Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Interview with Mark Elwood

Why is time important to you?

Time is a way of measuring how well we are doing. Showing up on time is a reflection of integrity. Completing things on time shows good planning. Doing things in less time demonstrates efficiency. And having time to reflect means that one is in balance.

Why do so many waste time?

Few people set out to waste their time. But they make choices that are not consistent with their values or goals. Those choices are wasted opportunities. So if you have a major project that is overdue and spend all night watching television, that's a bad choice. If family is important, but you work every weekend, that too is a poor choice. If you drive all the way across the city to save a couple of dollars on a purchase, that shows a lack of appreciation for the true value of time. There is a second type of waste, where other factors cause us to "waste" time. No one plans to get stuck in traffic jams, nor have to wait for a meeting to start, nor re-do a document after a boss has requested numerous changes. The challenge in these cases is to anticipate the possibility for waste and take measures to prevent it.

What surprises you most about your time studies?

After a quarter century of computer and communication technology designed to improve productivity, knowledge workers are still burdened by administrative tasks that take up 25% of their time. Technology provides wonderful advantages that were unthinkable a few decades back. Yet it has also created unanticipated side effects that slow people down.

How is your method different?

Time studies among knowledge workers have traditionally relied on questionnaires, observations, or diary studies. We ask people to track their own time using our proprietary TimeCorder device. Every time they change from one activity to another, they simply press a single button. It's easy to use, gives instant feedback, and is accepted by 96% of employees in our time studies.

What is your toughest time challenge?

My biggest challenge is ensuring that people keep the time commitments that they make. Unexpected things will happen and everyone becomes late on occasion, including me. Good manners and good business suggest that you tell others that you are going to be late. Nobody is perfect. But everyone can manage their imperfections.

Mark Ellwood
(416) 762-3453

Mark Ellwood is the inventor of the TimeCorder and author of at least three books on how to use time wisely. (Some call that time management. But you can’t manage time; only your use of time.)

Books by Mark Ellwood:

Get More Done

A Complete Waste of Time

Cut the Glut of E-mail

Order his books here

George Torok
Business in Motion

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