I suggest we allocate time to take stock of our tasks, consider our methods, and seek more efficient processes.
Many years ago, I worked as a process development analyst for Best Buy Co. Inc.'s corporate headquarters. My job was to identify inefficiencies and implement solutions that would save time, money, and resources. It's a skill set that I've taken with me as I migrated from the corporate world into the publishing and face-to-face marketing industries, always hunting for the shortest path from point A to point B. Lately, however, I've fallen into a bit of an executioncentric rut, in which the items on my to-do list outnumber the hours in the day, and time has become my most precious resource.
The problem with this myopic focus on just getting things done is that it leaves little time for long-term planning and evaluation – two things that are essential to identifying pain points and implementing more efficient methods. After all, if you are constantly moving from one project to another, you're never allowed the opportunity to take
a step back, conduct an after-action
review, discuss inefficiencies, and
explore other paths to completion.
If this sounds familiar, you're
not alone. A recent study from the
Families and Work Institute found that
more than half of U.S. employees feel
overworked, overwhelmed, or both. In
the face-to-face marketing industry, a
full one-quarter of exhibit and event
pros are working 50 or more hours
per week, according to EXHIBITOR
Magazine's 2016 Salary Survey, and
nearly half spend at least six weeks
per year on the road. Furthermore,
our recently released 2016 Meetings
and Events Survey found that nine
out of 10 readers are now tasked with
planning their organizations' meetings
and events in addition to overseeing
trade show exhibits.
Unfortunately, that sense of being
overextended – of needing to keep
checking things off the list rather
than really examining the list to begin
with – is often counterproductive. In
fact, it's times like this when intense
evaluation is essential to optimize our
efforts and enhance efficiency.
So as we embark on yet another
new year, I suggest we allocate a little
time to take stock of our tasks, consider
our methods, identify the time-sucking
items on our to-do lists, and seek
better, easier, more efficient processes.
Granted, many of your professional
chores may be unavoidable. But others
are likely outdated, unnecessary steps
that you can unilaterally purge. And
regardless of how much control you
have over your professional projects,
you can absolutely streamline things
in your personal life.
For example, like most exhibit and
event pros, I spend a considerable
amount of time on the road. And
anyone who has ever traveled with me
knows I detest packing and unpacking.
It's my least favorite thing in the world.
But over the course of a year, I spend
an estimated 120 hours shoving things
into suitcases, taking them out, and
putting them back in again. That's
three 40-hour workweeks!
So for 2017, I'm testing out a service
called DUFL that packs my suitcase
for me, ships my clothes directly to my
hotel, and cleans them after I'm done
covering the trade show floor. The fee
is comparable with the price of checking
two bags round trip, and is but
a pittance considering the sanity this
service will likely restore to my life.
In all honesty, this kind of evaluation
isn't rocket science. But it does take
time to step away from the daily grind
and honestly assess what we do, how
much time it takes us, and why we do
it in the first place. Being more mindful
of what makes us feel so overworked
and overwhelmed will likely yield a
list of things we should consider doing
differently, outsourcing to others,
or simply not doing anymore. And
maybe, just maybe, by eliminating,
sidestepping, or farming out some of
the tasks that drain us of our energy
and rob us of precious time, 2017
might just prove to be a happy new
year after all.