Monday, September 16, 2013

Underschedule

Work should be a mix of car and train, I wrote recently. But how do you make sure your work has the ‘car’ element, when you don’t travel by car?

I recently read this interesting article in which the big boss of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, explains how he makes time to listen and think. He basically underschedules. He deliberately has fixed time slots in which he has no meetings. These time slots are for walking around, talking to people and listening to them, sitting back and thinking everything through.

This is interesting. I’ve written about the concept of ‘slack’ before and how important it is for work in general and collaboration and networking (platforms) specifically. It’s important to me personally as well. I find I really need time throughout the week to restructure things in my head, generate some creative ideas for my clients, write things down for a blogpost or just to document things.

But I also know that in the society we live in ‘time is money’. ‘Billable hours’ are important. Going out for a walk to think, reading a book at work or just sitting back for a considerable amount of time is not done. It’s not productive or it doesn’t look that way, so we maintain our active selves. All this underschedule stuff is important but we leave that to our own time in the weekends and evenings.

At least that’s my personal experience. I’m curious if you relate to this. It’s weird to me, because there’s lots of research showing that knowledge workers are only productive for about 4 hours of every 8-hour work-day. And that working more that 40 hours doesn’t make us more productive.

So, how do we solve this? Start by underscheduling like Weiner? Could be. I can relate to Weiner’s approach. I don’t explicitly plan time, but I do make sure I have time to think and process my work. Of course the thinking is not limited to work hours. But I do consider thinking and processing as work time. These are billable hours, if you like.

So, what do you think of this topic? How do you make sure you have time to think? Do you underschedule? Or is your agenda so overloaded you just go from meeting to meeting, from task to task?



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