Insider Intelligence: The Time Conundrum

April 7, 2015
Three ways to make the most of limited resources

Do you find that you are too busy running your company to stay up on the latest technology news? Not a day goes by that we don’t feel the tug of technological change versus the amount of time needed to digest those changes.

The pace of current business communications is a given — emails, phone calls, texts, tweets and blogs are never-ending. To be effective, we have to organize and adapt, or fail — easy, right?  In the midst of all this chatter, we find ourselves challenged on how much time to dedicate to the extracurricular part of our jobs — reading, learning, understanding new products, services and trends in our industry. That use of time has a definite opportunity cost.

What exactly is opportunity cost? Senior Economist and author David Henderson explains: “When economists refer to the ‘opportunity cost’ of a resource, they mean the value of the next-highest-valued alternative use of that resource. In our case, that resource is time.”

When we use our time to read 10 articles on new product introductions, we give up that same time to work on a company growth plan, marketing campaign or even a personal goal. We have to decide whether that activity is a good use of time. Is the opportunity cost worth the price? Stores are filled with best-selling books on how to gain control of your time management skills, but the reality is you alone will ultimately decide how to best use the precious commodity of time.

What can you do about finding ways to stay informed in our industry without running up against steep opportunity costs? Here are just a few simple ideas for you to consider:

1. Surround yourself with exceptional people and share the responsibility. Trust yourself that you hired the correct people. I am always amazed at how often this simple notion is overlooked. Do you really need to know how many terabytes of storage a specific NVR has to be effective in your job? If getting that information is critical, assign it to someone on your team. There’s a strong chance that you already have someone who can get to the heart of the matter more effectively than you.

2. Lean on your peers in your extended community. There are leaders in your market who are not your competitors and are willing to share their advice – take advantage of that. I have listened to panel discussions of industry leaders willing to share their “secret sauce” for success and received more good ideas in one hour than I could have ever gained on my own. Associations, cooperatives, and other industry resources have information that is there for the taking. Make participation in these groups a priority.

3. Dedicate 1 percent of your time to a key industry event. Choose to attend at least one key trade show each year where you can dedicate your time to networking, learning, sharing and listening. It is amazing what you can gain in a three day time period. You will leave with new ideas and objectives that you can put into practice immediately in most cases. Three days may seem like a lot of time to be away from your business, but it’s really just 1 percent of your work year.

One of the biggest battles we face as business leaders is balancing the time we spend working “in” our business with time we spend working “on” our business. We may find ourselves hard pressed to dedicate time to activities that keep us abreast of industry news in exchange for what needs to be done today. The question is, what opportunities are you giving up to do what needs to happen today in exchange for what could yield favorable success for your company? The choice is yours.

Ric McCullough is VP of Sales and Customer Service for PSA Security Network.To request more info about PSA, visit