Leaders Know How To Use Time Wisely

Gerwig 2015-10-23

Do you like going to the Department of Motor Vehicles? There may be someone out there who enjoys going to the DMV, but everyone I know dreads it. Why? Because you wait and wait. And then you wait some more. For some reason, DMV offices across the country have it wrong. Some are worse than others. Today, it took me over 5 hours to get my driver’s license.

Let’s start with some context. I currently have a valid driver’s license (and have for over 30 years). I’ve never had my license revoked. The last time I had a traffic violation of any type was over 4 years ago (for speeding). I’m considered a low-risk driver by my auto insurance company. But because I’ve recently moved to a new state, I was required to get a new driver’s license and I had to do it “in person.” I wish there were an online option, but there isn’t, at least not for new state residents like me getting their first license in the state.

Arriving at the DMV 30 minutes before they opened, I waited in a line. Outside. In the cold. I was number 43. Before the doors opened, there were approximately 3 times that number lined up outside. I should’ve known I was in for something special. I won’t go into all the details except to say that I had all my paperwork, my current driver’s license, my passport, etc. And it still took over 5 hours.

The good news? I heard a long time ago a wise gentleman (Dr. W. Edwards Deming) say that “all variation is a loss to society.” I often extrapolate variation to include “waiting.” Waiting, to me, is a form of variation after all. I’d like to coin the phrase, “all waiting is a loss to society.” But because I took Dr. Deming’s words to heart, I was prepared. I knew a trip to the DMV would likely cause me “loss” by waiting. So I simply prepared. I took a backpack full of the required documents, but I also added my mobile phone, my Kindle, my iPad, a pad of paper, a pen, a bottle of water and some snacks. I also took some Tylenol and earplugs.

Did my preparation pay off? Yes! I completed 1 book and started another. I kept up with my email and texted some friends. I journaled some thoughts on the pad of paper. And when I got hungry (because I missed lunch), I had a couple snacks to fill the void in my stomach.

As I reflected today on places that often require waiting, I thought about airports and government offices and, yes, doctors’ offices and school offices. I thought about waiting on my car while it’s getting repaired at the local garage. I thought about sitting in the lounge while waiting to see the dentist. And on and on. Most of us do a lot of waiting.

However, great leaders are prepared for the wait. Are you? Do you have something that allows you to make good use of your time? Some tasks can be delegated. Some tasks can be completed online. Sometimes you can drop your car off at the mechanic’s for a repair. But there are times when you’re going to wait. Maybe you can talk with others who are waiting. Maybe you can take a nap. Maybe you can pray or meditate. But it’s worth a bit of planning so that you have other options. A book. A phone. A pad of paper. A pen. A tablet. Be prepared to use your time wisely and perhaps your delay will seem to go a bit quicker.

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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