It’s about time. It always gets back to time.

Number 3 of “19 for 19”. Time-sensitive, time-intensive, time-keeping, time-saver, time and time again. Daylight Savings Time.

I have found myself intrigued by duration these days. Precisely how long do things (tasks, distractions, serendipitous moments) actually last? Someone once mentioned in passing that commuters never tell the truth about the length of their commute, because he suspected if they did, they would be miserable.

leatherbound keeper

Leatherbound Keeper

I took that as a dare to accurately assess time spent doing things like traveling to the office. It does not help that when commuting to NYC, I only have to walk across the street when I hear the train coming (that’s not quite true, but almost). I blame some of this need for accuracy on my days spent at Coca-Cola during one management edict period that demanded everyone keep a “Daytimer.”

Oh the joy and despair of that leatherbound keeper.

The discipline for accurate assessment of duration has been helpful for lots of reasons. Any “to do” list or set of goals ends up on the daytimer in my mind. It must occupy a realistic place on the calendar to represent that it will get done. If I don’t put it on my calendar, it doesn’t happen. I’ve tried a number of software solutions, that guarantee high productivity. And yet for me, it always gets back to the concept of putting the item somewhere on a calendar – especially to allow some leeway to get into that vital “flow state” crucial to the results of your efforts. Beginning with the end in mind, since the beginning of my professional life (thank you Stephen Covey), this seems to work best for those big hairy audacious goals (thank you Jim Collins). Backing out from the due date, literally schedule time to get all of the tinier, more digestible tasks done that are required to meet the big one. And stick to it, adjusting for duration as you go.

Every case is different. There is no “one size fits all solution” when consulting with attorneys preparing to go to trial.

I never say never, because during every trial, something happens that’s never happened before.

That’s remarkable. Regardless of duration, eureka moments do happen, but in the context of months, sometimes years leading up to them. But they are more likely to happen when you have freed your mind by scheduling all the other stuff.

chart

One of my favorite sayings is “if I had more time, I would write you a shorter note.” That about sums up a common conundrum in keeping time. Even after years and years of adapting, delivering, perfecting and delivering again, the disconnect between quality and time is significant. I have written about the delights of longevity,  so it might figure for “Longtimers” that specific tasks might take less time.

Not true, and thankfully so. It isn’t about speed and systemizing that make our contributions unique and helpful. It is about the optimal effects of reflection and application and context that keeps clients coming back.

 

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