Most executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs put a huge amount of time into their jobs. In a crisis it may be necessary to burn the midnight oil, but the ambitious have a tendency to stay late every night. This tendency arises from the implicit assumption that more hours equal more value added. That is too simplistic. Your success should be measured by the results you produce, not the number of hours you log.
When I joined a law firm in Washington, DC, I soon realized that charging clients for the number of hours worked made no sense. That billing method encouraged lawyers to work lots of hours rather than to get good results quickly. After a few years, my clients knew that I was efficient, so I ran an experiment. I sent them a letter explaining that in the future I would bill them for double the time I actually spent on their work—unless they objected. Not one client did.
Focusing on results rather than hours has the added benefit of allowing a better balance between family and work. When I had young children, I came home most weekdays at 7:00 to have dinner and spend some quality time with them. Later in the evening, if necessary, I would work in my home office. On the weekends my children usually slept late, so I would work from 7:00 to 11:00 in the morning and have most of the day left to be with my family.
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Jim is president of InnoThink Group a human resources and leadership management consulting firm. He has an absolute passion for people development and are constantly refining and adapting his programs in order to ensure that they have the maximum impact on those we serve.