Where Does Your Time At Work Go?


How many of these things would you do?

Buy two cases of fresh produce, then leave town on week-long trip.

Turn all the lights on in your house/apartment, then go out for the day.

Flush $100 down the toilet.

None.  Of course.  They’re wasteful.   It’s obvious.

But think of the waste that we put up with at work.

Do we safeguard our time the way we safeguard our money?

No way.

We’ve managed to invent all of these tools to help streamline operations (six sigma, process improvement to name two) to make things “leaner”.   Why don’t we put ourselves under the same microscope?

Take meetings.  (Wouldn’t you love to have someone take your meetings?!)

There’s not just the time in the meeting–which may  or may not be productive.  There’s all the meetings needed to prep for the meeting.

In a staggeringly scary HBR post, three consultants from Bain tracked the Outlook calendars of employees at a large company, and determined that the weekly executive committee meeting took up 300,000 hours of time a year.  

Maybe we could take a page from Lenovo’s playbook, where employees are encouraged to raise a hand and stop a meeting that’s veered off track, much in the same way an employee on the assembly line at Toyota is empowered to stop the production line if they see a problem.

Bain recently reported that managers spend 15% of their time in meetings, which has increased annually  since 2008.

How much time do you spend meeting? And what return are you getting?  Do any  of these look familiar:

  • No agendas: What are we here to do?
  • Poorly run:  What tangent do I have to listen to?
  • No boundaries:  People stumble in, and we start 15 minutes late.  We also end late, too.
  • Presenteeism:  People are meeting, but doing other things during the meeting.  (Probably  trying to get some work done!)

Time is finite.  You get 168 hours a week.  That’s it.

What can you do to make sure it doesn’t get flushed away?

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