Who Has Time for New Year's Resolutions?

It turns out you do, if you know how to analyze your time.

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Did you set a 2016 New Year’s resolution? If you did, have you stuck with it? Resolving to improve ourselves next year is a popular pastime performed by more than 30 million Americans annually.

Personally, I’m a bit fed up with the tradition. After all, with our busy schedules, who has time to set and follow through with yet another item on the daily to-do list? So I did some quick research into how we fared at achieving our 2015 New Year’s resolutions.

Overall, the results are disappointing, with just 8% of us having achieved our New Year’s goals. But when you look at what we were aiming for, the results aren’t as surprising.  A whopping 69% were focused on improving fitness and losing weight.

For those of us who’ve made similar resolutions at one point or another, you know firsthand that the odds are against you. Many theories exist as to why fitness and weight loss are so difficult to achieve and sustain, but there’s one underlying theme—it takes TIME; and we don’t have time to spare.  

Let’s say that you need to spend one hour a day exercising to achieve your fitness goals. That’s 365 hours a year, or 6.2% of your waking hours. Now take a look at how the average American spends their waking time (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey):

  1. 34%        Working
  2. 33%        Participating in leisure/sports
  3. 11%        Performing household activities
  4. 7.0%       Eating and drinking
  5. 6.2%       Personal hygiene
  6. 4.6%       Shopping
  7. 3.4%       Caring for family members
  8. 0.8%       Other

That leaves less than one percent of the day to add in another activity—quite shy of the 6.2% required to spend an hour a day at the gym. And sure, you can reallocate time from another category, but it’s a careful balancing act.

Don’t panic, all is not lost. We can achieve our goals, it just requires a shift in perspective. Now that we’re a couple weeks into the New Year, it’s a good time to regroup.

Did you set an achievable goal? If you resolved to do something that takes even more of your invaluable time, chances are you’ve set yourself up for failure. Go ahead and tweak your goal—it’s OK. Focus instead on something that gives you time back, something that turns the tables on the odds.

Since Americans spend more time at work than anywhere else, if we can improve efficiency at work, then we can create more time in the day for other activities. One area to explore is your use of what Gartner refers to as Data Discovery. How many hours a day do you spend working off spreadsheets or manually compiling data for presentations?

Imagine if instead you could connect to almost any data source, immediately drag-and-drop information and present it in a way that’s compelling and meaningful to your co-workers? And all within a matter of minutes?

In the recently released 2015 Federal Analytics Study, Market Connections surveyed federal decision makers on their use of analytics. They found a direct correlation between the number of data sources and the amount of staff hours required to manually compile that data.

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Nearly half of respondents reported that their organization collects data from more than five sources—an effort that consumes over seventy-six hours per month. The study goes on to note that 65% of organizations don’t have an analytics tool in place that can consolidate these sources into one interface.

By adopting efficiency-generating tools like Qlik, you’ll free up time and significantly improve the odds that you’ll make it to the gym in 2016.  For many federal employees, improving analytics is a great starting point.

So, who has time for New Year’s resolutions? Turns out, we all do. We just have to pick the right ones.

Have other ideas for getting time back in your day? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments section below!

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