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CIO Unplugged – 9/1/08

September 1, 2008 Ed Marx No Comments

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally, and are not necessarily representative of Texas Health Resources or its subsidiaries.

Green Standard Time
By Ed Marx

In the last few years, the Green movement http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_politics has picked up momentum as the world comes to grips with the reality that we belong to a single ecosystem and must be prudent caretakers of our shared Earth. Sidestepping political foray associated with the movement, one principle I agree with is conserving our precious resources. The most precious non-renewable resource of all is our time.

I advocate “Green Time.”

My audiences and Blog subscribers often ask how I manage to accommodate all my passions—and do them well. After a recent talk on mentoring, a woman said to me, “I have read your blogs and seen your YouTube Ironman videos where you share the amount of hours invested in training. If you were to take a 20 week period and subtract the time for training, sleeping and working, how do you have time for anything else?” She stated the exact hours associated with each.

Part of the answer boils down to personality where my wife will attest to my unconventional modus operandi. Aside from that, however, I do not subscribe to the work-life balance philosophies popular over the past decades. Technology has created the capacity for more fluidity and integration in the post-modern lifestyle, freeing us from the bounds of compartmentalization. If I am inspired at 3am to work on something, or on a Saturday, so be it. If I want to be home for an important mid-day occasion, I do it. I measure my productivity in outcomes, not hours.

There are numerous books on time management that will do a far better job than I in providing tools and tips, but here are a few that work for me.

· Team Work Makes the Dream Work (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Maxwell)

You are only as successful as the people around you (see post “Talent Rules!)

You must have a great assistant like I do

Delegate authority and responsibility to the lowest levels possible

Provide vision and remove barriers, then get out of the way and allow your team to make it happen

· Multi-Task

I carry out the majority of my conference calls while in the car (Safety tip: integrate a complete bluetooth environment in your car to do this)

My laptop with “aircard” shadows me everywhere enabling me to catch-up on miscellaneous tasks during any unexpected downtime

I keep up intake while biking and running indoors (see post “Chief Intake Officer”)

All division leadership meetings include 29 minutes for professional development

Outdoor runs, rides, and swimming incorporate prayer and reflective thinking; Blackberries are great for spontaneous note taking

· Meetings

I attend fewer meetings by allowing others to represent me

Too often, I have looked around a meeting room at the people involved and wonder at the duplication of effort and wasted resources

I ask myself, “Is my attendance really necessary?”

I adopted principles from “Death by Meeting” and improved outcomes http://www.tablegroup.com/books/dbm/

I create regularly scheduled “block times” where I do not attend meetings

Practice those things you probably know but don’t do: Agenda, Meeting Purpose, Facilitator, Timekeeper, Action Items, etc.

· Stop Watching TV

The average person watches somewhere around 20 hours per week. Set yourself free, and buy back 20 hours!

I married my college sweetheart between our junior and senior years. Possessing little cash, we lived without a TV and never became addicted. Today, we watch a couple of movies per month and enjoy an exceptional TV moment such as the Olympics. Even then, one of us will climb on the elliptical or stationary bike instead of acting the couch potato (see multi-task)

· Vendors

I only spend time with strategic partners; my team handles tactical and emerging partners

I rarely do lunch or dinner meetings or other boondoggles. Instead, I do occasional breakfast meetings, which are quick and part of my existing work routine (see multi-task)

I’ve started doing workout meetings. We meet at the gym and talk while working out (see multi-task)

· Work from Home

I save up many routine and/or intensive tasks for my home workday, Fridays. My productivity easily increases by 50% or higher. My assistant does this as well. My entire division is encouraged and free to work at home as much as possible

If the above is impractical, carve out a minimum weekly 4 hour block of time and visit your neighborhood Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Panera, Library, etc. Free yourself from distraction, and concentrate on work for an extended period of time

· Be mission and vision driven, and take control of your destiny (see Post “Taking Control of Your Destiny”)

· Focus

Where ever I am and whatever I do, I am in the moment

I begin each workday by seeking God and preparing for the day’s and week’s tasks and objectives

I give everything I have to the task at hand

· Outsource

I hire others to do tasks that sap my energy and time, such as lawn care and household/car repairs. Some say they can’t afford this. I argue you can’t afford not to if you want to have energy to focus on what will help you realize your vision

“Outsource” other home tasks. Teach your children certain tasks. (Our son received his A+ certification training at age 12; for 6 years, he became the household go-to person for all things technical.) The neighbors hired him on several occasion for computer needs. Do your neighbor kids have skills you can employ?

· Exercise

Studies have shown that exercise not only improves the odds of a longer more healthful life, but sharpens the mind

I do the majority of my workouts while others are sleeping. My workout facility opens at 5am and is 5 minutes from my office. Time and location are significant conveniences

Golf! I’ve never stepped foot on a course, but many CIO’s do. Are you using those 3-4 hours wisely? Can you golf with family or with vendors?

· Family time

Evening walks. Weekend bike rides

Got teenagers? We connect with ours by playing Rock Band. (Although I am the lead vocal, my kids warn me not to quit my day job)

My kids let me practice my speeches on them and use them as sounding boards. They get a taste of what I do, which keeps us connected and broadens their perspectives

Part of my weekly dates with my wife include a joint workout and prayer, things we both believe in

Regular dates with the kids is crucial

Family first + work second = everybody happy

· Rest and the Sabbath

I get to bed around 9pm each evening for an average of 7 hours sleep per weeknight, more on the weekends

I attempt to reserve Sundays for pure rest, no work of any kind. Counterintuitive, this principle applied leads to more time abundance

· Mood affects everything

Gratefulness allows me to enjoy the time I do have

Always give thanks. I was a janitor and I was thankful. I was a pizza delivery driver and I was thankful. I was an Army Private and was thankful. I am a CIO and am thankful. In all things, give thanks. It’s a choice.

I don’t believe our environment is completely controlled by the actions of the population, but I do know I’m responsible for how I manage my personal time. Hence, my choices govern my impact on those around me. In this sense, I’m a dogged proponent of “Green Time.”


Ed Marx is senior vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. (Use the “add a comment” function at the bottom of each post.) You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can follow him via Twitter – User Name “marxists.”

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