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Spending Time vs. Investing Time

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

Assessing Your Return on Time (ROT)

There is a constant pendulum swing with regards to the abundance and scarcity of resources. Companies and leaders react, redirect and reapproach to continue growth and profitability on resources. But there’s one resource that even the greatest CEO can’t figure out how to make more abundant.

That resource is time.

Time is a valuable asset when we have enough of it, and a draining obstacle when we don’t. How is it that some leaders are thriving amidst the confines of a 24-hour day, and others feel they’re on a speed train they aren’t in the driver’s seat of?

The Scarcity of Time

Our recurring work with executives on their time management dilemmas has led us to develop a time modelling tool and share best practices. Many leaders are finding themselves in a stalemate as their board, employees, and family need more of them, but they are constrained by the ability to give more, particularly time and energy. Time is a scarce and precious commodity that demands expert leadership and management.

As we’re heading into speculated recessionary conditions, leaders are experiencing some of the most demanding mandates of their career. I am often asked about the challenge of how they can fit more in when they’re working against the constriction of time. Time management, an important facet of leadership operating skills, is one of the most highly prioritized items on our client’s action plans. If you aren’t prioritizing, planning and using good time management, you likely aren’t achieving your best results.

The root of time management is answered in a very simple question: “Are you spending time, or investing time?”

Habits That Hold Us Back

Spending time includes your morning ritual, planning, commute and, of course, meetings during the work day. Investing time is what you do to build and execute goals, and where you will see your highest return on time.

Our data and work is telling us that leaders are consistently being asked to do more with no additional capacity within themselves, their teams, or hours in a day.

To say yes to something new, you have to say no to something else.

Growth isn't always about adding, it can be about subtracting - Lisa W. Haydon

Our work with a CEO helped create a breakthrough in his time management challenges, when he and his team needed to be in growth mode. He was driven in his pursuit of growth for this technology company, but his time and energy were scarce. He needed to re-energize and reallocate his time to realize the results he, and everyone else, wanted to realize. His leadership diagnostic and calendar portrayed the trouble he was in, as well as the action plan to change the current situation.

In our evaluation, we saw an introverted CEO who was functioning as an extrovert. Every hour of his day was spent in back to back meetings, and he was becoming depleted. Once the problems were prioritized, his action plan focused on his calendar, and working differently with his underutilized EA. The two of them worked together on strategy planning, and putting a communication out to his team. They created the change and time to get him the white space and energy he needed to realize his next level of leadership performance.

The change plan also included the CEO shifting the accountability of meeting planning for his leaders. Now, there would be a meeting agenda that needed to be presented to him 12 hours before the meeting. If the agenda didn’t arrive, he would cancel the meeting. The team started showing up more prepared and began optimizing everyone’s time. It changed the perception and value of time with the CEO.

Assessing Time and Decision Making

We take our clients through a DERMIA decision making model, focusing on the goals of the company, the decisions around the calendar, and changes that need to be implemented. Time allocation is evaluated and changed with DERMIA. Reallocation of your time is achieved when you:

Time is our most valuable commodity. We can't make more of it. We can choose to invest strategically and manage it tactically. We all start with the same number of hours to invest: 120 hours/week.

The persistence of these time challenges propelled us to build a tool to help our clients evaluate and assess their time and investment for both life and work.

Modelling Your Return on Time

Time management is such an important and persistent problem for leaders and their teams. We’ve built a tool to support assessment and creating change. Our Time Modelling tool will take you through assessing how you currently spend your time, and help you plan how you should invest your time.

How would you feel about a work week that look like this: