What Budgeting and Old Furniture Have in Common

If your life is like mine, you face an overwhelming array of ways to spend your time. Some of these time investment opportunities seem to hold the promise of greater success. The potential value of other opportunities remains more mysterious, such as those emails from people who sound familiar but you just can’t quite remember why.

Still other time consumers seem more necessary because we feel expected to perform them – reading the morning papers and fresh content on our favorite Web sites, for example. After all, don’t our bosses, clients, and colleagues expect us to keep current on our rapidly changing world?

But how necessary – and how valuable – are these time-investment opportunities, really?

At home, my family is conducting an exercise you might consider: We’re striving to make our lives uncomplicated. In other words, we’re looking to live leaner.

After many hours invested in decluttering (and several runs to the Goodwill donation center, the Salvation Army, and city landfill), I realized that our personal exercise has taught me a lesson that applies to business life. Some of the best decisions I’ve made in this process are decisions about what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to continue to manage rooms, closets, and shelves packed with old furniture we might need someday, old clothes that might come back in style, and magazine articles I need to read when I have time.

As Michael Porter has said, The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.

In our rapidly changing business world, the traditional budgeting process qualifies as a piece of old furniture. Getting rid of it creates valuable space and more opportunity to invest our limited time in ventures that deliver greater success.

If you don’t believe me, take it from Business Finance Editor-in-Chief Jack Sweeney, who offered this eulogy last year, The budget is dead. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. It is as dead as a doornail.

Still not convinced? I’d like to hear from you through this survey on the budgeting process.

Filling out the survey won’t consume too much of your time. And, I promise, the results will be valuable in your own efforts to become uncomplicated.