You Can’t Count the Time You Spend Washing Socks

Many professionals complain about the long hours they work.  For some, at least, all those hours are being compensated.  These professionals are moving and shaking because they want to make as much money as possible—even at the cost of family time, recreation, and often, their own health.  It’s difficult to be sympathetic about their complaints, since their situation is a choice.

But many professionals are plagued with long days and long workweeks for which they are not being adequately financially compensated.  Some of these people are simply not charging enough.  They have priced their services at a low rate, believing this to be the only way they can compete in their market.  They have not learned how to create value for clients so that they know they deserve—and then, can request and receive—better compensation.

Still others in this latter group may be confusing attendance at the office with productivity.  They feel “busy” at work, but hours are spent each day performing tasks that aren’t actually making them money.  Someone in this situation may spend an hour or two each workday involved in non-business conversations.  Maybe there’s another half hour or so spent trying to resolve computer issues.  Then, there are those lunch plans with someone he or she already sees every day…

Don’t confuse being present with being productive.  You may spend an hour and a half at the gym or health club, but how much of that is talking sports, waiting for an exercise station instead of using a different machine in the meantime, and “resting between sets”?  You could even count washing your socks—which is something you do have to do in connection with your workout—but none of this time really counts.

“The only time that counts is the time you spend with the weights,” says Corey, a financial services sales manager I work with.  “You do have to wash your socks, but you can’t count that time.”

sock

When you’re selling and providing services, the only time that counts is the time you spend face-to-face or on the phone with clients or prospects.  If you’re not doing one of these things, you can’t claim you’re working a twelve-hour day.  You may be at the office or on the road for that much time, but a lot of that time, you’re just washing socks.

Some experts call the time you’re actually performing income-generating activities “green time”.  If you’ve been feeling that you are working long hours and not making enough money for the time you put in, try this for a week: Write down everything you do, all workday long, every day, for all five-to-seven workdays.  Don’t change what you do, just record it.  Then, go back and see how much time you’re actually spending “with the weights”—that is, how much of that time is actually green.

washing-machine-green-clothes

If your green time is six to eight hours daily, and you’re putting in ten-to-twelve hour days, too much of your time is being spent on socks.  If this non-productive time is somehow work-related (follow-up phone calls and paperwork someone else could be doing for you), get some help.  If it’s not work-related, either accept the fact that you’re at the office longer by choice, or choose to save non-work matters for after hours.

Another financial advisor I’ve worked with greets everyone in his office in the morning, and then spends the next 8 hours on green time.  He makes it known that while he’s unavailable during the day to discuss pleasantries, at 6 PM, he’ll be happy to go for a beer with anyone who wants to spend time with him.

Stop the load of socks, and make room for green time instead.  Once things are really shaking for you, keep REACHING…

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Twee Nguyen says:

Dear Mr. Schussel,

Ouch !!!
I'm ashamed and embarrassed to admit (it hurts to recognize it) but it’s worth the pains. My time was spent more in washing socks which is "black time" rather than "green time". 🙁

Thank you for the wake up call with a "2×4" not too late for the New Year.

May yours be decorated with JOY, filled with HOPE & enclosed in PEACE.

Your tyro of the Brassring,

Tweety 🙂

Sandy Schussel says:

Tweety,
Thanks for the kind New Year wishes. I wish you the same.
It’s never too late to turn “black time” into “green time.”

Sybil says:

You have been reading my mind—again! My mantra for the new year is to "work smarter, not harder". Thanks for writing about one way to do this, Sandy.
Sybil

Sandy Schussel says:

Sybil,
Working smarter simply means focusing on what you want to accomplish and asking yourself one critical question about what you’re doing now:
What’s the most important thing for me to be doing right now to accomplish this?
Some people walk themselves through more questions:
Is what I’m doing right now necessary at all?
Is it something I need to be doing
(as opposed to someone else)?
These can be helpful, too.