Chapter 5

Energy, Not Schedules

Project plans. Work hours. Deadlines. Due dates. Milestones. What do these concepts have in common? For starters, they all purport to contribute to productivity, by drawing arbitrary lines in the sand and defining who will do what, by when. In a very crude way, they impose organization and drive teams toward goals. But their only common denominator is time.

We are so obsessed with time in the workplace, often to the exclusion of many other important factors, that we’ve become almost immune to the issues that actually matter. Time is finite. We each get a very limited quantity of it; thus, rather than letting it rule our lives, we should honor it as the very limited resource it is by doing everything in our power to conserve it or spend it wisely. This is a fine line, so I’ll use an obvious example to help make it clear.

How long does it take you to get to work from your home? When I ask people this question, most often, I get two different answers. The first: “Well, during rush hour it takes X.” The second: “During off-peak times, it only takes Y.” The second answer is irrelevant, unless you are one of the rare individuals who has the luxury of working during off-peak hours, or has the flexibility to set your own hours. Organizations requiring their workforces to arrive at the same time and leave at the same time (for nonbusiness reasons) essentially waste everyone’s time, thereby reducing the overall energy individuals have to expend on the stuff ...

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