Visual Management ◾ 91
Fact: The time you have to do this inﬁnite amount of work
is quite clearly ﬁnite. Whether you work 40, 50, or 110 hours
per week, there is a limit to how much you can accomplish
each week. Just as there’s a physical limit to the throughput on
a manufacturing line and a limit to how many jets can take off
from LaGuardia airport each hour, there’s a limit to how much
work you can do each week.
Given this reality, you have to treat your time like you treat
your money: as a limited resource that must be budgeted. And
just as you ﬁrst budget money for the essential things in life—
food, shelter, peanut M&Ms—you’ve got to budget time for
your most important work.
The thing is, you can’t properly allocate time to your really
important stuff if you only log your work in a to-do list or a
pile of Post-it notes. Neither of them captures or displays the
vital bits of information you need: When is each task due?
How long will it take? And the corollary: how much time do
you have available? If you can’t answer these questions, you
can’t intelligently decide whether you can afford to spend time
ﬁlling out employee reviews, revamping the nurse stafﬁng
schedule, or doing trust falls and ropes courses at the execu-
tive team-building retreat. Until you can see the time required
to do X, you can’t assess the opportunity cost of doing it.
Because when you’re doing X, you’re quite clearly not doing Y.
So, what’s the answer? How do you make your work visible
so you can ensure that you’re getting the right stuff done?
Living in the Calendar
At some point in the past year (and probably even more often
than that), you’ve probably complained that you’re always
being reactive rather than proactive. The reason is simple: It’s
because you constantly “live in your inbox” by keeping it front
and center and let the incoming messages drive your work. In