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Understanding the Five Time Thieves and Retaking Control of Your Most Precious Resource


We're all trying to do more with less, whether that's making our monthly shop go further and reducing our utilities consumption at home or doing more with our organisations' available budgets and resources in our professional lives. But while getting the most out of the resources we have available is certainly admirable and sensible, our most precious resource – one that we cannot replenish once it's been used – is all-too-frequently neglected: our time.

1) Too much work-in-progress

While some may consider themselves good multi-taskers, the reality is that no-one can do two things at once. We're most able to deliver our best when we're intently focused on one or two tasks at a time, and will likely finish more work, faster. That's why it's important to schedule time so as to allow teams to focus on one project at a time, as much as possible, and avoid pulling them from one project to another throughout the day.

2) Unknown and external dependencies

Any technology project will require close cooperation between multiple teams and departments, both across and external to the organisation. However, during the project planning stage, it is important that all dependencies – the points where a separate team, individual specialist, or another organisation's input will be required – are catalogued and factored into the overall timeline. Not doing so creates the risk of the person, team or organisation required not being available at the right time and thus creating a blockage. It is also worth noting that the more external dependencies you have, the more time you will need to complete a project or task. You should therefore look to reduce your external dependencies wherever possible.

3)     Unplanned work

Even with all the planning and preparation in the world, it's inevitable that we'll be asked to take on extra tasks at some point in the working day. This is especially true in the world of technology, where the landscape is constantly evolving at an ever-increasing rate. There could well be an emergency that will need to be resolved before any ongoing projects can continue, or an opportunity that's too good to not pause everything and take advantage of. Regardless, it's important to build a certain amount of flexibility into all scheduling and project management in order to 'plan for the unplanned', to ensure this work never derails key projects, while leaders should take steps to control the level of unplanned work coming into their teams.  

4) Conflicting priorities

It's a fact of life at most organisations that everyone considers their own project the main priority. However, if everything is a priority, nothing is, so it's important to be realistic and make sure an order of priorities has not only been created, but properly communicated to staff at all levels, within all departments, and ensure everyone understands why the priorities are priorities. These should then be regularly reviewed and updated, in light of the latest outcomes.

5) Neglected work

Finally, if work has been scheduled, make sure it is completed on time and that an unmanageable backlog is not allowed to develop. This not only makes it harder for teams to manage their workloads, but can also lead to significant costs in terms of both time and money, and a decrease in quality, productivity, and wellbeing.

The Five Time Thieves are ongoing challenges for organisations at all levels, from start-ups to global corporations. Minimising their impact is an ongoing, transformative process that will likely require fundamental cultural shifts for both individual teams and the organisation as a whole. However, DevOps principles offer a powerful framework for affecting these changes, so it is no surprise that more and more organisations are working to establish them within their daily working practices.

If you would like to find out more about these principles, and how they can help your teams fight back against the Five Time Thieves, just read our report: Digital Transformation and DevOps.  

DevOps - the convergence of development and operations – is driving the digital transformation of future-minded organisations across a range of sectors, helping them develop world-class IT infrastructure while simultaneously developing more agile, dynamic approaches to working that suit the evolving digital landscape. In this brochure, you will discover a proven, effective process for establishing your current level of DevOps maturity and take the first steps to establishing your own DevOps culture.

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