Dribs and Drabs or large blocks of time. That’s what we’re talking today.
The Effective Executive by Dr. Peter Drucker ranks as one of my all-time favorite books. Copyrighted in 1966, its advice in the area of time management rings even truer today than it did over 50 years ago. “Effective executives…do not start with their tasks. They start with their time,” says Drucker.
One of my favorite lines from the book is when Drucker says, “To have dribs and drabs of time at his disposal will not be sufficient even if the total is an impressive number of hours.” The point is that we cannot get anything of real value done without “time in fairly large chunks.”
Let me ask this question: How often do you find yourself working on a project that takes time and effort, but you’re interrupted every few minutes? What’s the cost:
- Reduced Focus and Flow: Continuously shifting between tasks and responding to interruptions hampers our ability to enter a state of flow, where we are most productive and creative. Large blocks of time allow for deep, undistracted focus, enabling us to accomplish more in less time.
- Inefficient Task Switching: Every time we switch between tasks, we experience a cognitive cost known as “task-switching cost.” These micro-interruptions add up. We get less done.
- Lack of Progress: When we work in short bursts, it’s challenging to make substantial progress on complex or intellectually demanding projects. Large blocks of time provide the space needed for thoughtful, in-depth work.
- Stress and Burnout: Constantly reacting to interruptions and working in dribs and drabs increases stress and decreases our satisfaction with the job we’re doing.
Finding those fairly large chunks of time is difficult for those in any business. I was in the field of education for almost 30 years. For teachers, most have only a 30-minute block of discretionary time per day. Administrators often find their days so fragmented that nothing is accomplished by the end of a day.
Finding those large chunks of time can be difficult, but it’s worth it. Once we give in to the notion that our days consist of fragmented “dribs and drabs,” we must give in to the notion that we will simply not be effective in our jobs.
Who and what are the obstacles that stand between you and those large chunks of time? Keeping that thought first and foremost in your mind for a few days will quickly reveal answers as your day unfolds. Postponing checking e-mail, letting voicemail catch the phone calls, and closing the door to dissuade drop-in visitors are time-honored techniques. Above all, if you had the large chunks of time, what would you do with them? If the answer to that question is hazy, there will be little motivation to make tomorrow any different than today.
On the other hand, if you have a passion for a project, the project has been planned, and you know exactly where to jump in, somehow the ability to block out the rest of the world becomes easier.
You’ve got goals. You’ve got dreams. If any of it will be accomplished, the tool you have to work with is your time. Are you going to use it, or are you going to turn it over to everyone else who wants a piece of it?
What’s your passion right now? What’s standing in the way of your pursuing it? What are you waiting for? Turn Drucker’s “dribs and drabs” into large chunks of gold!
Life is too short and time too precious to waste one more day. If you are someone who stumbled upon this site for the first time, let me help you take a major step forward right now. When you join my email list, I’ll give you two free gifts. The first will get your desk clean. The second will put everything you have to do in one place. Plus, each week you’ll hear from me with nuts & bolts tools and strategies to make life easier and more productive. You’re one click away from making it happen.