It turns out my wife might be right: I’m a bit of a faffer.
That is: I spend a decent amount of time being ineffectual.
How do I know this? Because I have a colour coded spreadsheet to prove it (so it must be true).
Having recently read the Peter Drucker classic The Effective Executive I decided to do a ‘time audit’ and track where and how I spend any given work day. It’s an exercise recommended in the book as Drucker asserts “it is amazing how many things busy people are doing that will never be missed.”
Determined to not be one of these people I created a spreadsheet and tracked my time in 30-60min blocks for a couple of weeks. The findings were confronting.
For the most part, when in client meetings, offsites, workshops and coaching sessions my spreadsheet looks good. I show up and I’m effective and present for these. Where things get scary is in the white space in-between these activities. In the gaps in between meetings, offsites, workshops and coachings.
In this subliminal space it seems I shuffle the metaphorical, and actual, papers a LOT. I do things like check my inbox (every 16 seconds), pick my up my phone without realising I’m doing it and set off to refill my drink bottle, only to get distracted on the way to the kitchen and return 13 minutes later with an empty bottle wondering what I set off to do.
In short, I faff.
Of course, Drucker was onto something. Just knowing you’re doing this exercise and have to write in your spreadsheet how you’re spending your time is enough to shift your behaviour. And now that I see a pattern of these pastel yellow Excel cells (the colour of choice for activities that I concluded were ‘faffing’) all through my week, I realise that I’m not being as intentional with my time as I hoped. Moreover, I realise that these are tasks that as Drucker says if I do less, won’t be missed.
So where does that leave me? Well, as James Clear has said “time magnifies whatever you feed it” so I’m on a mission to feed it less faff. To be less aimless in the white spaces on my calendar and instead be more intentional and deliberate.
PS. for more on this topic, checkout this podcast with me and Jen Waldman.