A ‘waste of time’ is in the eye of the beholder

Woman juggling clocks

What is ‘a waste of time’ and who decides?

I went to an interesting workshop this week about ‘achieving more for less.’ A catchy phrase for efficiency and effectiveness and how to waste less time. Big trend that one in business as I am sure you have noticed, and sometimes a short term myopic one.

As someone who works pretty expediently thanks to a super organised family gene, a portfolio career + Stephen Covey’s book ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’ being the closest I get to a bible, I was very hungry to gobble up more tips.

I remember having a battle with a home/office organiser who I commissioned to ‘sort me out’ when I moved from London to Oxfordshire 7 years ago. Apparently unbeknown to me, I had a very ‘creative’ filing system = new insight!

Super office organiser tried to browbeat me into having a big household bin near to the back door so I wouldn’t have far to take it to the dustbin and not empty it very often. No. No no no. I dug my heels in and we had a standoff.

I was really frustrated that she didn’t take time to ask me questions and understand my needs but instead imposed her map of the bin and rubbish emptying world onto me. I explained that I preferred a smaller bin that was emptied more often located further away from the back door so that:

a) I didn’t trip over it and end up in A&E
b) It was less likely to smell as it was emptied more often
c) I had more trips to the dustbin = exercise & escaping from my PC.

She acquiesced. I was the client after all.

So ‘a waste of time’ IS in the eye of the beholder and stakeholder. The currencies of ‘waste’ are diverse aren’t they? Money, time, energy, sleep, thinking, relaxation, chat, rubbish et al.

A lot of other things have benefits when another person e.g. your boss might perceive it as ‘a waste of time’. My afternoon naps aren’t a waste of time; they make me more productive afterwards.

Creatives need space, percolation and varied stimulus to spark off an award winning idea. Others observing them might think they are doing nothing but a lot of chewing pencils, staring into space and drinking wine and coffee.

I spend a lot of time thinking, reading & writing sitting on trains = very productive. E.g. I chose to go to St Austell recently for its 11 hour return journey for thinking and planning and to hit some key deadlines.

So what time are you wasting or is it just how you or others are perceiving it?
What 1 change would make all the difference for you?

One change I am going to make following the workshop is halving the amount of reading I optimistically take to London, fail to read and lug around before bringing it back. But then again, maybe I won’t because it’s an alternative to weights in the gym.

So what is the moral of this story and is there one? I guess it goes back to good old marketing principles – find out your client’s needs and don’t make assumptions.

If you would like a free copy of:

‘How to do absolutely nothing’ (which I might re-name)
‘Addiction to busyness’
‘The danger of making assumptions’

e mail me at rachel@liberateyourtalent.com

PS We do gift vouchers which make a practical and thoughtful Christmas present. Please ask for details.

For more insights and tips, follow us on twitter:

Finally if you are twiddling your thumbs today, I found this web site sharing links to Pointless sites so you can waste some time.

About Energise - The Talent Liberation Company

Talent liberator - career change, executive coaching and employee engagement. PS Love writing too and write many articles. Background in marketing and brand strategy and communication and unusual analytical and lateral brain - great for new career directions and ideas!
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