Logan Dunn

Do my resources match up with what I want out of life?

You can talk all you want about having a strategy for your life, understanding motivation, and balancing aspirations with unanticipated opportunities. But ultimately, this means nothing if you do not align those with where you actually expend your time, money, and energy.

In other words, how you allocate your resources is where the rubber meets the road.

Real strategy— in companies and in our lives— is created through hundreds of everyday decisions about where we spend our resources. As you’re living your life from day to day, how do you make sure you’re heading in the right direction? Watch where your resources flow. If they’re not supporting the strategy you’ve decided upon, then you’re not implementing that strategy at all.

—Christensen, Clayton M.; Allworth, James; Dillon, Karen (2012-05-15). How Will You Measure Your Life? (p. 62). HarperBusiness. Kindle Edition.

As you can see in the quote above, the effective execution of strategy really depends on whether or not we devote sufficient resources to that plan. In a discussion on Clayton Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life?, our strategy class discussed successful resource allocation. As an exercise in personal resource allocation, the professor recommend that we track our time for a week and then evaluate that time on to how closely it aligns with our personal strategy.

I decided that would be a good idea for me since I was currently in the process of defining my personal strategy, so I tracked just over a week’s worth of time to see how strategically focused my activities really are. I then followed the professor’s advice and evaluated my time based on his recommended 1-5 scale:

  • 5 = Strategically focused
  • 4 = In the neighborhood of strategy
  • 3 = Getting work done
  • 2 = Fighting fires
  • 1= Recovery

I did tweak the evaluation a little. After having already tracked my time in calendar software, I saw that it would have been better to divide my time into 30-minute blocks rather than by individual activities (often much longer than 30 minutes). From there I could have assigned each block of time the 1-5 rating and then counted based on the 30-minutes increments. Instead, because I rated it by activity, all I can see is the numer of activities devoted to each rating rather than the amount of time devoted. When I do this again, I plan on using Excel, which will allow for easier analysis.

My findings were still very insightful and what I found surprised me. Here is my analysis from the past two weeks:

 

Week 1

Week 1 (click to enlarge)

Week 2

Week 2 (click to enlarge)

 

Just tracking my week so thoroughly brought insights, but really the first part of my analysis involved counting how many times each rating appeared:

  • 5s – Strategically focused – 20 activities
  • 4s – Neighborhood of strategy – 33 activities
  • 3s – Getting work done – 55 activities
  • 2s – Fighting fires – 9 activities
  • 1s – Recovery – 16 activities

By far the majority of my time was spent in “getting work done.” So I work hard, but who at the graduate level doesn’t? I don’t spend near enough time engaging in level 5 activities, those activities that really set me up for the future. Additionally, five of those level 5 ratings are because of LDS General Conference and two from working on my personal strategy project. Most likely, had I not had conference or my personal strategy portfolio, I wouldn’t have used that time in level 5 activities. That would put me back to 13 level 5 activities.

To be fair, some of my level 3 and 4 time could count towards my strategy. I classified school work as a level 3 activity and MBA classes as a level 4 activity. Those do play into my personal strategy (getting an MBA), but I ranked them as lower-than a level 5 activity because there will always be work required to fulfill my strategy. I will eventually be in the workplace, but I wouldn’t count all my work hours as fulfilling my strategy. The same is true for my school work. There are pockets of school work I felt like were perfectly aligned with strategy, such as working on my personal strategy project, my final brand management presentation, and a visit we had to Durham Brands.

I spent far too much time in recovery. Granted this could be because it’s the end of the semester and stress is mounting, but I would still consider some of that “recovery” wasted time. Recovery is important, but I believe it is overused and becomes a vice in most of our lives. This pattern is seen on my personal diamond as well. I often engage in activities that feed a weakness, love of entertainment. A questions I am still trying to work out in my personal study is, “Why can some people just go and go and never tire/need time for recovery?” President Eyring, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the LDS Church, is a shining example of this.

The remainder of my level 5 activities are centered around serving others, which I consider a priority in my life (see the diamond again). What I really desire, though still need to improve on, is using my time for doing good. My patriarchal blessing talks about me “always be found doing those things that are right.” To me that means that I use my time engaging in the right activities, these level 5 activities. But how do I get there?

To help with this I have a few goals to improve:

  • Start small: I want to lower the amount of time I spend in self-entertainment and focus that time on serving others/developing myself (see my blue ocean strategy for my self-development plans). To do this I will set a weekly goal to complete one or two level 5 activities before I can use entertainment. I will start small with these activities and work up to greater activities as I am more accustomed to using my time in that direction.
  • Weekly strategic thinking: I have been trying to write two journal entries every week where I reflect on my personal strategy. Again I am starting small. They don’t need to be anything long and wordy.
  • Weekly planning session: I have a new years resolution to conduct a weekly planning session where I evaluate my goals and priorities for the past week and plan for the future. I want to continue this as well.