If Bill Gates dropped a dollar, would he pick it up?
You may have heard some version of this question before. Following a 2011 experiment by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Internet was ablaze with the finding that Gates would have to stumble across $45,000 in order for it to be worth his time to bend down and pick it up.
The Bill Gates example may seem extreme, but deGrasse’s conclusion is clear: time is money. While mine or yours may not be worth $45,000 per second, it’s still an incredibly valuable commodity. In fact, a recent study listed event planning as the fifth most stressful job in the world, but the only one in the top five that doesn’t involve putting one’s life in danger on a regular basis. More often than not, meeting planners are stressed because they never have enough time. So why are we constantly bogging ourselves down with tasks that aren’t worth the cost of our time?
How many event or meeting planners do you know (including yourself) who take on the responsibilities of an accountant? A sales manager? An office manager? A CEO? Do you know any event professionals whose jobs consist of 90% meeting and event planning duties?
As an event planner, what you bring to the table is your years of events expertise, your charisma in selling a vision and your business savvy in managing a budget. If you’re spending time doing things a computer or an assistant can do, you’re depriving clients of the moxie that got you into the business to begin with.
To see where your time goes, Robert Kaplan, a professor of management at Harvard Business School, recommends ranking your top three priorities and tracking the time spent on them during the week. While this experiment can help to reign in the time we spend binge-watching on Netflix, it can also illuminate how much time during the work day we spend on tasks that are, quite frankly, beneath us.
First, we need to ask ourselves what we’re doing with our time that doesn’t utilize our unique level of expertise. Then, we need to take those tasks and delegate. We can hand them over to other members of our team and take advantage of technology to automate things like contracts and inventory. Either way, we must start recognizing that our time is of value. The cost of hiring another human or investing in technology or a consulting service needs to be weighed against the high cost of repeated wasted time. Even if that time is not quite $45,000 per second…yet.
Karen Gordon has spent her career growing companies in the fields of events and technology, including at LivingSocial, Surprise Ride (as seen on Shark Tank) and currently, as VP of Growth at Goodshuffle. She’s the NACE National Business Development Committee Chair for 2019 and a constant seeker of more hours in the day.