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Week of 10 April 2017: Taking control of your time

Email Jim at jthompson@taii.com

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If you have been reading my musings for any length of time, you know I speak often about "spinning the invoice printer." I do it because finding ways to bring in profitable income is the primary, foundational reason for any business to exist.

Unfortunately, this is sometimes seen as being too simplistic, although it is an excellent touchstone if one loses the way.
Often, we do not take time to recalibrate the important uses of our time. I have approached this subject in this column before, but I think it is a very important one. I have also found as I get older, I have become more aware of the assumptions in my life that cause me to waste time every day.

You may have been a new hire a couple of years ago, or you may have been promoted into your current position recently. However, when you got where you are today, when you arrived, someone probably told you, "This is the way we do things." Being new on the scene, you accepted this statement and fell into line. Time went by, and although you changed some tasks, others remained in effect from force of habit.

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There is the story told (and I hope it is not true) about the workman who stood at the head of a staircase in a factory in the United Kingdom. As the story goes, he stood there for years, and no one paid much attention until finally a new human resource director came along and inquired. Allegedly, when this person's father was a young man, the stairway was being painted. They told him to stand there and tell people not to touch the wet paint. Years went by, he was mustered out at retirement, and his son got his "job." The HR director's inquiry was made nearly fifty years after the original assignment.

Now if this story is true, this father and son were the antithesis of the dynamic duo. They should get some sort of award for a docile acceptance of boredom.

We can laugh, but I will bet you have tasks, if viewed by a critical eye, that would appear nearly as ludicrous. They may include a meeting you attend regularly that does nothing toward moving your enterprise forward. They may be insane reports that no one reads, or some other habitual exercise that does nothing. My guess from anecdotal observation of myself and others is that we waste 25% - 50% of the time we tell ourselves we are working each day on things that make no difference to the outcome of our lives or our employer's business.

How do you break this pattern and recover the lost time it consumes? Challenge everything. Challenge yourself, your tasks, and those upon which others insist you participate. Nothing is really sacred, most things are just habits. Businesses that are successful have a few very good habits and a whole lot of critical introspection. Become introspective.

Be safe, and be critical of safety habits. Complacency and safety do not go together.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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