Gini Dietrich

Time Management: A Challenge to Make You More Productive

By: Gini Dietrich | January 13, 2014 | 

Time Management: A Challenge to Make You More ProductiveBy Gini Dietrich

The new normal.

Doing more with less.

Logging 15 hours a day in the office.

Never shutting your computer down.

Working through weekends.

Having dinner with your family and then getting back on email.

Eating lunch at your desk.

Trying to figure out the elusive time management.

Do any of these sound familiar?

We are in a race to outdo one another in how busy we are and it’s harmful not only to our mental stability, but to that of our productivity and even our physical well-being.

Society Expects Us to Always Be Working

In some cases it may not be up to you.

When I began my career, I had to bill a minimum of 7.5 hours every day and put another 15-20 hours a week into new business. By the time all the administrative work (traveling, expenses, time entry, meetings) was included, I easily worked 80-100 hours a week.

It was required to get promoted and I didn’t know any differently.

Back then, email was just beginning to infiltrate businesses and you certainly didn’t have the opportunity to work from home.

So, every Saturday, I’d join the rest of my team in the office while we worked on the things we didn’t accomplish during the week.

I have very fond memories of that time with my team. We were all in it together and we had a great time. We played just as hard as we worked…and the play time was always in the office.

Our time management was rewarded based, literally, on the sheer number of hours spent in the office.

Now, when I think back on it, the bubblegum blowing contests and pulling pranks definitely could have gone away in favor of getting our work done during normal business hours.

But that wasn’t the culture and you certainly couldn’t make partner by not being in the office six days a week, even if some of that time was spent screwing around.

It was how I was trained and what I grew accustomed to. So much so, in fact, in the early days of Arment Dietrich, I expected the same of my team.

As it Turns Out, We’re All Busy

Today, of course, we’re dealing with unemployment rates that don’t seem to want to decrease (I read an article last week that said unemployment is finally down simply because people have stopped looking for jobs) and, for those who are employed, having to do the jobs of two or three people as business leaders remain skittish about the economy.

It’s a cycle and it will eventually change, but right now we’re all busy…and we’re not afraid to answer the “how are you?” question with how busy we are.

Clay Morgan sent an article around to our team that talks about this phenomenon.

In “Please Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are,Meredith Fineman uses the example of preparing to go on a date. The guy who had invited her out said he was “crashing on deadlines” and asked her to make the dinner reservation.

Never mind the fact she should have told that guy where to stick it, that behavior makes it sound like he’s so much more busy than she is and his time is way more valuable. He can’t even make a dinner reservation to impress a girl?

What is the world coming to?

We are all busy. Maybe you have a house full of young kids or you’re launching a start-up or you travel Monday through Thursday or you work for an organization like I did at the beginning of my career.

Whatever it happens to be, we all have 24 hours in our day (until Adam Toporek and I can figure out how to start auctioning off extra hours) and we all have the same amount of time to get things accomplished.

Time Management Challenge

But, here’s the deal: The longer you spend staring at your computer screen, the worse off you are. Our bodies were not built to spend 15 hours a day working.

In fact, we can really only focus on something for about an hour before our bodies and minds need a break.

During that time, we tend to wander over to Facebook or Twitter or visit one of our colleagues, but heaven forbid we go for a walk or go to the gym or even go out for lunch.

Society has become such that that is frowned upon and keeping insane office hours are what’s rewarded.

But I have a time management challenge for you.

This week, tell yourself you do not have the weekends to do any work and that you have to get it all accomplished in a mere five days.

If you’re really serious about it and don’t give yourself that extra two days, I guarantee you will get everything done because you will be focused. You won’t spend an hour on Facebook because you know you can’t make that hour up later.

Or maybe you tell yourself the computer doesn’t open after dinner. Or you’re not staying in the office past 5:30 p.m. Or you’re going to sleep in an extra hour (this is one I could use). Or you’re going to take a lunch break to exercise. Or you do something productive with that 15 minutes you have until your next meeting.

Try it. For one week.

It goes against everything we’ve been taught to believe. Certainly there is no way we can do more in fewer hours.

But not only will you get more accomplished, you’ll be less stressed, less hurried, and less harried.

And then, the next time someone asks you how you are, you can answer with, “refreshed,” or “productive,” or “fantastic.”

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Great comments. For years I was the same way and at some point in the news biz, I had to finally just set some parameters for my sanity if for no other reason. 

    Rest and recreation are just as important to productivity as hours. Even Genesis 2:2 states that on the seventh day God rested. 

    My time PLAYING with the kids, working on my stamp collection, taking a walk, or watching a movie with my wife are just as important to my productivity as is the time I actually put in working. Took me a long time to figure that one out.

  • ClayMorgan It took me a long time to figure it out, too. Our minds need a break!

  • EnMastBusiness

    ginidietrich I love this Gini. I’m talking a lot about this with folks now.

  • I love the philosophy of being held to and rewarded based on deliverables and goals accomplished as opposed to hours clocked in. Working from home has been great for me in terms of increased productivity and setting the limits you talk about in this great post. Certainly beats fighting the bad weather and traffic for 2 hours each way to get to the office and then spend another hour in the office complaining and hearing complaints about the weather and commute from colleagues to only then sit down to get started and then stressing about how many billable hours you still need to accomplish before you battle the weather again. I certainly don’t miss that.

  • ginidietrich

    EnMastBusiness I think we did what we had to to survive the Great Recession. Now it’s time to settle down.

  • LSSocialEngage Man! I don’t miss that, either! It was easily 9:30 or 10:00 before you accomplished anything. I’m with you…love the productivity working at home provides.

  • As ClayMorgan mentions, I think spending your formative years working in the media can really mess you up. I know it messed me up. Everything is frantic and frenetic. The pace is insane. And the hours are brutal. You learn that that’s *normal*, and you train yourself to work that way. It’s very difficult to change when you leave the media biz. 

    I always tell people “When you love your job, working that hard, or checking in and/or responding to things after hours isn’t really *work*” – but that’s not true, is it? It is work. And it’s time you’re not spending, as Clay says, with your family, friends, or even just with yourself. 

    Today is day one of me getting myself back on track health-wise. I am actually going to set aside some time every day to exercise. Scheduled into my day – the same way a meeting would be. It’s important, and I didn’t realize just HOW important until these last few weeks. I began to get depressed, and unhappy with ‘myself’. Just feeling like a slobby slug. And that’s not good for anyone. So, great article ginidietrich – and thanks for being a boss who actively encourages her staff to look after themselves. Wish me luck! 😉

  • belllindsay When I first started on this quest, I scheduled exercise time. Then it eventually became a habit and I sometimes yell at Jess for booking me so solid, I don’t have time for a break. It will become habit and I will be here cheering you along!

  • belllindsay ClayMorgan ginidietrich Best of luck Lindsay! You can do it! Exercise in the day certainly makes me more productive and definitely refreshed.

  • LSSocialEngage belllindsay ClayMorgan ginidietrich  The biggest thing I’m missing this winter is *walking*!! Having never had a dog before, I can’t believe how much I enjoyed and benefitted from those hour long walks with Hank. The weird weather this winter, so much ICE, has really made walking with him difficult if not downright dangerous! Winter can’t be over soon enough for me!

  • belllindsay ClayMorgan ginidietrich I’m not sure it has much to do with the industry so much as it has to do with the model.

    Law is the exact same way Lindsay – in terms of the expectations at law firms. The expectation was that wou billed a minimum of 2200-2400 hours a year. And since not every hour you were at work was billable, the result is ridiculous hours worked, a high burnout rate, explosive suicide ratesd compared to other industries and the worst job satisfaction rate of any industry I’ve ever seen.

  • belllindsay LSSocialEngage ClayMorgan ginidietrich Weird winter? Hello, understatement. Lindsay make it end already pleeeaaseee! I’ll pay you 🙂

  • ginidietrich I wish my new UP band would hurry up and get here! LOL

  • This post ties in perfectly with Laura Petrolino’s contribution to The Three Things re: habit. Heaven knows I have my share of bad habits reinforced over the years, but it really is all about choice.

    Like  belllindsayand ClayMorgan, I’ve certainly trained myself to work rapid-fire, and as I’m slowly learning, it has a definite human cost. Time management has always been difficult for me. My mind switches gears so quickly (SQURREL!), I get overwhelmed — and it stinks.  For me, buckling down and setting firm self-imposed deadlines is an important first step.

  • belllindsay I hope it’s not green!

  • jasonkonopinski And, I would say for you, focus. I know it’s one of your goals this year. So we’ll keep reminding you. Focus, focus, focus.

  • ginidietrich It better NOT BE! LOL

  • I admit I’m guilty of quite a few items on ginidietrich’s list. I’ve been trying to do a better job of this lately after my daughter made the comment that I’m always working on my MacBook. After that I decided to halt whatever I’m working on to spend time with my daughter because that’s what is most important. Work can wait. Working from home would be a dream come true for me. I can’t imagine what that would be like to just get up and boot up my computer and get to work. I’m sure that it has pros and cons, but it’s a heck of a lot better than commuting to work.

  • belllindsay True Lindsay. Unfortunately when we are in our 20s, we imagine ourselves as super humans. Later, we start “paying” for not taking care of us and our health. 
    The tricky thing is that without health you cannot be near productive, nor anything else. The sooner we learn that being healthy, exercising on a regular basis (it´s on my this year list) and taking time for ouselves to simply enjoy life, the better professionals and humans will be.

  • belllindsay True Lindsay. Unfortunately when we are in our 20s, we imagine ourselves as super humans. Later, we start “paying” for not taking care of us and our health. 
    The tricky thing is that without health you cannot be near productive, nor anything else. The sooner we learn that being healthy, exercising on a regular basis (it´s on my this year list) and taking time for ouselves to simply enjoy life, the better professionals and humans will be.

  • I worked with a girl at my first “real” job in Chicago who told me that “if you can’t get your job done in 40 hours, you either have too much work or you’re not good at what you do” and I think there’s some truth to that. I have pretty much stopped working after hours and on the weekends unless something critical comes up. Instead, I’m spending time with the family, recharging my batteries and devoting time to my personal blogs. It’s not that I’m not passionate but I’ve found it makes me SO much fresher for our clients.

  • I’m commenting from Ireland – and this post is just as true for Dublin, as it is for cities in the US.  Since the recession here, the length of my working week has definitely increased (and it had been quite hefty prior to that!).  Clients now expect you to do a lot more with a lot less, and there’s a reluctance to say ‘no’ to any request, as the climate doesn’t permit turning down any business. 

    What rang most true for me here was the assertion that “We’re all busy”.  It seems people are in competition all the time now about who is the most over-worked, the most stressed, the most pressed for time… And lots of people I know seem to take pride in coming first in that competition, rather than realising they could be spending their time in better ways.

  • belllindsay ClayMorgan ginidietrich That first paragraph I could fill in the word ‘politics’ for ‘media’ and it will be exactly the same. And I agree….I spend the first part of my career learning to feel guilty if everything I was doing wasn’t in someway work related….especially if you are a bit type A to begin with, it’s a hard mold to break out of

  • LauraPetrolino belllindsay ClayMorgan ginidietrich …..a BIT Type A…??????

  • @jason_ ginidietrich Jason, I get more done between the hours of 5:30 am and noon than I ever did in a full day at the office. Not that work stops at noon, wouldn’t that be nice! But you catch my drift….

  • On the mark as always Gini. This is an issue that so many of my clients need assistance with.
    As someone noted, it is a choice, so its important to understand why we are making that choice then we can change that choice/pattern.  As Gini did, actually schedule time into your calendar.  If it’s in your calendar, you’ll do it.  Another step for success is begin to make change by taking small steps.  We often fail at change because we go all or nothing…..Success is a vision achieved one step at time.  Here’s to more balanced lives!

  • As much as we don’t want to admit it, we have limits. We can’t keep working and working without breaks. We can’t skip exercise, time with our family and friends, walks in the woods and expect to keep functioning at a high level. It just doesn’t work that way.

    It sucks having limits, but it’s so much better to RECOGNIZE them and choose to live within them than to deny them and let the universe slap us in the head every few months.

  • blfarris

    ginidietrich Just left a comment and shared it on LI. Good stuff.

  • This is so timely – pun intended! I was just having a convo with a good friend about this yesterday…one of the “a-ha” moments we had was that maybe our (collective) desire to be busy is not only about our desire to be productive, but maybe it’s a little bit about our desire to be relevant or important?  Seriously, how many people will be threatened if that email goes out Monday morning versus Saturday or Sunday?  But, it sure makes us feel important to “have” to deal work during off-hours, right?

    Theoretically, all this amazing technology should enable us to do more in less time, allowing us to enjoy more family/personal/leisure/recreation/what-have-you time.  Our current culture demands that because we CAN work longer hours, we should.  My guess is that productivity would likely increase if we approached our work in the manner you’re suggesting…think I’ll give it a try! 😉

  • LauraPetrolino belllindsay ClayMorgan ginidietrich Ditto! 🙂

  • ginidietrich This post really speaks to me due to the fact that I am kind of dragging this Monday morning. Need some inspiration; need a pick me up!  It seems like in every interview, they tell you “don’t think this is some 9-5 job.” In so many industries, it has become cool to stay late and be the one who just doesn’t have time to go out for lunch. If I was a boss, I certainty wouldn’t be setting that example for my team. But too often it goes on, and it needs to change. We need to truly a time management strategy.

    Just my perspective as a 20 something year old trying to figure out the professional world 🙂

  • I totally agree. HOWEVER, let me say this. Back when I was in a PR firm and even today now that I’m on my own, if I had an evening or weekend obligation, it would cause me more stress—I’ve got to get everything done by 5!
    On the other hand, when I knew I had ’til, say, 7, with no other deadline other than when I needed to eat dinner, I found it a lot less stressful. I would take a little more time to chat with a colleague. When a client called I would devote all the time and attention necessary to working through the problem without the worry of the clock ticking away. And yeah, I’d take a break to read the news, talk with a friend or whatever.
    So which is more stressful and bad for you? 12 hours of work at a 80% or 8 hours of work at 100%? (Obviously, this model doesn’t work so well if you have a family.)

  • This post definitely hit home with me, for a number of reasons. Two of those reasons are 1) the heartfelt email I got from my 17  year old a few weeks back that said “I know your blog and all are important but you’re always on your computer” and 2) hubs last night saying “you’re always on the computer and you never watch tv with me (never mind that I’ve never been a big tv watcher). But it’s so much more than that …. I know there’s an imbalance between the joy I feel doing all of the “extra” (i.e. non day job) stuff and the inertia I feel at the day job. I’m really surprised no one in my inner circle hasn’t tattooed “leap and the net will appear” on some body part while I’m asleep (and I know – who could sleep through a tattoo but stay with me here!). // On a fairly separate note – yes yes yes to the exercise. I commented along these lines on the three things yesterday. My exercise approach contains some pretty unorthodox approaches and you’d think I would be lithe and my body fat would be a lot lower for all of the work I do, almost all of it documented on social media. Although the physical results aren’t always what I would hope, I know I’m better off than I would be without the exercise. AND it’s providing a lifeline while almost everything else is swirling around in a whorl of uncertainty. Thx for sharing this piece, Gini!

  • @jason_ It definitely has its pros and cons, but it’s for sure better than a commute. You can get a good two hours of productive time in that same timeframe. Only problem? Sometimes you don’t get out of your PJs until late afternoon.

  • belllindsay I’ve often considered allowing those of us who work that early to cut out early…but haven’t figured out the client side of things yet.

  • ginidietrich

    blfarris Thank you!

  • Standing up and applauding! 

    Wasn’t there an NYT article about this awhile back too? I think it was called “The Busy Trap”. Our society has become obsessed with “busy” and it sucks. 

    That’s why, one of my guiding principles this year is to “rest well”. I work much better when I’m rested. Forcing myself to work more means I’m less productive. However, it’s really hard to unlearn that. And, when you’re in the industry we’re in, you’re rewarded for numbers of hours and being “always on.” 

    I think this mentality has to start at the top. It’s about developing a company culture that’s more interested in productivity and well being than hours. You’re doing that. I hope other companies follow suit.

  • OHIO (Only Handle it Once) has been one of the most crucial strategies for myself.

  • AnneReuss

    lauraclick *Follows suit, stands up and applauds next to you* 

    This really spoke to me ginidietrich. 

    Though as someone who hasn’t experienced the coroporate world/a high demand for hours, I already have seen the benefits of exercising, unplugging on the weekends, etc – so I’m already attached to having a good time management schedule. 

    But yes, there is a problem with society, because seeing how hard some of you work with great success, I wonder how do you determine what’s too much work and what’s not enough work? Sometimes I feel I should be putting in MORE hours on the computer but it’s rough to do. 

    Nonetheless thanks for setting such a great example for leaders!

  • If you run an B2C social communities it is hard taking weekends off. All depends on the business. But are correct. In the mid-90’s Microsoft was the number 1 company to work for. They worked 18 hour days 6 days a week and half days on Sundays. You would go to the movies with the team during work hours, play pranks, go bowling, all so that they keep you for 18 hours. 

    I always was good at this until the current work from home with little kid while managing social media era in my life. If I knew I had 6 hours of work and you were interrupting the flow I was pissed. I wanted my time to be my time…not mine/yours/thecompany’s time. 

    I also know many people find work an escape because they hate their home life. Fine. I get it. BUT DON’T RUIN MY FREE TIME…just because yours sucks.

  • We need to truly **value a time management strategy. I told you guys I was dragging…

  • We are not properly measuring or understanding our ROE (Return on exercise), we know its good for us, however since we can’t see immediate quantitative results such a (bag of $$) we tend to give it less focus or a lower priority in our day to day lives.

    I also use the argument, “when you’re laying on your death bed” [and I hope that is a long long long time from now for myself and anyone reading this], what moments will you recall with fondness, joy and love? 80-100 hour work weeks? or moments with family and friends, experiencing the wonders of the world.

  • BillSmith3

    Digital_DRK I highly agree on on both counts.

  • Digital_DRK So true!  As one colleague said to me, no one has ever put on their tombstone, I wish I had worked more hours!

  • wandawhitson  Exactly!

  • ginidietrich @jason_ Or wash your face. 😉

  • I saw a different article about being busy last week ( and I haven’t uttered that word in reference to how I am since. The truth is, this year has already started out pretty intense, but I’m looking at that intensity differently because I’ve forced myself to not use the word “busy” as a descriptor. I’m less stressed by the work I have to get done already.

    I’m okay with not taking my weekends completely off, but I do strive to have a balance that allows me to feel refreshed, productive, or fantastic. I definitely didn’t achieve that balance in 2013 and it’s a high priority in 2014. So far, so good. 🙂

  • wandawhitson From a client perspective, one of the things I always counsel my team is to prioritize a client’s needs with an A, B, or C. If the request or “urgent” need comes in after hours or on the weekends, if it’s a B or C, there is no need to respond. In many cases, we have to train those we work with to take time off, too! But, if we instantly respond, no matter the day or time, they come to expect it and that’s not good for anyone.

  • MartinaPQuinn Hello Ireland! You’re right – it has become a competition to see who is the most busy. But we all only have 24 hours in the day so, really, no one is more busy. It’s just in how we put value on our time. The guy asking the article’s author I mentioned to make a restaurant reservation is a great example of that. If a guy said that to me, I say, “Clearly your time is more important than mine so why don’t you keep crashing on those deadlines and I’ll find another date.”

  • belllindsay @jason_ Or brush your teeth.

  • KristenDaukas It DOES make you much fresher, doesn’t it? It seems strange because it’s not what we’re taught, but I definitely get more accomplished when I focus and take time to recharge.

  • ginidietrich wandawhitson That is great leadership!  Your team is fortunate to have you : )

  • blfarris Well, I don’t have limits…but you’re right for everyone else. 🙂 When we were in an office (less now because I can do this without anyone noticing), people knew if I went for a walk, I was super pissed and unfocused. I always came back with a better attitude and better focus.

    That’s why I love riding in the middle of the day. It really helps break up my day and gives me some perspective for the afternoon that I wouldn’t be able to have without that time to think.

  • wandawhitson That’s nice of you to say. Thank you. I’ve definitely fallen into the “I’m available all the time” trap. And then, when you want a few days off, you’d think the world is ending. Better to set expectations that we’re all better if we have time to recharge.

  • ginidietrich wandawhitson So true!  Errors are reduced and we work more efficiently when we are energized.  Now we just have to convince the rest of the business world!

  • wandawhitson ginidietrich We’ll get there!

  • BillSmith3

    Very well said Gini, and I think you laid out a nice road map for those to at least reclaim some balance. 

    The Japanese have a term called Karōshi which translated means death from overwork and it happened recently to a German investment banking intern working in Bank of America’s London office last Summer after working three days straight. While the majority of PR and marketing professionals won’t drop dead right away from the work demands placed on us but if we don’t take time out for ourselves and set some expectations, the job will take it’s toll on our health, family and relationships. Thing is we don’t notice until the damage has been done because crazy hours and being “on” 24/7/365 is considered the norm and in some twisted way as a badge of honour.

  • KevinVandever

    I’m with you ginidietrich, although i don’t like to think of it as a time management challenge. It’s more of living life challenge. To me, it’s not about trying to fit activities around the work schedule so I can be more productive at work. It’s about living a balanced life, complete with work, rest, family, friends, bubblegum blowing, etc. This will also help my productivity at the office, but allows me to focus on more than just that part of my existence. I worked with a guy in Chicago who was so into time management, he specifically added an entry in his calendar each night to read to his child. I didn’t want to judge, but my thought was that some things shouldn’t need to be written down or scheduled. * 

    Son: “Goodnight Daddy, will you read me a bedtime story?”
    Dad: “I’m sorry little man. It’s 7:45. I don’t have you scheduled until 9.”


    Dad: “Goodnight son!”
    Son: “Dad aren’t you going to read me a bedtime story?”
    Dad:” Hmm. I don’t see it in my calendar. I guess not. Maybe your Mother has it on her calendar.”

    * No offense to anyone who schedules time to read to his or her children in this manner. At least you’re reading to your children, and no offense to those who don’t read to their children. I’m not judging that, either. You’re probably just too busy. If that’s the case, I’ve got a blog post you should read.

  • AnneReusslauraclickginidietrichI would respond but I am busy watching Laura telling adamtoporekabout customer service on the You Tube. This is ruining my exercise time!

  • Time management must be in the air. I saw this earlier today (below)… think I’ll pair it with your post in a tweet later today. 🙂
    14 Things Successful People Do On Weekends
    –Tony Gnau

  • MatthewLiberty

    AnnieBrowne A good one indeed, Annie. Gini knows her stuff! ginidietrich

  • BillSmith3 I saw that! Dropped dead right at her desk. You have to think something else was going on, but that’s still horrible.

  • Karen_C_Wilson You haven’t uttered the word since reading that blog post? That’s awesome! It sounds like you’re on the right path to being fantastic this year. Yay!

  • I’ve been waiting to read a post like this! Thank god it’s not just me who thinks this way. 
    It’s good to hear this from an actual professional. As a youngin’, I keep thinking with fear, “Oh, god — this is my future? 15-hour workdays?!” You actually inspired me to write a post I’ve been meaning to finish, Gini. So, thanks for writing this!  🙂

  • Digital_DRK I have a really good example. There are two men in my life. They’re both the same age. One smokes and doesn’t exercise. The other races bicycles every weekend and has my entire life. The first man just had his second heart attack and has a stint in his heart. The second man doesn’t have a single health problem. Think there isn’t a return on exercise? The problem is, we may not see the return until our 60s or 70s.

  • Howie Goldfarb LOL to your last paragraph! Ha!

    There is even a way around it for B2C social media. Have more than one person handling it.

  • Randy Milanovic Talk more about this…I’m interested in what it means.

  • lauraclick And you already have a really good habit in running. It’s so good for your mental health and, I’d be willing to bet, you’re a much better counselor for your clients because of it.

  • BillSmith3

    ginidietrich BillSmith3 I had a mentor when I transitioned into PR about 7 years ago, worked for a virtual agency much like yours on a project. One thing he got across without mentioning it directly, this is an all consuming business but don’t let it consume you. He was playing catch up in the wellness department after decades of long office hours as VP of communications for a global auto parts manufacturer. When I took a running clinic back in 2009 to augment my workout routine, he thought it was the smartest thing I did.

  • AnneReuss I think there is a perception how hard some of us work with great success. I once had a debate with someone on FB who looked at my hours and thought every entrepreneur had to do that. It’s become a goal to work less hours (and so far, so good) this year. Part of the reason I work a lot of hours is I do a lot of things outside of running my business, namely writing books.

  • ginidietrich

    MatthewLiberty AnnieBrowne Thanks to both of you!


  • BillSmith3 It WAS smart. Very, very smart.

  • RobBiesenbach I’ve been thinking about this all day. I’m with you and I’m not. I totally see what you’re saying and, the more I think about it, the more I think I’m probably the same way. I certainly always make time for my team when they need something outside of scheduled meeting time. But I want to be able to shut down at 6:00 every day and not go back to it.

  • Matt_Cerms I think this mentality is going to change pretty dramatically as your generation begins to take over leadership roles. That’s one thing I love about Millennials. You can work anytime, any where. So it’s not a 9-5 job. OK. Maybe it can be a 9-3 job and then a 8-10 job. The idea that we have to be at our desks for a certain number of hours every day is becoming antiquated.

  • AnneReuss lauraclick ginidietrich I think that’s part of the problem too – we look too much at other people and think we need to keep up with them. (I know I’m guilty.) But that is so problematic. Everyone is different, so we each need to determine what’s the reasonable schedule for each of us.

  • lizreusswig My team doesn’t know this yet, but I’m seriously considering fining them for weekend emails/texts/posts in our private FB group. What do you think the fine should be?

  • biggreenpen I have a question: Do you work on your laptop next to him while he watches TV?

  • lauraclick AnneReuss EXACTLY! I don’t have kids and we don’t have any family in Chicago. So, while I have lots of friends, I’m not going out every night. I make time for cycling during the day and for cooking most nights, but other than that, I don’t have other obligations. It’d be totally different if there were little feet running around here. So it’s unfair to compare yourself to anyone else. We all have different things going on.

  • ginidietrich Randy Milanovic  Sure. I first learned it while working with a Turner Efficiency Coaching a few years back.

  • Great post, and a good opportunity to remind people that if you don’t take vacations, your staff won’t either. I spent two years living and working in London, and one of the more interesting transitions was working in an environment with 5+ weeks of mandatory vacation. Needless to say, those were the two happiest, healthiest and most productive years of my life. So take all your allotted vacation this year, and be careful of companies where the executive team wears their lack of vacation like a badge of honor.

  • JaimieField

    Parkinson’s Law:  “Work expands to fill the time allotted”.  

    If we only had to work 4 days per week as a rule, would we get it all done – you bet we would if we had something better to do on those other 3 days….

  • ginidietrich Yeah, this system currently works for me because of Karen’s commute. I get 12 hours to myself and use it all. But then after dinner I still do little stuff in front of the TV (cleaning out email, organizing stuff, etc.) I really need to cut that out and have a few hours of real downtime before bed, otherwise I’m too wound up to sleep.

  • shopnoego

    mcfaddenteaches SpinSucks Secret, you don’t manage time, only activities. Stuff get done in churchtimes

  • theredheadsaid

    Or we can have the kind of culture that doesn’t judge us by our work output!

  • Very timely post for me, too, Gini, as I have a week of both major work obligations and major life obligations ahead! Thanks for the thoughts. Sheryl Sandberg seems to espouse the same when she talks about leaving at 5, though her version does allow for working evenings and weekends sometimes. I think we can prioritize ruthlessly when we know our time really IS limited, but when we fudge a little, we end up not eliminating items that should be dropped as lower priority. 

    Reminds me of the old snooze button dilemma… if alarm clocks never were built with them, most people would be better at waking up.

  • ginidietrich It simply has to change. Productivity has many different definitions for many different people, but I don’t think it is valued. The political world is a great example. It is all about talking how busy you are, how much work you have on your plate, and who stays late in the office late to earn brownie points.

  • I think a lot of us are scared to leave at 5:30, or not open our computers on weekends, because we think somebody is going to overtake us, and then our future (with the same company or line of work that promotes these thoughts) will be put into doubt.

    I’ve worked hard the past few years to lessen the amount of time I spend working, while still getting the same amount of work done. There are days where I have to work late, but they are few and far between.

    I enjoy this saying: Work to live, don’t live to work.

  • ginidietrichHowie Goldfarbyes one client we have interns help. But I need to get some worker bees myself. Unlike MOST of my peers….well 90% of them, I do not feel scheduling posts and not ‘being there’ is being social. Which is why I really want to teach small biz how to do that since they are the ones open on the weekends.

  • theredheadsaidsadly that exists in the form of low paying low skill jobs. Now give me a job at Walmart stocking shelves for $100k with full benefits and I will jump at that! 😉

  • JodiEchakowitz

    I think this is a very timely post for all of us @ginidietrich as we look to kick off the new year (still can’t believe we’re already two weeks in!) with some new goals to guide us. 

    With having a virtual agency, our approach is certainly different from those who work in a traditional office environment. But I would love to get some insights on the time management challenge from those companies who offer flexible hours, flexible vacation time. Are employees more productive when they can come in as late as they want or leave as early as they want, or take as much (or as little) vacation time as they want – so long as their work is done? Any thoughts on this?

  • bradmarley I kind of find it difficult to get on board with the idea that working isn’t living. Maybe I’m an unrealistic idealist, but I feel like it’s possible to find work that aligns with your life and values enough that you’d keep working even if you were wealthy enough to retire. That’s my goal, anyway.

  • ginidietrich

    marleeward Hi Marlee!

  • ginidietrich

    amysept Used to be mine, too. I gave that up last year.

  • ginidietrich

    joecardillo 🙂

  • rosyblue

    Love it: Stop complaining about how busy you are and take this time management challenge via ginidietrich

  • T60Productions I’m headed over to read that now. Thanks, Tony!

  • JRHalloran I really think this way of thinking will be gone in the next 10 years. Your generation won’t stand for it…and I love that about you youngins! You understand there are many ways to work and sitting at your desk from 7-7 every day ain’t it.

  • jono.smith I used to operate that way…and then I realized how dumb that was. I like the idea of five weeks MANDATORY vacation. Sounds like something we should adapt.

  • JaimieField It’s sort of the four day work week rule, right?

  • theredheadsaid I’m trying really hard to build that kind of culture!

  • jelenawoehr Speaking of, have you seen that video on Reddit from the guy who couldn’t figure out why he was oversleeping? He set up a camera in his room and discovered his dog was turning off his alarm when it went off. Freaking hilarious!

  • RobBiesenbach Ah ha! So your mom was right! You work there so you can watch TV!

  • JodiEchakowitz I have a very productive team, though I have to push them pretty hard sometimes on not working too much. I force vacations – even a few days off – when I can tell they’re not getting enough balance. We also have unlimited vacation time. You get you stuff done, you can be off when you like.

  • bradmarley I think it’s harder for someone in a job like you have. If I were still working for a big agency, you can bet I’d be working a zillion hours a week to stay ahead. It has to come from the company’s leadership first.

  • jelenawoehr bradmarley I agree with you, Jelena. My dad likes to tell people I created a job for myself that allows me to do what I love (write). I love to write. Love. But I sometimes need a break. I go through down periods where I just don’t want to write another word…and it becomes work. And then my passion returns. So I think, even when you’re working your passion, you still need time off.

  • ginidietrich Hmmmm….how about they have to wear the sombrero AND bring the queso & margaritas!! 😉

  • ginidietrich jelenawoehr DON’T LET JB SEE IT.

  • ginidietrich bradmarley This is true. (And why is Disqus now tagging me in my own replies to people replying to me??? It didn’t do that before! Um… anyway.) However, I think for people who have work that aligns with their core values, their recreation will be similar in that sense. For instance, I love to write too, but what I do when I’m tired of writing–ride my horses–isn’t all that different in terms of what it represents to me. Writing is all about constantly tweaking and building until it’s perfect, and so is the type of horsemanship I practice. I could go on and on about the similarities in mindset, but I need to go ride a horse.

  • ginidietrich jelenawoehr bradmarley Agreed. In 2009 i was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. As I lay in my hospital bed, I had an epiphany – that I hadn’t accomplished enough yet. Charged with that realization, I fought back and won my battle, reinvented my business and launched one of the fasted growing online marketing firms in North America. Exhilarating as this has been (and continues to be), I make it a point to take at least one weekend day off and enjoy a big sudsy bubble bath. 🙂

  • amysept

    ginidietrich I was strict about it, but over the past few months those boundaries have slipped! Good reminder to get back to it 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    amysept Do it!

  • ginidietrich Once again, I’ve shared too much.

  • marleeward

    ginidietrich Hi Pretty Lady! Hope you’re staying warm. Xo

  • Don’t sell it short Gini, I think we can get that auction thing to work!

    While I never cared for that Times piece, your take on this is an approach that I think brings a lot of value.

    I know people who are busy for what seems like busy’s sake; I also know people who are legitimately just busy. Their goals, responsibilities, or both simply exceed the workable hours in a month — no matter how effective and efficient they are. 

    While a lot of short term busyness has to do with timing, I think in the long term it always comes down to tradeoffs and priorities — less money for more time, less audacious goals for more “balance”. (And I think it’s important in a forum like this to keep in mind that if you have a choice in any of this that you are very fortunate; many people do not.)

    The best thing I’ve ever seen on this topic is a NatGeo documentary called Stress: Portrait of a Killer. Pretty sure I saw it on Netflix. Can’t say it’s changed my life much in the short term, but at least I know what the goal should be.

    Now, if you can just send me this post once a month for a reminder, I’ll be all set! 🙂

  • Randy Milanovic ginidietrich Hey Randy, that’s similar to the David Allen Getting Things Done philosophy. Kudos to you if you’ve mastered it! I probably hit 70% or so handling only once… maybe.

  • Howie Goldfarb AnneReuss lauraclick ginidietrich adamtoporek Seriously Howie, exactly what else would you be doing besides that? Laura was awesome! Now, I just need to get you on there too. 🙂

  • Randy – I admire your tenacity in beating a shitty disease into submission and moving your business to the next level.
    If I owned my own business (that incorporated elements of my passions) I would probably have a different take on this topic. But in an industry where the number of hours we work is still held in such high esteem, I am almost more focused on ensuring I maintain a balance.

  • jelenawoehr That’s everyone’s goal, no? To find work that defines us? I’d love to find it. Maybe when I do my opinion will change. 🙂

  • ginidietrich Probably true. Every day when we have to enter time we are reminded, if only indirectly, how much “work” we’ve done. You know as well as I do that the person who bills 7.5 hours can do just as much as the person who bills 11. Management needs to say that it’s okay to shut it down at a normal time – especially to those who are just entering the workforce. A work life balance is important, even if you have no other commitments. That’s my thought.

  • Mostly I do.

  • Randy Milanovic ginidietrich bradmarley Well done! I always read those “what people regret on their deathbeds” stories and they’re always all about “nobody regrets not spending more time at work,” and I’m over here like “DAMN STRAIGHT I WOULD REGRET THAT IF I HADN’T ACCOMPLISHED ENOUGH!”

  • ginidietrichbiggreenpen No. The laptop is on the dining room table — it’s an open plan house so that means I am about 10 feet away from him. 🙂

  • lizreusswigginidietrich Can it involve boiled peanut consumption for Lindsay?

  • Adam | Customer Experience HAHAHAH! I was wondering if you’d see that. LOL!

    I will be happy to send you this post once a month. You have some other stuff to do for me, anyway. It’ll give me a good reason to “remind” you.

  • Could it be employees do not take vacation time because they love their job OR could it be they just don’t have a happy home life or perhaps because they have a devious boss who’ll transfer them to a lesser assignment out in the boonies the minute they walk out the door? Could it be their interests are so narrow they wouldn’t know what to do or where to go if they were out on their own for a change of scenery. And since their storage space is so limited they’ll just have to take their phone along with other various and sundry pieces of electronic equipment with them in the interest of security. Despite gorgeous ladies in gorgeous gowns, wonderful speakers and distinguished company I couldn’t help noticing the other night at a big ticket restaurant 5 out of 6 diners had their phones glued to their ear and the rest made a place for them (phones) next to their knife and spoon in the event an important call comes in. Boorish, yes! Standard practice, yes! Nobody on the volley ball court just outside the window or in the pool or just enjoying each other’s company. Hey! Have a great vacation! yippee! Wow! Let me know if you’re having yet!

  • ginidietrich Adam | Customer Experience I wouldn’t have except for Howie Goldfarb tagging me! 

    Who, me, need reminders? Never. 🙂

  • jelenawoehr That’s if you’re lucky enough to find that path!

  • ginidietrich I agree! I swear, if I ever start an agency of my own, I’m going to have a strict rule — the first two hours of every workday are yours. Go to the gym, pay your bills, go grocery shopping, etc. — get all of that stuff out of the way before noon. 
    After lunch, you do work unbothered by every other worry in your life. 
    Sound like a plan? (I’m serious.) Is it possible?

  • theredheadsaid

    bradmarleyginidietrichYeah, and the faster/more efficient workers get “rewarded” with extra work for being fast/efficient!  That turns good workers into “butts in seats” workers who wont’ work hard if they get penalized for it!
    Luckily being self-employed, I can bill based on what I am accomplishing, or charge a higher hourly rate. If they remark, “boy you’re expensive!” I can confidently say, “well, I have been doing this so long I can get it done well in half the time of cheaper labor.”

  • theredheadsaid

    jdrobertsonIf I’m understanding your point, I can say that times in my life when I didn’t have a lot going on personally, I became more of a workaholic, to fill the time. And all work and no play makes theredhead a dull girl.

  • theredheadsaidjdrobertson Perhaps I could have presented my point in a more artful manner. I was trying to say there are forces outside the workplace exerting great influence on the worker bees. There is a not so small minority of workers who  can’t wait to get to work because they feel secure in an environment where there are rules and as long as the rules are followed they cannot get themselves into trouble. To them the outside (of the workplace) world is a chaotic mess.

  • JRHalloran ginidietrich JR, I’ve heard that Google’s work model is even more relaxed, Google has no work hour restrictions, the only stipulation is that you meet or exceed your responsibilities, goals, objectives.

  • iwanskic

    I don’t think it’s about having time but taking your time for something, whatever that may be. If someone tells me he doesn’t have time for this or that I can’t believe him. Life is about setting priorities and living according to them. Imagine what happens if I give the person above 10’000$ to do something he or she previously declined to do. Will the person still say that he or she doesn’t have any time to do whatever I asked for? I frequently refer to this example if someone tells me he or she doesn’t have any time for anything else. In my opinion it shows that life and our choices are all about setting priorities. In Ghandi’s words: “action expresses priorities”.

  • Digital_DRKginidietrichAnd that’s smart! Putting a time limit on work makes everyone “stretch out” their effort.

  • Amen, amen, amen, Sister ginidietrich Four things I might add to aid productivity: 1) STOP trying to do everything. Invest more time (yes, I said that) to determine what’s most important, and focus on doing that; 2) Related to that, identify and stop doing, or do less of, the unimportant things, and time-wasters. Until you do that, you’ll never have “enough” time; 3) Replace multi-tasking with uni-tasking. Although technology seems to allow us to mult-task, our brains aren’t wired that way. You’d be amazed how much more efficient and productive you’ll become when you focus on something intensely and without interruption for 15, 20 or 30 minutes; and 4) Return my calls.  🙂

  • BillSmith3

    KensViews ginidietrich Some of the best advice on top of Gini’s. I hate the myth of multitasking and I dread that word when I look at job descriptions because it is a myth.

  • BillSmith3 KensViews ginidietrich  Agreed, better terms would be “compartmentalizing or prioritizing”

  • KensViews I have some thoughts: 1) Are you saying *I* need to stop trying to do everything or is this to the masses? 2) I actually have a list on my desk of things only I can do. If I’m about to do something that’s not on that list, I delegate it. 3) I totally, 100%, agree with this. I know some of my team will argue against it, but I truly believe focus is the only way to do things efficiently. 4) The last time you called, me I returned it!

  • ginidietrich   My thoughts were of course for the entire @SpinSucks community. I’m SO glad you agree with me on unitasking. BTW, @Jason K  @Lindsay and @Laura think you should agree with me on everything. Only #4 was directed at you, and I was merely banking advice for my next call!  BTW, IT”S SNOWING HERE!

  • KensViews Big whoop. We have six feet of snow. I win!

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