It is Friday afternoon, the office is closed, and the future is a somber gray. In my previous two jobs–one as an executive director at a large law firm and the other as a sales rep at what was then the world’s most talked-about financial services company–each evening began with a brisk sprint to a meeting scheduled for 9 p.m. to ensure approval of a minimum amount of work per week.
Most days, we showed up as scheduled, but on occasion, we left home as scheduled, too late to secure our appointments. Regardless, it was the same grueling effort. We hung on to our jobs no matter how much sloth settled over the office. That’s what people do, even when time is short. They won’t sit idle.
How does an organization stay effective at managing its people when it is failing to manage its time?
It was our employees, and in my opinion, the business itself, that kept us from slacking. If you’re not determined to prove your worth, why should others show up late or not at all? So I began to reassess my priorities. I realized there was no value in the pile of unfinished items sitting on my desk, my work would become obsolete in the coming days, and there was no time for personal reflection. So I resigned from both my jobs. There is no more time for sloth.
For five years, I have gone on to author more than 40 leadership books, and I have written both fiction and nonfiction. I have been featured in trade magazines and on business TV, and have published articles in publications across the globe. Yet even in my extended occupation, time is still scarce, and sloth is king.
In the 1960s, Dr. Alfred Adler calculated the average workweek for workers in his fashion, which at that time was a full-time job (49 hours) and 40 hours for temporary workers (also 49 hours). Today’s average workweek is 47 hours, and Adler’s 1968 work schedule puts employees at 58 hours in total. The average American worker today does approximately four and a half times as much work as was done by Adler’s constituents.
That’s a rapid decline in an industrial era–all due to sloth.
So how does an organization stay effective at managing its people when it is failing to manage its time? Simple.