week. Interesting book (and Canadian!). There’s a minor character in it who argues against the absolute truth of anything. (Great party conversation incidentally, if you’re looking for something a little different). When someone poses the absolute truth of 1 + 1 = 2, the character reminds us that adding two identical glasses of water together does not equal two, absolutely, as a (very) small percentage of said water will evaporate during the process, leaving us with something closer to 1.99999. Which got me thinking about time.
On a monthly basis, I spend a day on strategy and planning for the following 30 days. I map out my priorities – my “quadrant 2”, important-but-not-as-urgent tasks that I want to make sure receive the proper attention in the busyness of the days ahead. But what exactly is “proper attention”?
I’ve learned (as you likely have) that a task that should take 90 minutes can often consume a day. Sometimes there’s the reality that I didn’t fully appreciate how much work was required. Other times I want to perfect it, and that last 5% takes 50% of the time. And then there’s the natural evaporation of time. We take bathroom breaks. We eat. We stretch or go for a quick walk. All good. All required. All leading to the evaporation of time.
In our bootcamp session on Friday we talked about charging the appropriate rate, as a freelancer. And that most people undercharge, particularly at the beginning. They forget about evaporation; about the interruptions, the distractions, the ego and our own fears, all of which sabotage our best intended schedules.
Whether you’re a freelancer or not, I believe one of the reasons we’re all “so busy” is because we assume our work takes place in a vacuum; a time-perfect environment in which a 90-minute task takes 90-minutes. It doesn’t it. It won’t. We don’t.
You can regain some sanity in your life by creating buffers between your tasks. By appreciating that we don’t work in time-vacuums, and that a few top priority tasks done well (with proper time built in for reflection and creativity) will get us a lot further ahead in life than checking boxes and scrambling from one task to the next. It might just help with your blood pressure, too.
Other great books on focus and prioritization: