Here’s our slide deck from IgniteTO on how finding daily patterns in where we spend our time can help us win back our lives. The Ignite format is 20 slides in 5 minutes, so you have 15 seconds with each slide before it automatically transitions. Here I’ve loaded the slide deck in a format that let’s you transition with a click so you can spent as much time with each slide so you don’t have to experience the Ignite stress. I’ve also included a more polished script than the largely ad libbed one that was done live. But I promise I did get these points in within my 5 minutes limit. And I only said, “I’ll just wait for the next slide…” once.
View the deck on SlideShare.
It’s about time! How finding daily patterns in where we spend our time can help us win back our lives. This is not about time or task planning, rather it’s about understanding where we?I’ve spent our time so we can make informed decisions about where we should be spending our time. All towards the end goal of empowering entrepreneurs and the creative industry towards a healthier live/work balance.
Having worked in the creative services industries for far too many years for me to be comfortable admitting, with my first job in the creative industry working with these beasts, along with running 3 business in the past 10 years, I know a little about tracking time and a lot about having no live/work balance.
Throughout those years there’s been one thing that’s plagued all of these jobs, whether it be film, interactive, interior design, or even construction. And that nasty piece of work that we all had to deal with: Timesheets.
What this means (other than spending countless hours trying to sort out what I’d been working on for the past week from random post it notes and a sieve like memory) is that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about time. And, more specifically, time management.
From paper printouts, to Excel, to countless timesheet apps, I’ve seen it all. And one thing is certain, none of them are terribly helpful. More than that, most of them are excruciatingly painful to use. And for something that we should be using on a daily basis, that makes our lives as entrepreneurs and creatives a little less entrepreneurial and creative.
So we (that?s where I work) have set our minds to solving this problem. You know, time sheets sucking. This means finding out why timesheets suck, besides the obvious tedium, and sorting out how we can make them work for us (we?re a service provider too, designing apps for clients) and, more importantly, for you.
In the end we built something. It?s pretty exciting and has been a ton of work but, alas, it?s no time machine. It?s just an app. But we?re not here to talk about the app, we?re here to talk about the thinking that went into the app. About how finding daily patterns in where we spend our time can help us win back our lives.
(Note: the image on Slide 6 was sourced via a direct link from Google and I’m not sure how to credit it.)
To help walk us through these insights on time, I?ve asked Kipu to join us. Not on stage. Just on the projector. Not only do we not have a time machine, we don?t have a mascot budget either. Right, back to time.
We spend our entire life doing stuff. And do a pretty shoddy job of trying to understand what it is we’re doing and what value it brings to our lives. Some of us keep diaries. Some of us do timesheets (though certainly no one wants to). At best, we?re left with a sense of our work life balance.
We say we’ll dedicate ourselves to the things we love, but this ends up happening only when we can find the time. In the end, we all mostly end up in the same old work pattern. Living to work instead of working to live.
No one wants this.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we can’t all retire to a beautiful island in the sun, but we certainly can have a more positive work life balance if we have a better understanding of where we?re spending our time now.
So we asked Kipu, just as you should ask yourselves, how much time did you spend this fall storing nuts for the winter. Like Kipu, you probably don’t have an answer for that. Better yet, was that productive time? Was it wisely spent or mostly wasted? Could it have been better spent doing something else?
Being stuck trying to answer these kinds of questions about projects isn’t helpful to your clients. And it’s not helpful to you. From a work point of view you’ve got billing to do. You can’t be trying to piece together what you did last week from fading memories of torturous client calls, 1000s of emails, and assorted Photoshop crashes.
Heck, you’ve got work to do, and the last thing you need is to be wracking your brain over what you’ve been doing all day. Or for days before because we all know not many of us do their timesheets every day. It’s too painful to manage that. Damnit, you’re a creative professional, not an accountant! (<– veiled Star Trek reference)
And that’s the problem with time. In order to manage it, you need to have a handle on it. Understand how your day is unfolding and has unfolded. And this means being able to visualize your day. In the end, you need a new way to see your day that isn’t decimal points and empty cell fields.
You need your time to be structured, because you think in a structured way, from the morning commute to the 10:00a project meeting, from lunch to the phone call with NY. And that hour you lost on Twitter taking to that less than helpful social media expert.
But that’s not all. Time isn’t just about work. It’s about getting things done and having control over your life whether you’re at work, rest or play. And we don’t really have that control. Worse yet, we know we don’t have it but we haven’t even got a handle on how much we’ve lost control. We simply have no measure. And we should.
As entrepreneurs and creatives, this means finding ways to prioritize time off, to make sure we’re resting, learning, eating, dancing, or spending time with family. Really, what you need is a diary of what you missed and missed out on. And you need to get mad enough about missing time for you the same as if you’ve missed an important client deadline or missed an appointment with a busy colleague.
Instead, control slips away because we spend all our tortured brainpower tracking our work day on systems we can?t wait to get away from. The rest just happens when it happens, if it happens. And this is made all the worse for the creative, the entrepreneur. You’re dedicated. Fastidious. You want to sacrifice to reach your professional goals. But you can’t have a healthy work-life balance when you?re only fighting for your clients, their projects, and only worried about gathering more nuts.
But you need to prioritize rest. And you need to prioritize play. And, dammit, you deserve it. So you need to find a way to track those times when lunch became dinner, the gym became making another coffee at the office just to make it through the evening, and Sunday night with a good book became inbox 0 with your Macbook.
That shouldn’t be your life. And you need a reminder of that. Just like Kipu is reminded every day. Here are my nuts, here’s my lunch, here’s my time for me. So do the same for yourself and be happy Kipu.
That’s the Ignite presentation. More from Kipu coming soon. And you can see more presentations on Slideshare.