Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard said, “More companies die of indigestion than starvation.” What did he mean by this? People tend to overschedule, filling every single minute of the day. Some slots on the calendar are even double booked.
Just like companies, most company calendars die of indigestion rather than starvation. Most businesses have more opportunity and more activity than they have time to do them.
In our hyperconnected world, we all have more activity than we have time to complete those activities. This tendency to overschedule is especially true of executives. They have no thinking time in their days.
You must add thinking time to your calendar every day, every week, every month, every quarter, and every year. You need time when you are not meeting with people and doing things so that you can work on your business, think about your business, and analyze how you are doing in your business.
The biggest flaw in most executives is that they are overscheduled, and they miss what is happening right in front of them. They miss the opportunity, they miss the insight, and they miss the colleague or team member who is having challenges and quits. They miss the business because all they are doing is going from meeting to meeting. They are not stopping and having thinking time.
Part of the reason we are overscheduled is our need to prove that we are busy. That is not a positive mindset. You are not accomplishing what you want. The focus is not on your BHAG or your key performance indicators. Instead, you are focused on checking off the items on a calendar. You are not achieving the goal of being successful by overscheduling yourself and showing people how busy you are.
It’s akin to Stephen Covey’s story about two men who were cutting lumber. One guy cut lumber nonstop the whole day. However, the other guy stopped to sharpen his saw. The guy who refused to quit judged the man who stopped to fix his dull blade. However, the guy with the razor-sharp blade — the one who stopped to sharpen his saw — actually cut more lumber, even though he took breaks, than the individual who never stopped. Overscheduling is like the guy who refused to stop and sharpen his saw. You have to stop and sharpen your saw. You must stop and schedule in thinking time and breaks.
For those of you who think we are talking about vacations, that’s not what we are talking about. You need that too. However, we are talking about the thinking time that needs to be scheduled into those breaks. You don’t need to take a break every hour, but you need to take a break every day to schedule in time on your calendar for thinking. You are simply overscheduled.
This may sound like a paradox, but if we were to slow down to go fast, I believe we would be much happier. What does that mean? If we slow down and think about our priorities and the goals of our business, then we would accomplish them more quickly. Our priorities often get lost in our busyness. We are doing too much rather than using our time to focus on what is most important.
Written by: Wade Wyant
Red Wagon Advisors, West Michigan Scaling Up Coach