The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Running at full capacity

Some of my clients share how much they work. And if they do, it often also appears that it is really hard for them to add other activities.

Many of them are experts at what they call “managing their time.”

They started out seeking to enhance their performance which, for some of them, became a search for techniques helping them to become more efficient at what they do.

As their measurement of available resources, they’ll use the time available to them. They’ll then assess how much time the different tasks they plan to do require, and they’ll decompose projects into tasks they’ll conveniently describe with the time needed to do them.

There is nothing unusual about this. And there is no reason not to assess how much time a project may take. Usually, people also become gradually better at assessing the time needed for different types of projects.

Where it becomes difficult is when they attempt to align attributed tasks with available time. That is when they forget that time is a limited resource and try to create more performance by limiting the gaps between tasks.

In doing so, they become dependent on their plan to become a prediction.

Whenever there is a slight shift in their plan, they can expect that this shift will require an unpredictable amount of time. The shift in plan will require human interaction, asking for help, and figuring out how to explain the tasks and requirements. Suddenly the work will have multiplied.

For a while, they may even be able to make it happen. At the cost of emptying their batteries beyond capacity and to the extent that it takes them more time than planned to recover. Suddenly the time available will have reduced itself.

One could argue that their work-life balance isn’t optimized. But if the balance is established by attributing time to both work and “life” the problem remains the same.

It doesn’t pay to forget about capacity.



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