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New Podcast Episode on Investing in Your Career

post # 263 — December 18, 2006 — a General post

What you do with your paid time determines your current income, but what you do with your unpaid, non-reimbursed time determines your future. You can (no, you must) use those unpaid hours to improve your “career assets,” by investing the time in building client relationships, breaking into new markets, and developing new skills to increase your future success.

My latest podcast episode, entitled “It’s About Time” (based on a chapter from my book True Professionalism), explores a powerful regimen to harness your most valuable professional asset: non-reimbursed time.

  • 01:38 Calculating and assessing your non-billable hours
  • 05:10 How to rethink the way you categorize time for a better ROI
  • 08:20 8 criteria to evaluate and prioritize your non-billable activities
  • 13:03 A personal example of non-billable time management

You can download It’s About Time sign up to receive new Business Masterclass seminars automatically with iTunes or other podcast players (click here for step-by-step instructions on how to subscribe). My seminars are always available for download at no cost.

IMPORTANT: Podcast series subscribers should note that I’ll be taking a break from posting new episodes in this careers series until after the holidays. The next new episode will be posted on Monday, January 8th, 2007.


Grant Aldrich said:

Hi David,

What a great post. It seems like this is one of the largest problems facing large professional service firms. With the constant pressure to keep billing, and firm-wide success metrics based on billable hours, professionals are spending very little time dedicated to the non-billable tasks that will improve their capability as a knowledge worker.

When time does become available, it usually proves to be ineffective. Professionals are exhausted as a result of working long hours, and rarely have any sort of plan or schedule, as you mentioned in the podcast. Where is the time for reflection on knowledge gained from a particular project, or client experience?

I wrote down your 8 criteria. I think it is valuable to regularly re-evaluate the progress and direction of building your knowledge capital. However, you briefly mentioned automation, and performing tasks more effectively, which I feel is as important as prioritizing activities during non-billable hours.

Even if you have an optimal plan laid out to effectively utilize your non-billable hours, those hours will never bring valuable results unless you can clearly focus. Unlike repetitive tasks that can be accomplished at anytime, you cant rush the creativity and critical thought of a knowledge worker. Exhaustion, stress, administrative tasks, poor organization, and physical strain from spending 12 hours at a desk, all prevent the professional from taking full advantage of their abilities.

When they finally dedicate their time to the plan, it is rarely an opportune time for deep thought.

I think what I am suggesting is that the remaining 50% of their non-billable time, be spent on automating, outsourcing, and optimizing as much of their personal life, professional work, and overall physical environment as possible, so more effective time can be spent on relationships, knowledge capital, and billable hours.

Im probably missing a key ingredient in not allowing for any further division of the non-billable pie…it would be great to hear your thoughts on this.


posted on December 20, 2006

David (Maister) said:

Exactly right, Grant. You have said concisely what I was trying to say: that you can’t do sensible, effective asset-building projects if you are trying to sneak them in as an afterthought to an already busy schedule. Your emphasis on the need for focus is entirelty right.

That’s why I recommend planning one’s investment time every three months, not every month, so you can schedule some focused time. With planning, you can get your billable work done in four calendar days, leaving one day a week (or one day a month, whatever it is) to forget the billable tasks and doe xactly what you are saying: focus on the things that will make for a better tomorrow.

But to do this, you have to accept the mentality that it’s OK to have a day with no billable hours in it. As I argued in the podcast, there is, for most of us, enough time in a three-month period to meet production targets and engege in focused investments in our careers and business. we just have to be disciplined about scheduling that time, and sticking to the schedule.

posted on December 20, 2006