Time: Friend or Foe?

By on June 23, 2015
Time: Friend or Foe?

Just what is the nature of our relationship with this thing called time? Is time our friend? Is it our foe? Or, is it neither but simply an abstraction that we use to measure the passage of our lives?

Unhappily, too many of us treat time as an abstraction. We act as though it is a resource of which we have such an ample supply that we can use it without really thinking twice about how we use it. As a result, we develop exceptionally high degrees of tolerance for the use of time in ways that do nothing to help us achieve our goals.

Like individuals, organizations develop high degrees of tolerance for wasted time. Over time, conspicuous time wasting becomes institutionalized. Meetings don’t start on time. Reports aren’t turned in on time. Chit-chat totally unrelated to work happens too often. Employees waste time searching for supplies they need. Time is wasted walking too far to a copier. Time is wasted trying to find documents in disorganized computer files. Time-wasters abound.

And we tolerate them. Why? I’d suggest that one of the reasons is that many of us carry around this notion…possibly wishful thinking…that time is a resource without limits. Nothing could be further from the truth. The passage of time does happen slowly but its impact is real. Time lost is time never to be gained again. Time is, in a sense, like diluted poison. Seconds tick by and are lost with seemingly no effect. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Whatever the source of our cavalier treatment of this limited resource called time, its impact on the organization is quite significant. For example, studies have shown that the typical American worker wastes between 40 – 45 minutes a day, most of this waste occurring because of the disorganized state of their workplaces. One of my clients calculated that if his employees were wasting between 40 – 45 minutes a day the impact on their bottom line would be over $1.4 million per year. Any other form of waste that had this type of impact on the bottom line wouldn’t be tolerated. There is no reason for the waste of time to be tolerated. It costs too much and remedies are available.

Our Corporate Service Group has developed a three-session series of discussions entitled “The Challenge of Time: Saving and Managing Time.” During these discussions, participants sharpen their awareness of the value of time and learn techniques they can put to work immediately to make better use of this very precious resource called time. One participant in this program observed that as a result of insights gained in this seminar she realized that close to 50% of her time was being spent on activities that were not really related to the core objectives of her job. With this type of realization comes action, action that will serve her well, personally and professionally.

If you’d like to learn more about this seminar and discuss the ways it would help your company extract more value from this limited resource called time, I’d very much appreciate having the opportunity to discuss it with you. You can reach me anytime at 314-303-0612. Let’s talk.

About George Friesen

George Friesen serves as Business Practice Leader - Lean Manufacturing for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. He has led the College's Lean business practice area since 2000. Prior to joining the College, George worked for Maritz Performance Improvement Company. Over the past 35 years, he has served a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, specializing during the past eleven years in Lean Manufacturing, focusing especially on the 5S System, Lean leadership and thinking processes, Value Stream Mapping, and Lean team building. George is a graduate of Washington University (AB), Webster University (MA), and United States Air Force Flight Training.

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