Illusion of Not Enough Time

Originally posted,

Small break from my list of four topics but this is one of the most amusing statements I have heard it used repeatedly while working in games. Every time a manager has used this phrase on me, it takes more effort each time to prevent myself from exploding into laughter. Its almost always used to explain why action will not be taken on something that the person in charge at heart does not want done in the first place. The other possibility is a real time pressure is making it feel like there really is no time to work on something. However, in most cases that I’ve heard it used the results are that more time is wasted trying to be “fast” and avoid the proposed work than if we had simply moved forward with the original request.

The example I have heard the most often when this phrase is used as a defense is explaining why a particular process is not being followed. “There is no time” to follow XX process, and we have to just move forward and get the work done. If that phrase didn’t remind you of a meeting that made you cringe, then you are a very lucky developer. I’ve been in the room so many times for this statement that I don’t even flinch any more. My only reaction is to make sure that my schedule is clear for the inevitable crash-and-burn on the first real deliverable that uses the results of the meeting. (I suppose I should be taking vacation time instead, but I always have had a strong feeling of responsibility in work which I am involved.) It is important to always pace yourself and not to fall into the trap of “just getting it done”. Process has been created to prevent unneeded work and more importantly wasted work. This is even more important when there is a time pressure, or resources will be spent uselessly that are in high need and demand.

Take Away: If you find yourself thinking that there is “not enough time” - stop, think about why this defense is coming to mind and fix (do not avoid) the problem.