Allison Iantosca is a partner at F.H. Perry Builder, a 35-year-old company listed as one of the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts for three years in a row. aiantosca@fhperry.com

Taking Time

Instead of marking success by how much you accomplish in 24 hours, think about marking how much meaning each hour holds

May 18, 2016
Slow down the pace of your life and focus on not how much you accomplish but how meaningfully and well

Isn’t it amazing how quickly a click can derail your life? Or how the brevity of an email can devalue your best intention. Or worse, how instantly a relationship can be forever altered by something you hardly even knew you did or said. These are our modern-day crises. We’ve all had them; life-altering experiences that start out innocently enough but have consequences that dig deep down into the pit of our souls, get comfortable, and stay for a while. The kind where apology must be swift and meaningful because we’re measured as much by our correction as by our original error.

Small mistakes with consequential damages. Electronic media is ripe for it, but so too is our ever-growing demand for speed. The thoughtfulness of even a decade ago has vanished, replaced by “end of day” and “just send me a quick email.” In fact, we prefer the brief note, just the facts, a photo will do. We place such a premium on efficiency and instant connectivity that we often forget to pay attention to what we’re actually doing or saying. 

It’s not all terrible. Our digital networks expose us to so much more. I feel like I can reach out and touch another country, or hear a song so meaningful it makes me cry and own it instantly. I can set up a meeting with five people in five minutes. I can send something—a photo, a link, a cut-and-pasted phrase—to someone I love and my “this made me think of you” makes it feel like they are in the room with me. 

And clients? Technology allows us to dream together more richly than ever before. Plans, specs, and ideas are at our fingertips. Love notes after our very first visit can be sent that night describing what we learned in our conversation, enhanced with photos and ideas saying, “I get your vision.” 

The Most Limited Resource

Author and speaker Simon Sinek writes about time in his book, Leaders Eat Last. We can always find ways to make more money, Sinek says, but time is a limited resource. Each 24-hour cycle is exactly the same for everyone, yet, as human beings—especially as American human beings—we tend to fight against anything that feels limiting. So if time is limited, we say, we’ll manage the one available variable: how much we can get done in each 24-hour period. And if mistakes are part of the deal, so be it.

But here’s something to think about: Instead of marking success by how much you accomplish in your 24 hours, think about marking how much meaning each hour holds. Consider spending some of those hours caring for yourself by doing something that you love to do, taking care of your body, enriching your creativity. And consider the impact on a colleague when you choose to use one or two of your hours to drive to the site to sit down in person, offering your time to help him succeed, face-to-face rather than phone-to-ear. How powerful is it to take the time to draft a full-on, language-rich, thoughtful email and have a friend review it before you hit send? Or to check the email address you just typed to make sure it really is going to the person you intended. 

I guess what I’m saying is that modernday tools are just that—tools. We can let them run our lives, up our pace, and give us a false sense of productivity, or we can let them help us live life with meaning, and allow us to share more of our time with others. It’s an ever so slight adjustment to our current way of thinking. Hopefully, it’s a way to manage mistakes and minimize the consequential impact they can have on people we care about the most because we have already built solid and meaningful relationships.

If you read all the way to the end of this article, thank you for taking from your time to see my thought through; it means a lot to me.

Comments

Thank you for this thoughtful article. I often resist the pressure to reply quickly to emails, because I want to be certain that my response is thoughtful and appropriate, not knee-jerk or misguided. Most situations are not emergencies, and I miss the days when it simply wasn't possible to respond immediately--the letter took time to arrive, or the phone had to be picked up by a person. The time delay could allow each person's reaction to be tempered; and often issues were resolved simply by the passage of time and space.

Amen! Quality wins over quantity always! I would so much prefer to accomplish one great thing each day instead of making meaningless little dents in a bunch of things done poorly. Thank you for the good reminder.

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