DonnaM » Blog Archive » ‘Wasting’ time looking for information

‘Wasting’ time looking for information

I just read yet another statistic about the amount of time that people spend looking for information – this time it was that �Managers spend 17% of their time (6 weeks a year) searching for information� with the conclusion that this is a very high cost to business.

So then I thought of what I have been doing for the past 2 hours. I have been sitting in front of my computer looking for information. Non-stop. I haven’t moved, not even to get a drink or chocolate. But not one second of that time has been a waste. Even though I have a good idea of what I want, and haven’t found the definitive answer (well, there isn’t one, so I’m not expecting to) I haven’t wasted any time. On every web page and journal article I’ve learned something interesting, even if it is just that there are far too many interesting things to know.

Now I don’t dispute that there are a lot of times that it takes longer than expected to find out what you need to know. Sometimes it is frustrating and sometimes it is rewarding. But sometimes we should stop and observe what is really happening and realise that we learn a lot during the search for information, much related, some unrelated, to what we need to know. The journey is part of the learning.

One Response to “‘Wasting’ time looking for information”

  1. Abhay S. Kushwaha Says:

    Though the point you make is accurate, it is not relevant to the quote. When a manager is working for a company, their tasks should add value to that company. By searching for information, they aim to do just that. By spending more time on searching for the information that will let them do it, they’re reducing the value of their work.

    Very roughly:
    Manager A performs a task worth $1000 in 2 hour.
    Manager B performs a task worth $1000 in 4 hours.

    Very easy to see which manager added more value. This is true to all employees actually but in case of managers, perhaps it’s more important since they’re paid much higher, are more responsible for other people and perform bigger, more valuable work.

    In our example, Manager A has a 2-hour advantage over Manager B and could perhaps add another $1000 in the next 2 hours.

    Agreed each search is a journey and you’re learning something new in that journey. But that something probably has nothing to do with your job or task at hand. It is improving *your* value perhaps not your company’s, and in a way, the company has a right to be upset that you’re increasing *your* value at company’s expense. Maybe the new knowledge you have gained will help the company later. Then again, maybe it won’t. So from company’s standpoint, you’re wasting time–time that could be done something else that will add to company’s value.

    Lines are fine indeed. But they exist.