Time Well Spent

A question that’s always worth asking yourself: is the time I’m spending doing a particular task or activity well spent? Is it adding value to you or to your business in some way? Before you start work on something, ask yourself the question. In the middle of working on something, pause and ask yourself the question. When you’ve left a meeting, reflect and ask yourself the question. Was it time well spent? If it wasn’t, try and make a change.

Meetings, especially infinitely recurring ones, are a really good test of time well spent. Meetings are typically scheduled for a minimum of 30 minutes, but more often for 60 minutes simply because that’s what Google or Microsoft have decided is the correct default. Parkinson’s Law means that these meetings will last as long as they’re scheduled for, irrespective of whether that is time well spent. It’s probably true that most meetings are not time well spent. You can change that by running better meetings, or by not holding them in the first place. There are alternative and arguably less disruptive ways to share information and make decisions.

It’s not just meetings. It’s all too easy in our hyper-connected, always-on world to spend your time doing routine work, or tasks, that ultimately have no major benefit. Slack want you to be in Slack all day but there’s no difference between being in Slack to being in Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn all day. You’re just scrolling, channel surfing, waiting for that next dopamine hit – that “interesting article”, that hedgehog gif or an @here that, frankly, can wait until tomorrow. Or the next day. It’s a procrastination drug, a day-long meeting that everyone is participating in. Try turning it off for a while, consume in digests and try and ignore the FOMO.

Just don’t be too hard on yourself. I’ve been writing for twenty minutes and I’m now questioning the value. On reflection the writing practice is good, and maybe the three readers of this blog will take something useful away from the two minutes they spent reading it. I’m calling it time well spent.

Can I check Twitter now?