Advertising
Advertising

Are You Using Time Differently In The Knowledge Economy?

Are You Using Time Differently In The Knowledge Economy?

The saying used to be that “time is money,” with the thinking going that putting in more time will guarantee good results. A common example of this is the 10,000 hour idea put forth by Malcolm Gladwell and others. In short: if you want to master something, you need 10,000 hours of repetition at it. This would directly tie “time” (the hours) to “success” (mastery), but unfortunately, the 10,000 hour theory has been debunked by many.

Here’s a micro example: sometimes, a person will study for days and days (time) for a test, then do poorly (no success) on the test. How is this possible?

It is because results and success have less to do with time, and more to do with how productively you’re using the time — namely, how much attention you’re giving to receiving information and applying it appropriately.

The history of time

In the then agriculture-driven economy, time management wasn’t so important. Most people spent their days farming or tending to animals. Why would anything really need to be tracked, per se?

Advertising

Soon, the Industrial Revolution moved more people off farms and into factories. Now there was a reason to track time. The evolution of the 40 hour work week (around the mid-1920s) made time a huge commodity. Time was, essentially, the new money. To get paid your hourly wages (actual money), you had to track time. Your value was quite literally tied to the hours you put in.

    The current economy has been described often as “The Knowledge Economy.” It’s much less about the number of hours put in (although people still work a lot), and much more about the amount of knowledge you can acquire and transform into something better.

    Advertising

      The problem: many management approaches still are focused on the time side. Consider the idea of “seat time.” Most places in the first world are WiFi-enabled, so many Knowledge Economy workers can work from anywhere. They can access emails and files via the cloud. But lots of bosses are obsessed with “seat time,” or seeing the employees physically in a place near them. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s rooted in the “time is money” economy.

      Right now, many companies are focused more on employees being in a specific place for a specific period of time, instead of how to increase focus, energy, and delivery of high-impact tasks. And what’s worse: the “time is money” attitude stresses out employees majorly.

      Manage your energy and attention, not your time

      For as long as we can predict, time will continue to tick on at the same rate, but what actually fluctuates on a day-to-day basis is how much energy and attention you have — in the Knowledge Economy, that’s what makes or breaks how productive you are, and more important, it’s something you can actually control.

      Time is a necessity of work and of nature, but as far as productivity is concerned, it should merely be the backdrop against which you work.

      Advertising

      Consider the sheer idea of the 9-to-5 workday. Today, when productivity is about what you accomplish and not how much you produce, a nine-to-five workday makes as much sense as diligently tracking your time out on the farm. After all, what if your Biological Prime Time falls when you’re not working, and you have the most energy from 6 to 9 a.m., or from 7 to 11 p.m.? Or what if you have trouble focusing because you’re trying to multitask on a million things at once? Or what if you’re constantly bombarded by distractions and interruptions?

      People — all workers — are different. And if the goal is productive output, we need to understand and respect that.

      When we schedule time for something, what we’re actually doing is simply deciding when we will invest our attention and energy into the task. That’s where time management should fit into the productivity equation. Managing your time becomes important only after you understand how much energy and focus you will have throughout the day and define what you want to accomplish.

      It’s much less about the time involved, and much more about the output.

      Advertising

        So how can we work less and get more? 

        If your workplace has flexible working hours, make use of that. Have enough rest and come in ready to work so that you are at your optimum performance. During the day, take short breaks to disconnect. The optimal human ratio for work is 52 minutes on, 17 minutes off. 

        Schedule, but schedule differently: I schedule my entire day, and I’ve found that doing so makes me incredibly productive—especially when I form a strong intention about what I’m going to get done. But I only ever plan out my day after I account for how much attention and energy I will have, and most important, what I intend to accomplish.

        Consider “focus days” where your entire focus is high-level, big projects and new learning. Block your calendar out so no one can throw meetings on it and stir up distractions.

        Remember that the goal of the Knowledge Economy is different from the goal of the initial Industrial Economy. Now your time needs to be productive, not just a set amount of hours, so move towards that.

        Featured photo credit: http://www.theindependentbd.com/printversion/details/73926 via theindependentbd.com

        More by this author

        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

        7 Best Project Management Apps to Boost Productivity 100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less

        Trending in Smartcut

        1 7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success 2 The Savvy Employees Guide to Asking for a Raise 3 23 Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for an Interview 4 20 Critical Skills to Add to Resume (For All Types of Jobs) 5 15 Ways to Set Professional Goals (Examples Included)

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on December 3, 2019

        7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

        7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

        I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

        It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

        A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

        1. Define Career Success for Yourself

        Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

        What does career success mean to you?

        This is about defining your career success:

        • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
        • Not what people may think of you
        • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
        • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

        “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

        When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

        There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

        Advertising

        • Work-life balance
        • Opportunities for growth and advancement
        • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

        Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

        • What do you mean by work-life balance?
        • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
        • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

        Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

        • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
        • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
        • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

        Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

        • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
        • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
        • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

        Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

        Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

        What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

        2. Know Your Values

        Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

        There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

        Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

        Advertising

        • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
        • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
        • Put the words on your fridge
        • Add the words on your vision board

        Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

        3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

        When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

        How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

        Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

        • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
        • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
        • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
        • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
        • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
        • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

        Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

        • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
        • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
        • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
        • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

        Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

        By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

        4. Determine Your Top Talents

        What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

        What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

        Advertising

        What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

        What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

        What do you notice?

        5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

        Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

        I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

        Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

        Keep these words visible too!

        Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

        6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

        Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

        Advertising

        Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

        “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

        7. Manage Your Own Career

        Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

        Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

        Summing Up

        For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

        Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

        Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

        1. Define Career Success for Yourself
        2. Know Your Values
        3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
        4. Determine Your Top Talents
        5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
        6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
        7. Manage Your Own Career

        “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

        Good luck and best wishes always!

        More Tips on Advancing Your Career

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next