How Long Does It Really Take?



When a board member sees your goal of two (2) BRE visits a week, do they ask if that’s all you have time for? They don’t understand the time it takes to set up and prepare for the meeting (often rescheduling a few times) and how much time it takes for follow up and information tracking. How many times are you tasked with something others think takes “just a few minutes?” This is a somewhat satirical look at how long it really takes a developer to do some common tasks. Share it with your board members! 

  • Someone asks you to join a community committee that “only” meets one hour a month = count on 4 hours of pre and post meeting time commitment every month, plus the likelihood that the meeting will conflict with work-related invitations as well!
  • A 45 min BRE visit = 4 hours minimal follow up and tracking – weeks/months if it turns into a retention, expansion, or contraction project 
  • 30 minutes to show a building = 2-3 hours pre-meeting work and 3 hours immediate follow up – weeks/months if it actually becomes a project 
  • The ratio of board members to the time required for board relations each month – 1 member : 15 minutes a month (an average that can morph into much more for high maintenance members) 
  • Every hour of board meeting time = 6 hours of materials prep, scheduling, and reporting
  • Every hour of local government closed session meeting = 7 hours of pre and post follow up, plus 2-3 hours waiting through other agenda items – weeks/months if a project proceeds   
  • The ratio of social media posts to time for content development = 1 post : 10 minutes of content development (content can be reused, so the ratio can be improved) 
  • 45-minute fundraising solicitation call = 3 hours pre and post-meeting follow up – more if it is a large donor or grant agency with a formal process which can add hours for post-grant reporting
  • Every hour of grant application writing = 6 hours of administration and reporting 
  • Every time someone asks you if you have just one minute to talk = count on 20 minutes 
  • When someone leads off with “I hate to ask you this…” = 2-3 full days of work

If you have a hard time explaining to your board why it takes so long to do seemingly “easy” economic development tasks, send them this blog to start the conversation about the real work you do, capacity levels, and resources needed. Maybe it will prompt you to take another look at what takes up your time. Reference our recent blog post Saying No to Focus on What’s Really Important. By analyzing how long tasks really take, and where your time is really spent, you can become an essentialist and focus on what really matters.