Where The Time Goes

It’s a rare soul who hasn’t asked themselves where their time goes, and perhaps an even rarer one who actually comes up with an answer. I’ve gotten to the end of more than one day only to glance back and wonder exactly what I’d accomplished in the previous 12 or so hours.

This hit me hard one day back in the early years of Morrison. I had completed a very busy month and was preparing my billings only to be stunned at how few billable hours I’d recorded, maybe two-thirds of what I’d expected. Something had to be off but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

I flashed back to a time years earlier when I had let my weight creep up over 200 pounds. Not one for crash diets, I did a little research and learned that on average it takes about 15 calories a day to support a pound of weight. With a target of 170 pounds, that worked out to 2,550 calories a day.

That is hardly a starvation diet; if fact it’s almost five Big Macs a day. I knew I could hit the chips and Snickers a little hard on occasion, but the caloric equivalent of five of McDonald’s finest? It didn’t seem possible.

So I decided to track it. I got a book (this was pre-Internet) and wrote down the calories of everything I ate for about a week. At the end I found out I was lucky I wasn’t kissing 250 pounds and was probably headed that way. I also discovered that it wouldn’t take that many tweaks to hit my target and I could still eat a few chips.

I resolved to take the same approach to my time. I wrote down the start and stop times of everything I did every day for about a month, then reviewed what I’d done. I found more than a few time-management equivalents of a Big Mac or Snickers bar, most of which were easy to eliminate. I also found that I had been grossly inaccurate in many of my time estimates.

I’ve had a few relapses over the years but am now pretty faithful about tracking my work time daily, chargeable or not. It’s kind of like my diet: I may do something fattening now and then, but I know what I’ve done and the guilt keeps me in check.

About the Author

+Brent Morrison is managing principal at Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, strategic planning), feasibility studies, interim executive CFO services, competitive grant writing and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Brent directly at bmorrison@morrisonco.net or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 202.

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