Got some time?

Having been deeply involved in Physics and Relativity, I’ve heard every fact and joke about the non-absolute nature of time. However, in the last couple of years, I’ve been exposed to a kind of non-absoluteness that I was not expecting: the relativity of possession.

How often do we say, in defence of a “shortcut-style-approach” we’ve taken during a project, “I didn’t have the time to do it differently, because of pressure factors X, Y and Z”? How many times do we use this sentence to account for the lack of a feature in a piece of software, an unfixed bug, a design flaw, an overlooked automation, an unfollowed lead, a missed commercial opportunity?

Now, think for a moment how much it cost to other people, or to us, in terms of time spent, to make up for the missing item. Or, worse, how much it costs every day/week/month to keep on making up for its absence? How does it feel when we are on the other side of the table, and we complain about doing over and over some work that could have been avoided if someone (who was unwilling or was feeling rushed to conclude) just went the extra mile? I’m talking about the kind of work that doesn’t give you any praise or recognition, just the satisfaction of providing the extremely needed “drop of oil” in a complex machine when nobody ever bothers to ask why there’s a leak in the first place.

We can rarely foresee what will happen in the long run, and often fell under urgent pressures, thus jeopardising the right results of our projects at the expense of our time or our colleagues’, almost giving a negative sign to the return-of-investment of our work.

So, next time someone says to me “I didn’t have the time,” I’ll ask back: “Whose time you did not have? Are you sure it was yours? Because it seems like you had my time at your disposal since it’s me covering up every day for your faults.”

The tough resolution will be to remember to ask me, under pressure: “Whose time do I not possess? Am I sure I’m not borrowing someone else’s time?” Maybe I will need to stand up in the face of expectations and pressures and state firmly: “I don’t want to borrow other people’s time: it will take more time to complete this task so that no one will have to rely on unnecessary work in the future”.

Long story short, this post is just another version of this sentence:

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
Peter Drucker

Until next time, stay sharp.