When was the last time you watched the sun come up? It’s a beautiful experience, watching the big of light emerge over the horizon. You might even call it awe inspiring. You can also call it a productivity trap.
The problem is that it takes a while for the sun to come up. You’ll probably spend more time in the dark than you expected. While you’re waiting for the sun to show up, you can’t do other things.
I’m not knocking nature but right now I can’t make the daily investment in time to make sure the sun rises. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to see it come up and go down without a care in the world. But in today’s complex, ever changing business world, watching a sunrise is a luxury.
The time spent watching a sunrise can be spent getting some extra sleep or going to the gym. These investments of time will provide me with a tangible return. If I need proof that the sun rises in the east, I can Google a picture or watch a YouTube video. It’s not the greatest substitute for seeing it with my own eyes but the cost of seeing it live means that I have to give up something else.
In your organization, do you have people doing the equivalent of watching the sunrise? These are enjoyable activities that are not essential for your success.
Perhaps you have employees who take 30 minutes every day to “warm up.” This is time spent fixing coffee and chatting with colleagues. It’s fun but if you add up all that time over a year, it’s equal to more than 16 days. Is it any surprise that people tell you that they don’t have enough time to get things done?
To Clear the Path of time eating sunrises, consider these actions steps:
Is It Essential? What would happen if you had to remove the activity? It might be missed but it might not be essential.
You may enjoy using an abacus to count but a calculator or a computer can get the job done much faster. Sticking with an old but enjoyable task can be costly.
What’s the Outcome? You may like to do certain things but that doesn’t mean they are productive tasks. I like watching TV more than I like paying bills but one process keeps the lights on and the water flowing in my home.
Will the Sun Rise Tomorrow? Certain opportunities are worth pursuing but in moderation. Maybe one day a week, you do that nonproductive activity as it could be something that inspires creativity.
The key is to understand when it’s appropriate to watch the sun come up. You may not be able to witness it today but you can be fairly sure the process will repeat itself in 24 hours. Things that happen frequently can be skipped.
Bottom Line: A key to workplace productivity is understanding the tasks that eat up a lot of your time without much productivity to show for them. They may be beautiful activities but not essential ones.