A recent survey by Right Management reported that just one in five employees take an actual lunch break. The rest eat at their desk or skip lunch completely. This came as no surprise, especially considering how busy all of the executives with whom I speak say they and their employees are.
For those who fall into that 80 percent, consistently putting heads down and plowing through the mountains of work, client meetings and financial analysis that require constant attention, few songs put it better than Pink Floyd’s “Time.”
“And then one day you find
10 years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun”
Time, as the song and the Right Management survey infers, is truly our main enemy. Everything else can be overcome. You can always work harder and longer to make more money, but you can’t recapture lost time. And it seems that even when you clear your workload in hopes of tackling some of those “important-but-not-critical” projects, something critical instantly appears to fill the space.
Over a recent dinner with a few clients, the topic of conversation turned to balancing parenthood, marriage and business leadership. Each participant chimed in with nearly the same opinion: As business gets more and more competitive, it’s imperative to fight the urge to focus solely on business at the expense of burning yourself or your team members out. You can win without killing yourself.
The consensus that evening was that no matter how quickly you move work off of your “to do” list and into the “completed” category, new work fills the void almost immediately. So why work at a breakneck pace to just get more of the same?
To me, at least, it seems time’s often unspoken value is suddenly gaining a voice. Work-life balance used to be a platitude for most entrepreneurs and executives, but the more people I speak with the more I realize it is becoming something of a sanity check.
Getting a better handle on how each of us spends our valuable time is critical to not just our ability to have successful businesses but also successful personal lives.
I’ve said it several times this year and it’s worth repeating again — the dynamics of the business world have changed. We are all doing more with less and growing our respective businesses through innovation, ingenuity and sweat equity rather than simply throwing money at expanded resources. This is our new business paradigm. And sadly, it doesn’t include more time.
Dustin Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business Network Inc.