Trevor Gibbs of Naperville, Illinois, was two years into his anesthesiology practice when the inventing bug bit him.

Apparently, the operating room can be a pretty disorganized place.

“The operating table isn’t very large so you’re in a pretty confined space. When putting someone to sleep, most of the time, you put what you need on the patient’s chest,” Gibbs said. “I was having one of those days where things were rolling off the patient’s chest onto the floor right when I needed it.”

“I thought to myself, ‘there has to be a better way.’”

Gibbs let the idea germinate for several years as he built his practice and his family. Then, in early 2016, he decided to take a leap.

He’d long ago come up with a simple concept, a rolling tray where you could place the instruments and hang the various cords and tubes necessary to administer anesthesia.

“I said, ‘that’s it. I don’t know how to do it, but I’m going to figure out a way to make it.”

Getting started

Like all modern research projects, Gibbs started his quest on the  Internet. There, he found out about SCORE, a national nonprofit organization where active and retired business executives offer free mentoring.

Gibbs found a mentor with an engineering background who had launched a company and earned and developed several patents. They met and Gibbs was encouraged to pursue the project. He then met with an intellectual property attorney and a manufacturing expert at Northern Illinois University’s EIGERlab in Rockford, Illinois, who could 3D print the prototype and guide him through the process of designing and finding companies who could build his product.

By late 2017, he had a prototype to show off potential customers and investors, a company created – even that process was more intricate than he thought it would be – and he was out showing off his idea.

We talked to Gibbs for a What Works Podcast after he won a pitch competition through Northern Illinois University. The money that he won wasn’t important. By then, he was already $70,000 into the development process. Instead, he was more interested in the validation of his idea.

What’s been interesting is how much more it takes, in terms of time, steps and money, to get an idea to market.

“I actually thought I could get this design made for $30,000. One of the biggest expenses is injection moulding,” Gibbs said. Injection moulding is a process for producing parts by injecting molten material into a mould.  Just buying these moulds is six figures even for something that’s not even that complex. On top of that, you have to produce your inventory.”

What’s remarkable is that Gibbs developed the product in a rapid time from while continuing to put in 40 to 60 hours a week as an anesthesiologist and pitching in with his three children, which were ages five and younger.

“My daughter is in kindergarten and they always tell her ‘you have to use your time wisely,” Gibbs said. “I don’t think that really sticks until you get older and the more layers of responsibility you have.”

Managing distractions

In the end, in any industry, successful people are the ones who can best manage their time. In today’s business world, time management is easier and more difficult than ever at the same time.

There is no shortage of apps or programs available to help you manage your time. At the beginning of February, Lifehack.com published its 18 best time management tools for 2019.

Among them:

  • RescueTime, which will track and report to you where you wasting time.
  • TimeTree, a shared calendar with your family members.
  • Focus@Will, an app aimed at boosting your attention span.
  • 1Password, a program to save all your passwords so you don’t have to hunt for them.
  • Remember The Milk, synchronizes all your devices to help you manage your tasks.

Each one of these, if used correctly, can help you unlock precious minutes to be more productive.

The key, though, is wanting to manage your time more effectively. People “work” more hours than ever. The Harvard Business Review reported that the average business owner works 72 hours a week.

How much of that actually is work, though? Maui Mastermind did a large study of business owners and C Level executives and found that 30 percent of this “work” was no-value activities.

In a typical week:

  • They spent 6.8 hours a week doing low-level work that they could have paid someone else to do.
  • They spent 3.9 hours a week watching YouTube videos or checking in on social media.
  • They spent 3.4 hours a week checking on low-value emails.
  • They spent 3.2 hours a week handling low-value interruptions that someone else on staff could have handled.
  • They spent 1.8 hours a week handling low-value requests from staff.
  • They spent 1.8 hours a week putting out preventable fires.
  • Finally, they spent 1 hour a week sitting in non-productive meetings.

That’s 21.8 hours a week where, if you managed your time better, you could be spending it relaxing and focusing on growing yourself or your business.

Follow a plan

Ed Molitor, a former college basketball coach who now is an executive coach in Chicago, teaches his clients how to manage time like coaches manage practices.

Time blocking.

“People tend to think that activity, being busy, is a sign of being successful and it’s not,” Molitor said during his What Works Podcast. “It’s the quality of the activity you are doing and how efficiently you are doing it.”

Molitor, who runs the Molitor Group in Chicago, says you have to be intentional with your time “because you only have so much energy in a day.”

Molitor advises his clients to essentially create a practice plan each day, and to program in time to deal with the emergencies that inevitably comeup.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they try to have every minute of the day occupied,” Molitor said. “You have to leave white space because life happens.”

By planning out your day, and sticking to the schedule, you create the habits that keep you working on what will actually get you ahead and not bogged down in minutiae that doesn’t push your dream forward.

“When you really set out to do something, each day matters.”

Trevor Gibbs followed that advice, even if he didn’t know he was following it. Gibbs said he constantly looked for chunks of time during the day to shift his focus from anesthesiology to the Anestand.

“If I knew I was going to have two hours in between surgeries, I didn’t run to lunch, I pulled out my laptop to work on the Anestand,” he said. If he was working an especially long day, he knew he’d have fewer hours scheduled the next day so he’d set some meetings for the Anestand.

“What I’ve discovered is that I really enjoy product development,” Gibbs said. “It’s not that I don’t enjoy being an anesthesiologist, but I never have felt like I was working when I’d pull out the computer to work on the Anestand. My goal is for the Anestand not to just be a product but a company with a full line of products.”

Anestand still is in the process of making moulds and parts. The first completed Anestands may be ready by May.