Time Well Spent

05 Feb Time Well Spent

Budgets are unfortunate necessities that keep us grounded in our spending and even more grounded in our work limitations. Every editor, sales team, marketing manager and creative professional in the content industry has a budget, and no matter how big or small, nobody’s is ever big enough. I’m a dreamer – a shoot for the stars kind editor – and for as much as I love a good budget in that it helps guide and narrow my choices, I curse budgets for keeping me from doing everything I want, when I want it, exactly how I want it.


Give me free reign on a project and I will gladly bleed you dry and take an undue amount of time to complete said project. Thankfully, in my entire career, that has never happened, and I hope it never does. Why? Because I believe no project can succeed without boundaries, and some of the best work emerges from projects with a focused budget and tight time constraints.


In the infancy of every new project, I’m reminded of the pick-two project management triangle: cheap, fast and good. You can only have two of those things, and for many, the choice can cause a great deal of frustration, especially when you want it all. You also can choose free, but then you will never choose good – you most definitely get what you pay for when it comes to content.


When I’m confronted with this choice, one of my selections is already pre-made for me – good. I don’t want to do something if it’s not done well, which leaves me with fast and cheap. Sometimes I have ample lead-time, which means I don’t have to consider speed – which also means I could and should move directly to cheap. Frankly, I don’t like the implications of cheap. I’ve read my share of cheap content and while it’s not the of my baldness, it a valid reason to make anyone pull out a follicle or two.


Today, our editorial team released a brand-new guide to the 2018 tax reforms. From the kernel of an idea to a full-fledged magazine represented 15 working days. Fast and good were the choices for this project, if for no other reason than necessity. As always, I worked with my most trusted writers that I know produce good copy on a tight deadline. I didn’t engage in unnecessarily complex idea generating sessions. I put my head down and focused on the most important aspects of the topic and nothing more. Our team was able to take a complex, hot-button topic and create an informative, (dare I say) fun publication about the changes to the U.S. tax code.


What I realized in the creation of this magazine was that without exception, fast and good are the best choices if I want to produce something worthwhile. Sure, I generally desire more than 15 days to create an entire magazine, but no matter the timeline, I realized that most of my team’s best work comes from urgency. We’re all used to having a budget that restricts how we spend our money, but should we all be working with a budget that restricts how we spend our time? Do we really have to choose between fast, cheap and good if we know exactly how to allocate our time and money?


Perhaps we should all be working with a time budget, no different than our financial budgets, that we must adhere to and balance each month. Maybe we really can have it all – fast, cheap and good – if we monitor our time as closely as our money. After all, time is money, and time is our greatest resource to put toward making something good.


We’re always eager to hear from you – how do you budget your time? Is anyone already doing this and, if so, what are your tips and success stories?