Is Your Staff a “Frog Boiling in the Pot?”

Are you managing your time? Or are you wasting it like a 20-year-old spends lottery winnings—in a foolhardy, uncontrolled way?

Even if you have gotten control of your own time, it’s likely your staff can use some help with this. It’s also likely that you don’t have a good picture of how your staff members actually spend their time.

A time study is a healthy tool to help capture this data; the first step in time management. If you are person who works by tracking your hours, this may not be the most fun for you. I know it wasn’t the most fun for me, but because we are looking to set a benchmark, there’s no better way to achieve that than a time study. We want to say: here’s where we are and here’s what we’re headed towards.

Allow me to illustrate this for you. When I started working with one of my first gurus, he taught me about time. The office was growing, and we were getting some office furniture. Right in the middle of my putting together a desk, he called me and could hear my frustration. He could also hear the screw gun in the background and said, “What are you doing?”

I replied that I was putting together a desk. To which he asked, “Why are you putting together a desk?” I told him everybody else is busy working and it had to get done.  With all of his wisdom, he told me he wouldn’t argue with me, but that this was not the highest and best use of my time. He then said, “Is there no handyman in town you can hire to come put these desks together for you?”

And that’s when he realized that I was missing something—a clear understanding of the value of time. I was introduced to the time study when my mentor told me to write down everything I do and how long it took me to do it for one month. Up to then, I did not measure my time nor did I pay attention to it that way.  Now whether you do this for a month or a week is not as relevant as the fact that you do it. The reason he chose a month was that I had a lot of diversity in the activities I engaged in and he wanted to make sure he covered all those different jobs. If you do the same thing over and over again every day, you can probably learn what you need in a week.

You will quickly see where the biggest chunk of your time is spent at the end of the study. I found out that I was spending 25% of my time on IT work–fixing stuff, resetting computers etc. This raised the question of: How did I end up doing this? It was because I am a closet computer geek and I LIKE working with technology. Because I enjoyed this function, I became somewhat addicted to the fact that I—because I enjoyed it–jumped right in and was quick to get it done. Eventually this slowly slipped away from me and before I realized it, I was spending 25% of my time in IT.

I equate this to what I call the boiling frog theory. You know, if you take the frog and you drop it into a pot of boiling water, he’s going to jump right out. But, if you put the frog into tepid water and then slowly bring that water up to a boil, the frog becomes more and more comfortable as it gets used to the heat – comfortable and lazy enough to end up boiling alive.

I know that’s a cruel concept, and you can be sure I’m not boiling frogs. But in our daily lives, we slowly let ourselves get involved in activities and before we know it, those activities take over our lives.

Before you conduct a time study with your employees, take a month or a week, and do your own time study. The revelations you discover could tell a story that will amaze you. You will then have data you can use to schedule your time differently and be more productive every day.

Building a better business, one time study at a time.

No time to develop your staff regarding topics such as time management? Automated Business Results now offers a staff training service.

Find out more about staff training  by scheduling a strategy session with us at


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