’So How Do You Manage Your Time’?
And you always thought it was your ‘time’ and your time was your own! With all the good intentions in the world your time would be your time only if you were totally in control of it. Even Dr Who has trouble keeping time with his Tardis. Some folk are expert at controlling the time you spend with them!
“I have a meeting to go to”
“I have patients to see”
Are you an expert too!
Start of a New Day
The first ‘time’ of your day is your ‘arrival’. Are you able to enter the building and your office without being seen. Can you settle in before being attacked. It is good practice to say hello to people at least once a day – this is known as power by walk about – but I’m not at my best first thing! I need a few coffees inside me.
The Junk of the Day
On entering my office do I close the door or keep it open? What if the door has a dodgy lock. What if you have traffic lights outside the door and keep them set to red. Unwelcome visitors eat up your time just like junk mail. Why not let it be known that you will see people at certain times of the day. What if visitors outstay their welcome – you should stand up and walk to the door and open. Now that’s a heavy hint. How many times have you heard I know you’re busy but……. or can you spare a minute? Read the One Minute Manager!
Unsolicited Phone Calls
During the day there will be ‘those’ phone calls. Do you answer every call? Do you ask for your calls to be filtered? Do you ring back every untaken call? I never ring back! How do you know what or who is important particularly if you are new to the job! The answer is you don’t so do you have to have a filtering system commonly known as a secretary or the switchboard. I am not sure that I understand the idea behind of having a direct line with an answering machine message. You never know what your getting and that can just eat into your time.
The Problem with Post and Emails
The next problem with my ‘time’ is the post or emails. I always like to open the post promptly and I like to open and respond to my emails promptly even if it means marking it as junk mail. Don’t be secretive but copy emails and letters to those people that need to see them promptly’. I often hear the complaint I am not kept informed. Apply the principle if it urgent and important to do it first. If it is not urgent and not important put it in the bin? I dislike reading anything longer than two pages, that is the point I loose the will to live. Read the headings. Look for questions, and target dates even though you may ignore them.
Someone else’s Dead Line
Deadlines are the next order of the day. The bane of my life! Who’s deadlines are they anyway? Do they really need to be met today if at all? I would treat deadlines with the same approach as ‘paper’ is it urgent? is it important? Does it actually require your response? Are there more urgent and important things that I need to do at my desk? In the last few years I have noticed a tendency to call meetings and ‘require’ attendance otherwise a financial penalty is applied. Now that’s Nasty.
And there’s meetings for the sake of ‘meetings’
Then there are pre-arranged meetings. Do I need to hold or go to a meeting? Is anyone going to listen to me if I do and will I learn anything really useful? Are there coffee and cakes and not dried up sandwiches. Deadlines in my mind are a way of someone else managing your time not you. A meeting needs a purpose, an agenda, a report or issue to consider. It also needs a chairperson, a good one at that.
And there’s still ‘that’ job to do’
A ‘to do’ list is something I prepare when I need to make a point about my workload. Usually there are tasks to carry out each day, each week, each month, each quarter and each year and the to do list follows a distinct pattern. The tasks vary in difficulty and the skills required. Some take longer than others to do. My memory is not what it used to be, so a list is at least handy. I do send myself emails too and add reminders on my phone. You might have a wall chart to plot what you are doing and what you have achieved. Make sure your bosses know what your successes are!
So you started the day with good intentions. How long did they last? Is it time to go home yet? Is there a way of leaving the building without being seen? Do you tell anyone you are going home? Beware of accusations that you are a part timer if you go home early. Clear your desk as best you can, but don’t make it look as though you haven’t got any work to do. Don’t answer the phone or the door once you have decided to go home. Tomorrow is another day, but as you know tomorrow never comes.
“I’m going to take a course on time management when I can find the time to do it!’
Robert Campbell – July 2018