The Wet Cement of Time Optimization

As a leader, Dennis takes pride in his planning abilities, and to a certain extent, he should.

His schedule is defined, his calendar full, and his tasks prioritized. Dennis likes to know what he has to do and when. However, he can be too rigid in his approach. He leaves little room for adaptation, and this causes him during his work week to struggle for periods in the use of his time. Dennis views his schedule as rock hard and fully cured concrete. Instead, he should see the use of his time as wet cement.

In the construction industry, concrete is typically the footing on which the rest of the structure is built. It plays a key role in the support of a building. When a foundation is poured, concrete must be given time to cure. In the wet cement phase, there are clearly defined dimensions and an understanding of what the underpinning will look like. Yet, there is still time to make any adjustments and work on the layout before the concrete sets.

Dennis (and the rest of us) need to introduce a little bit of adaptability into our schedules and operate with a wet cement mindset. As strong as concrete gets when it fully dries, it is still prone to a variety of factors that can cause it to crack and break. Let’s explore this from a time-optimized standpoint.

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Expansion and Contraction

Concrete expands with heat and contracts with cold. If the concrete doesn’t have room for these movements, it can crack. This is especially true in extreme weather conditions. When Dennis gets too busy and unexpected events occur, he can begin to “time crack” – not knowing when to he can’t easily see a pathway to schedule and complete.

Therefore, Dennis is building in periodic “flex” times, where it carves out time in his calendar to be ready to adjust priorities if needed. It is between 30 to 60 minutes a day.

External Pressure

External pressure from objects like tree roots, heavy loads, or structural movement can also contribute to cracking.

Overseeing a team of 10, Dennis sees the reality of outside interruptions frequently, that need his attention. He is challenging himself to carve out “focus zones” and to consistently communicate with his team when he is available and when he needs the protected time.

Improper Mix Design

Using an incorrect ratio of ingredients in the concrete mix can affect its strength and flexibility, making it more prone to cracking.

Dennis can tend to schedule his time based solely on his needs, not accounting for the time that others need from him. The mix is off, frustrating him and his team – as each tries to find the right workarounds.

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As concrete hardens and dries, it shrinks due to water evaporation. The greater the water content in the mix, the more significant the shrinkage, increasing the risk of cracks.

Dennis realizes he has an unrealistic expectation on when things get completed compared to the time originally devoted to them. Therefore, he is working on remembering to add at least 20 percent more time to an important activity to anticipate any shrinkage in productivity because something is taking longer than expected.

What’s Your Wet Cement Approach?

There are a variety of actors that impact how quickly concrete hardens. The same applies to us. As Dennis seeks his own cure rate, so will you.

Like cement, you need a certain workability in your planning, to reduce the risk of separation, creating time voids in your foundation. You’ll need to understand the gravity of your tasks, laying them out right to develop a smooth surface. You’ll want to minimize the “emotional bleeding” – where you keep separation to a minimum and work to have a good mix in your calendar. This will keep you from mentally cracking due to the frustrations and challenges that will come up.

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David Buck is the author of the book “The Time-Optimized Life, owner of Kairos Management Solutions, LLC, and founder of the Infinity Lifestyle Design program. As a certified professional retirement coach (CPRC), David works with financial services providers helping their clients create a post-career lifestyle strategy. To learn more, contact him at or visit Infinity Lifestyle Design.

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