Running out of time, or time to think differently?

Time is becoming a problem again, it seems. Not really time itself, more the lack of it.

And, it was not just me noticing this, this week other people were reporting the same observation too. Things are getting busy.

It is all too familiar. You have a list of things that you need to do and all progresses well at the start of the week. But, by Friday (and earlier sometimes), you suddenly realize that not everything is going to be done, you are running out of runway on the week and some of the list is going to have to get carried forward to the following week. It is frustrating.

The same dynamics seem to happen just before a vacation too. The mad rush to get everything done, to have a week off, followed by a mad rush to get caught up again when you get back…. it can be all very stressful, sometimes feeling you need a holiday just to recover from taking a holiday.

All cake no filling

Of course in the world of business, it is money, rather than holiday, that is a key driver. Getting stuff done helps generate revenue and controlling spend reduces cost, all to maximize profit. The bigger the difference the better goes the thinking.

This approach is dominant in everyday decisions and no where more so than in areas for investment. “Can I get a good price?”; “Is there a cheaper supplier I can use?”; “Can we shave features off to save money”… all without noticing any impact on quality of course!

Vendors, often do their best and try to react, often offering lowering prices to get the work. It can cut into margins, forcing them to then drive economies themselves; reducing work detail, time dedicated to a project or spending less on finishing touches. It can sometimes be a false economy.

We all seem to know of projects/implementations that have gone live without reporting, controls, or features, that with hindsight would have added value… we often get just enough, no more. Sometimes it feels all we get to eat is the cake, without the icing (or the filling for that matter).

Time is money or is money, time?

But is money for investment really the limiting factor here? Money can after all be printed, borrowed or diverted from other projects to deliver the funds you need. Money however is a common currency, one we can use to trade time and resources and get stuff done.

Time is a different matter. More time cannot be created. We can borrow time, by getting others to help, but their time is limited too. It is fixed, there are only so many hours in the day, days in the year, and years in a lifetime.

Thinking about projects differently

So may be we have everything back to front. Time, rather than money, is the fundamental resource, limiting factor and universal currency instead. Time is what we really have to manage closely to get stuff done.

So bringing all this back to the problem of the week, the mad Friday dash to get things done…

Could it be we need to think differently about our week, not thinking just in terms of financial efficiency, but focusing on time instead. Using the same rigor and zeal we have for financial control, but this time on time. (Is time accounting a thing? maybe it could be!)

As a fundamental driver of value, getting the timing right will mean more projects on deadline, faster delivery, better features and likely more money too… not to mention getting everything done by Friday! One to think about this week.

Other stories this week

Have a good week everyone

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