The Time Thieves

Time is the most valuable asset I have most days. Time is often a limiting factor that dictates my priorities at work. It also often determines my stress and enjoyment levels in life. Using time effectively can lower the former and increase the latter.

A few years ago I read Making Work Visible, which talks about work flow and how time can be wasted in teams. The book covers the 5 types of time thieves, and it helped me to better think about how I organize both my tasks at work and in my personal life. I think that has sometimes helped me find a way to get more done with less effort, and less stress.

There’s an article from the author that summarizes the time thieves, talking about how to avoid losing time in a busy world. For me, I find that the WIP thief and the Unplanned Work are often the biggest thieves in my life. Usually when I haven’t done a good job of prioritizing and pushing back on low-priority items. Often, however, the person I’m pushing back on is me, so I’ve got to learn how to better manage myself.

Often the way to avoid many of these issues at work is with better visibility and communication. These are two things I’ve been thinking about quite a bit after the recent PASS Data Community Summit. While I didn’t have much to do with the event, I did speak, and I took on some extra speaking duties when others were overloaded. I could certainly see some time thieves at work in the run-up to the event during the last few weeks. Things to try and fix before next year.

We all need good technical skills, often strong ones when our organizations are trying to build, manage, and operate complex environments. However, there are other skills that can be just as important. Working in a team, coordinating work, being clear, and being transparent are all skills that can help us succeed without burnout. They are also key to finding these five time thieves and ensuring we get more done without requiring more resources.

I still don’t quite know how to manage my work and personal lives together, but I am working on getting better at working in a group, which is something I find myself doing more and more.

Steve Jones

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