It has become somewhat of a joke around here that I arrive at the office to say, “I was lying in bed last night thinking… I have an idea….” I don’t know how it is that we can sit in brainstorming sessions for hours trying to develop a creative strategy, we walk away, think about something else, and boom! There is the concept. So it was with great interest that I read Schumpeter in the Economist last week. Under the headline No Rush – In Praise of Procrastination he writes about his own experience as a journalist: “There is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind,” reflecting that during editorial meetings his thoughts are usually on his dog, East Timor or waiting emails. Life, he says, is getting trickier for timewasters. In our 24/7 world where stock trades flash across the globe in nanoseconds, business today has no time for dreamers.
Sure there are a handful of tech companies that build “tinkering” time into their daily routine. But most companies are using technology to monitor employee time like never before. In our industry, time sheets are a scourge for most employees. I am constantly telling our team that I am not interested in using them like a kind of virtual punch clock. Time sheets are for clients. Personally, as long as I know we are getting quality and value from their work, I am not interested in how long it takes. In fact, whenever posssible I try to move clients away from hourly billing. First, I don’t want to end up like lawyers, vilified for arcane billings that report every minute invested. Second, if, after years of experience, I can pound out a news release in an hour or two, and it takes a novice a day or more, where is the justice in hourly billings?
Employees that are compensated by the hour are more vulnerable to stress – and isn’t life today stressful enough? So as we head into this holiday weekend let’s write an ode to procrastination – to let ideas percolate through. Like fine wine, let your ideas age and mature. Let your mind wander. Inspiration will come – and just in time for that next deadline!