Stop Looking for More Time and Use What You Have

At some point every year, I lose my voice for a few days. Because my job is to communicate company strategy and keep my team motivated, it’s a tricky problem. I have to choose every word carefully because too much small talk could extend my speechlessness.

But instead of wishing I had my voice back, I work efficiently with what I have. The same can be said for time. All executives crave more time, but not all of us use the time we already have efficiently.

Obstacles and Time Stealers

If you’re anything like me, you love work but not all the structural maintenance that surrounds it. Some processes, for example, drive me nuts. Why do 56 percent of common HR activities require approval from the HR department? I understand that approving purchase orders, invoices, and vacation days takes time to manage, but why so much time? You’re usually giving a yes or no answer to these questions, but the red tape sometimes makes it feel like you’re using nuclear launch codes.

The rigidity of these structures is their undoing. Efficient work is about getting things done — often in the moment. And the processes in and away from your office should reflect that.

If you complain about not having enough time, fix it. If you’re the leader, you shouldn’t allow a structure that steals your time.

Make It About Moments

The toughest business to run is “running” a family — you never know what drama will happen next with one of the kids. A bleeding knee, a lost toy, a nasty breakup? No matter what, caring parents always find that magical moment when time seems to stand still and the only thing that matters is taking care of a loved one. So when you’re short on time, make it about those magical moments that really matter:

  1. Moments of Yes

Questions with one-word answers shouldn’t require entire emails. If someone needs to sign off on something, let that person give approval or denial with a single smartphone tap. You’ll eliminate thousands of hours in wasted time by simply going mobile and avoiding a cumbersome system.

  1. Moments of Reach

My job is to communicate with everyone in the organization, and when my lines of communication shut down, it inhibits my ability to function. If not everyone has access to the same lines of communication — for instance, if many employees work remotely — that task is even more laborious. Without clear lines of communication, the whole system bogs down.

Today, reach is no longer an issue. You can reach everyone where they always are: on their smartphones. Turn your announcements, instructions, and processes into mobile moments, and you’ll save countless hours while keeping everyone informed.

  1. Moments of Truth

Business is about information. Communicating key figures such as the forecast, inventory, or any other metrics should be as easy as reading about last night’s game.

Turn those key figures into moments of truth on your smartphone, saving people hours of digging through emails or staring at that huge dashboard with overwhelming information.

  1. Moments of Productivity

None of this is really magic; it’s all about empowerment and engagement. If you’re short on time, don’t look for more. Use the time you do have more productively. Turning all your approvals, communications, and key figures into small magical moments cuts wasted hours and boosts productivity — leaving time for the things you care about most, whether that’s an extra brainstorming session or an extra hour with the kids.

Always ask yourself, “If I had just one more moment, how would I make that moment count?”


photo credit: Onehundred and eightynine via photopin (license)

Tips To Make Time For Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement: individual’s investment of wisdom, skills, energies, creativity and time in the work assigned.

This is the last of 5 articles exploring specifics of employee engagement. We’ve examined WisdomSkills, Energies and Creativity. Using Time as a factor in employee engagement is more than merely “time management.” Let’s see how.

What Time Means (Definition)

Concerning “work,” Time is the limited period or interval (of minutes, hours, days, etc.) between two successive events and considered distinct from other periods. We think of work in terms of time required: a day, a week, a quarter. And we know time in terms of deadlines: by tomorrow, by next week, by the end of this quarter. We frame work by time: how long it will take (projected) and how long it actually took (expended).

What Time Brings (Value)

We’re referring to the value of engaged time: time in which individuals actively invest themselves and their wisdom, skills, energies and creativity. When employees engage time rather than compete with time, wrestle time, feel pressured or oppressed by time, then their work and its outcomes are of greater quality. Here are some specifics.

Savor Time. Some approach time as the determinant of how much, how fast, or how long for the task at hand. Some who savor time are more constructive in what they bring to their jobs and their company. These view an assignment through the lens of what they may do, what they can complete, what they will contribute. These individuals savor the work and therefore the time they spend engaged in their work.

Making Time Work. This is not “time management.” Time management holds that there’s not (ever) enough time. That creates a hardship mindset from the start. Approaching an activity and viewing time as an ally allows more energy and creativity for the work. Viewing time as a raw material, chunks of which are available to use, makes time a workable partner in the effort.

Stronger Self. Chasing time—or being chased by time’s shortage—draws on one’s energies: physical, mental and emotional. That reduces one’s sense of strength, ability to function, confidence, even self-worth. When one feels that time is her creation with which to work, a resource he makes available when he needs it, those personal strengths are held in greater supply, more readily available to boost one’s engagement.

How To Bring On Time (Actions)

Incorporate Self-time. Both individuals and corporate culture need to respect the value of self-time: time in which the employee frees herself physically, mentally and emotionally from the job. This can and should occur in a variety of ways. Self-time can be 5 minutes up and away from the desk, breathing deeply, and repeating an affirmation. Self-time may be a commitment to making the time between 11:30 and 12:30 non-working lunch time. Self-time may be the carefully built habit of not performing any aspect of work after a certain p.m. time; it may be that zero work is ever taken home.

De-meet Time. Many—likely an increasing number of—business days are riddled with meetings. There is likely truth to the belief that the value of meetings is in inverse proportion to the number of meetings. IOW: the more meetings, the less their value. The company can de-meet-ify itself by discouraging meetings and encouraging conversations and communications in less time-/energy-consuming ways. I’ll bet there will be minimal resistance from employees.

Experience Time. Take a new look at time. Post time-thought questions such as: What were your most valuable 10 minutes today? What time of day are you most productive? Do you schedule time for interruptions? How much time do you devote to planning your time? These will result in meaningful answers. They will also produce meaningful thought about time and what time means. That will lead to employees thinking about how they engage their time.

This and the previous 4 articles explored these engagement factors:

Any one factor will improve your business’s employee engagement. Any combination will increase it even more.

About the Author: Tim Wright is professional speaker/coach/facilitator with expertise in employee engagement and culture improvement.

photo credit: [Void Of Time] via photopin (license)

6 Ticks To Better Time Engagement

Let’s replace “time management” with time engagement. Time is a C.O.R.E.* resource for successful employee engagement. We want employees to invest time in their work assignments. We also want them to engage in the most effective, energetic, and enjoyable use of time. If they do that, they’re more likely to be engaged. Time engagement beats time management hands down. Three reasons:

  1. The attempt to manage time creates a competition. Like taming a lion or repairing a lawn mower. Engaging time, on the other hand, is partnering with a resource, allowing it to support (rather than control) our efforts to succeed.
  2. The reason for time management is our belief we do not have enough time. Time engagement maximizes our interaction with time, sort of like dancing. Rather than seeing time as limited and forcing us to squeeze as much out of it (or into it) as we can, we engage time by making it available as much as we need.
  3. Time management conditions us to deadlines and to working against them. Time engagement frees us to see time as a guideline for our daily operations. With time engagement we rarely sense “have to”, as in have to stop, have to hurry, have to finish.

Merely citing differences between time engagement and time management takes us only so far. More beneficial are testing and applying practices that generate time engagement in the workplace. First, positive change to time engagement requires discarding time management behaviors.

Don’t Waste Time Estimating Time.

Most time management practices have you plan how long a task or project will require. That imposes stress from the get-go because you’re automatically working against a deadline. As well, it takes time to calculate how much time you’ll need. Seems a waste of time in itself.

Don’t Work Past Being Productive.

Once your personal production level has fallen too far, you’re wasting time. Now’s the time to stop, move on to another task, or take a break. Do not allow yourself to work for the sake of putting in the time but not reaping full rewards.

Don’t Allow What’s Comfortable to Replace What’s Effective.

It’s so easy to opt for the feel-good activities, especially when the should-do tasks are more strenuous. Focusing on producing an effect results in a longer lasting, more rewarding “feel good” than does working on what’s comfortable.

Managers can open frequent conversations, inviting individuals’ examples, to demonstrate the power of letting go of such practices.

Now, with what do we replace those? These positive Do’s can hasten your organization’s Time Engagement:

Time Engagement: Do Prioritize Tasks/Projects.

Imagine Time Engagement

Encourage the practice of prioritizing the items on your to-do list. There are meetings and calls that have fixed times. Your time engagement with everything else is determined by when it is to be finished, or more truly when you want to it finished. When you set the priorities for all the tasks and projects on the plate, you allow yourself to engage with less stress and greater enthusiasm. [Feel free to substitute “your employees”.]

Time Engagement: Do Work with Chunks of Time.

Build the habit for you and your employees of “chunking time.” Define a period — a chunk — of time for which you will work on a project. At the end of that time, stop…at least for a few moments. Depending upon your energy level, your momentum, your enthusiasm, you may decide to begin another chunk on that same project. You may decide to move on to something else, with a chunk of its own. Chunking replaces “I must be finished by…” with “I am free to work until…”. Work performed in time chunks is more productive and more pleasant; it is free of the hurry-up stress that accompanies running out of time.

Time Engagement: Do Take Breaks to Re-energize.

Make breaks part of the work culture. These may be coffee breaks, talk-on-the-phone breaks, plug-in-the-iPod breaks, whatever-it-takes breaks to restore the energy, the effectiveness, the efficiency that go with time engagement. Let employees know know that 10 minutes away from work are a dynamite investment if one returns from 60% initiative with 80%-90%-100% initiative. Taking a break doesn’t mean breaking the engagement. In fact, it can make engagement even more attractive.

Time engagement reflects employee engagement while it generates employee engagement. Valuing the resource of time and the resourcefulness of time engagement can be a double win for the business that wants more engagement.

*C.O.R.E. stands for Communication, Opportunity, Resources, and Engagement (by managers/leaders). These are critical factors that contribute to a work culture that stimulates employee engagement.

(About the Author: As an Employee Engagement and Performance Improvement expert, Tim Wright, has worked with businesses and national associations of all sizes. His company, Wright Results, offers proven strategies and techniques to help businesses increase employee engagement, improve personnel performance and build a strong business culture by focusing on performance management from the C.O.R.E. For more information, visit or connect with Tim here:

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