Managing Minutes and the Gerbil Wheel

In my many years consulting with organizations – both secular and church – the major issue that comes up in regards to technology is not the tech itself, but the time management of those using the tech. In the end, Truman’s Triangle (Good, Fast, Cheap – pick any two) always – ALWAYS – comes into play. Since technology is a force multiplier, it is therefore understood there must be ‘force’ before there can be a ‘multiplier’. That force is time, and many of us are not very good at managing it.

“I recommend to you to take care of the minutes; for hours will take care of themselves.” – Lord Chesterfield

I initially named this “linear growth vs. logarithmic growth” because that’s really the crux of this message, but it’s not as good for SEO. 🙂 Here’s a metaphor to help:

If an organization has a goal of 10% growth in, say, new membership over one year, then it would be logical to expect a 2.5% growth every 3 months (for a total of 10% over a year). That would be linear growth. And it would also probably be unrealistic.

Logarithmic growth, on the other hand, assumes that ramping up will take time, effort and refinement. The growth may be .5% after the first three 3 months, 1.5% at 6 months and a larger ramp-up over the last half of the year. That’s logarithmic growth.

I don’t think it’s a shock to hear that the best results almost always come about after a period of sustained, goal-focused effort. We all want the results (I know I do), but we don’t always want to take the time to really put forth the right kinds of effort to get those results (I struggle with this).

A gerbil in a wheel will work very, very hard and get exactly nowhere.

Maybe it’s different for you, but I’ve found that I focus on that which I enjoy. The key, therefore, is to align my tasks to match up with the goals (bite-sized and created from the original objectives) that allow me do things that I enjoy during the process. For me to get the results, I’ve got to set myself up for success (and it helps if your boss helps you do this, too, by giving clear goals and realistic expectations). For me, since I’m all about “story”, I take my tasks and do them in the context of building up towards the over-arching story (the business objective).

My natural desire is to see immediate results and I’m quite sure I’m not alone in this desire. My experiences, however, have shown consistent results only come over time. It’s not linear….it’s logarithmic. If I manage the projects against goals in the context of the big-picture objective, I tend to spend less time in the Gerbil Wheel and more time getting lasting, consistent results.

How are you managing your time and projects against your goals? Comment below with your own systems, software, and process recommendations.

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