People often ask me, “Where do you find the time to [fill in the blank]”. Sometimes it’s “read all those books”. Sometimes it’s “write a blog”. Sometimes it’s “play computer games.” Sometimes it’s “write articles for the magazine.” Sometimes it’s “watch television”. Sometimes it’s more specifically “watch all those cartoons”. Sometimes it’s actually “do work.” (Okay, almost no one asks me that last one.)
Well, I guess the fact that it’s been almost five weeks since I’ve had a blog entry shows that I don’t always have the time. It’s been a rather frenetic few weeks between work, training, presentations, and a couple of vacations (a 16-hour drive to Yellowstone and the Disneyland Halloween party if you must know), and a few things were allowed to drop by the wayside. My blogging and my writing and my reading and my computer games and my cartoon watching have suffered. (Well, maybe not the cartoon watching and computer games.)
So, one answer to the question is that I don’t always have the time.
But the question, in general, is very revealing because there is usually one of two sentiments underlying it.
The first is “I envy you the ability to find the time to do something for which I don’t have the time.”
Interestingly, the answer in that case, is quite simple. I find the time to do certain things because they are the things I really want to do. For example, one of the things I really want to do is watch Community every Thursday night, so I try to make sure I have the time to watch it (although I still haven’t seen last year’s Betty White episode). Another thing I like to do is write humor pieces. You know those humor pieces I’ve been writing for the magazine over the last few years? Well, it was something I was already doing in the office. (Best not ask some of my co-workers the tortures I put them through before the magazine gave me that outlet.) I like doing the blog – I try to write the blog. I like reading – I find ways to read. I like playing music – I find ways to play music. I like playing computer games – I make time (probably too much time) to play computer games.
And here’s the other way I “find time”. You see, the first draft of this post was actually written in the airport while waiting for a flight back home after the IIA’s All-Star Conference.
What do you do when you’re sitting in the airport? (Rhetorical question.) There is a whole lot of time that people spend “working” that I, personally, don’t really think is the best use of time. You see, except in VERY extreme circumstances, I do not work while in the airport or on a plane. I write, I read. And, an amazing thing happens. The auditing world doesn’t come to an end.
I think one of the BIG reasons people don’t have the time to do the things for which they ask “where do you find the time” is that they cannot believe work will survive if they don’t use every last increment of time on that work.
To find time, try imaging a world where your time is not completely taken up with audit, and then make it real. What’s the worst that can happen? (Another rhetorical question.)
The second underlying sentiment to the question “where do you find the time” is “I can’t believe you waste what valuable time you have to take on an endeavor that I perceive to be a waste of time.”
This one is simple. Never dismiss any endeavor, no matter how trivial you think it is. That “waste of time” may lead to bigger things than you can imagine. For example, my finding the time (and it ain’t really that much time, people) to “play” on the internet was a key ingredient to my learning and understanding the risks and concerns that companies may face with social media.
Let’s put it another way. My “playing” eventually resulted in my being a (what I perceive to be) better auditor.
I have a friend who is very into model trains. I do not question his passion. I have a friend that is very into music. I do not question his passion. I have a friend who is learning how to make stained glass. I do not question that passion.
If all you know is auditing, then you are useless to the profession. We are more than ciphers. Yes, learn about the profession. But make sure you have the time to explore your other passions. If it is your passion, you will find the time for it. And you never know how it might expand your creativity, expand your understanding of the profession of internal audit, and improve the profession in the process.
And, by the way, it’s nice to be back.