Time is not the enemy

by Peter Levesque on May 19, 2011 · 3 comments

in KMb Articles

Over the past 5 years of consulting, the issue of time has consistently been identified by clients as a barrier to engaging in knowledge mobilization.  They state: “We don’t have time to do this and our other work.”; “I would like to do knowledge mobilization but I have too many other problems to address.”; “I know it is important but I get paid to do research.”

I always find this interesting.  Of all the barriers: skill, knowledge of effective practice, resources to produce user centered products – it seems that time is the one element that should be seen as a constant.  Time takes care of itself.  It continues moving along at a predictable pace.

Here is an exercise that I often take people through in workshops.

How many days in a year?: 365 with an extra day every 4 years

How many weekends in a year?: 52 equaling 104 days

How many statutory holidays in Canada?: 11 in Ontario

How many days do you get sick?: 10 (According to Statistics Canada, between 1997 and 2008 the average number of days missed has increased from 7.4 to 10.)

How many days do you take as vacation?: 20 (decreasing in Canada)

Let’s do the math:

365 – 104 = 261

261 – 11 = 250

250 – 10 = 240

240 – 20 = 220

We have 220 workdays a year.  The average length of the workday is about 9 hours. This provides us with 1980 hours a year – let’s round it to a range of 1800 to 2000 hours per year.

We have 1800 to 2000 hours of working time a year.

So – in that time, we either build in knowledge mobilization or we don’t.  Time is not the issue we should be complaining about – it is what we do with the time that we have.  Time is not the cause of our problems – our management of time is.

Here is how I break down my time in an average year:

100 days of consulting

60 days of training

60 days of professional development, business development, administration, volunteering (boards, committees, reviewing things).

It is really quite simple however it requires some serious management tools.

1) The use of the word NO.  If it does not relate to my business, I say NO. Often this word is followed by the name of some one I think can be of help – this also helps build relationships.

2) The use of the word MAYBE.  If I do not know if it relates to my business, I use a little of the business development time to see if I need to say YES or NO.

3) Technology. Learn how your tools work.  I recently helped a team discover 3.4 FTEs in a team of 30 because they could now use email, instant messaging, and SharePoint more efficiently.

4) Mind your Business.  Knowledge Mobilization is about creating value.  If you are minding your business then you are looking for methods, tools, and people that can either bring value to your business or can increase the value of what you produce.

5) Focus.  Just because the latest hottie has a nice butt does not mean you need to pay attention to it.  I know it takes will power but you are an adult.

Time is not the enemy.  Time is an ally.  It is constant, regular, and predictable.

Time wasters are the enemy. Knowledge mobilization is a great way to focus energy to ensure that you are not wasting your time or the time of others – getting what people need to know, to them in a format they can use, when they need it is a great way to honor the precious time resource you have.

Peter N. Levesque
President & CEO

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

JoVE May 19, 2011 at 11:58 am

Great points. I think sometimes people use this time excuse as a way of avoiding admitting that knowledge mobilization is not a priority for them.

In addition to saying “no”, you have to be able to take responsibility for that. This may be important in a general sense but it isn’t a priority for me.

One thing that really disappoints me is the number of academics with tenure who don’t use their academic freedom to prioritize the things they really think are important and use their participation in collective governance to make the changes to the system of recognition that are possible.

Instead of shuffling responsibility off onto some amorphous “they” that make it impossible for you to do this either (1) take responsibility for the fact that you would rather be doing something else (and then go devote more time to that) or (2) just do it, make it a priority, and get the support you need to get it done.

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