I remember my father telling me, many years ago, that there are certain “constants” in life that we must all work with.
And one of those constants, he said, is time.
There are always, day in and day out, 24 hours in a day; 60 minutes in an hour; 60 seconds in a minute.
This never changes. And it never will….
And, he said, most things in life take a certain “amount” of time, meaning there is a “limit” to what we, or life generally, can achieve within a certain period of time.
It takes the Earth 24 hours to do a full rotation … this is a fact of life. So if you were to sit on the same dock of the same bay for 24 hours, you will only ever be able to enjoy one sunrise, and one sunset. No more. Not ever.
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A woman will never be able to give birth to, let’s say, 20 children in a year. It takes 9 months to carry a baby to full term, so even taking quintuplets and the like into account, there is a very clear “maximum” possible in that particular timeframe.
It will always take man around 2 hours as a minimum to run the 26 miles of a marathon …
Simply put, one can only do so much with the time available to them. And this, for many reasons and in many different circumstances, is an important thing to remember.
That was the point my dad was getting at, all those years ago. And a very good point it was too.
It’s also a point that I discuss frequently with my own clients …
The above examples are 100% fixed. They come down to science. It will never (possible sci-fi futures aside) be possible to see more than one sunrise from that one dock, give birth to 20 children in a year, or run a marathon in just 20 minutes.
And in just the same way, the things that we do within our businesses will always require a MINIMUM amount of time.
A business can only ever operate as well as its biggest constraint allows. And more often than not, that constraint comes down to TIME …
Imagine a restaurant with 100 tables, but just one waiter and one chef. They simply wouldn’t have the TIME to serve all those potential customers. They simply couldn’t operate a 100-table restaurant to its maximum capacity.
Constraint found. But they don’t need more time, they need more staff, or a smaller space, to maximise their output … to maximise their profitability. Yet time – and what a human is capable of achieving within a certain amount of time – was the biggest factor constraining them.
On the other hand, imagine a 5-table restaurant with 5 waiters and 5 chefs.
There wouldn’t be enough for them to all do. They would have TOO MUCH time. This restaurant also wouldn’t be able to operate to its maximum profitability. And it doesn’t need less time, it needs less staff or more space, to maximise its profitability.
When it comes to business … as with life, really … we always need to remember time …
We need to remember that time is a constant that cannot be changed.
It takes a certain amount of time to DO a certain job. That is a constant.
And there will never be more than 24 hours in a day in which to do it. That is also a constant.
So when looking at our businesses … at our efficiency and our profitability … maybe putting more of a spotlight on TIME will help us find our main constraint.
If we have to devote a LOT of time to deliver a job, we will only ever be able to take on a small number of jobs. THIS is our biggest constraint.
In which case maybe we simply need to be charging MORE for our time. Maybe it is simply not possible to do the job in a shorter amount of time, so maybe this is the only way we can improve our profitability?
Or maybe we need to find a way to be more efficient. Maybe we can, in fact, find a way to get these jobs done – just as well – in a shorter amount of time. So maybe we need to be looking at how we are using our time …
Or maybe WE don’t need to be doing some of those jobs at all? Maybe we could delegate, automate or outsource some of the tasks that take US so much time, freeing up that time to focus on something else, something more important to us.
One thing is for sure though.
You didn’t become self-employed so you would spend MORE TIME working.
You did it to GAIN more time. (This is part of the 2nd of our 3Fs – freedom).
It was inspired by time. It needs time. It takes time.
So time is the thing that you need to remember most of all.