I’m working on a single task, part of a much larger project.  It is on the critical path, and I know it is important, but darn it, it has consumed my life.  I hate it when one single decision, one single thread of effort, becomes so time consuming that I have to move other, important, items out of the way to get it done.  I’m definitely working more than 40 hours in a week.

When this happens, it is good to look up every now and then and realize that I cannot “invent” more time in the day.  I have to be efficient with my time and my effort.  My family has already suffered from all the time-stress I’m under and I need to think about every scrap of time.  When the time bucket is full, saving a minute in the afternoon is a minute I don’t spend in the evening.  Each minute I spend, whether it is at 9am or 9pm, is time that I could be spending with my family. 

That’s the metric: is this bit, this task, this meeting, more important than tickling my 8-year-old daughter or helping my son with his homework, or just holding my wife’s hand and talking about our day? 

What’s your metric? 


By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

3 thoughts on “When a task consumes your life”
  1. I hear you on this one.  I use the same basic metrics and put it on my desk.  Is this more important than at least spending an hour with my kids and another hour with my wife?  Is this more important than remembering that God put me on the earth and I should take a few minutes to thank God?  Many times, those in positions of higher-authority want everyone to just-do-it but when they were just-doing-it – there were more people, more dollars and less complicated solutions (due to new points of integration, new business models).

  2. I’m going to have to expand this to a full blog post, but if I have to state it as metrics these would be the main three.

    Amount of face time with family.

    Current passive income.

    Joy level at work.

    (edit: the following is a side bar to this, and it’s either highly relevant, or a complete non-sequitur)

    This is all wrapped up in a distinction my wife and I are working with right now.  

    That distinction being the difference between being efficient, and being effective.


    Someone who is efficient gets things done right.

    Someone who is effective gets the right things done.

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