Thursday, February 02, 2020

Will Time Management Help?

The Chicago Sun-Times has weighed in on the question of maintaining work/life balance:
As companies run leaner operations with fewer workers, they're asking more from those still employed. While the increased productivity makes companies more profitable, the greater demands on workers can leave many feeling overwhelmed, burned out and losing any work-life balance they might have had.
The article draws heavily on ideas about time management put forward by Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check E-Mail In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work. Echoing some of the ideas of Slow Leadership, Morgenstern says people are subjected to what she calls an "instant response culture" that operates in "staccato" mode. What's needed is more of a "legato," with enough time for the thoughtful, more complex approaches companies need.

The newspaper quotes Erin Brennan, 29, a vice president of Hunter Public Relations in New York, who claims that adopting this approach has given her a greater sense of control over her workday, allocating her time carefully to ensure she has time to focus on what matters to her most, while still allowing some "empty" time for the unplanned, unexpected tasks that crop up in any day. Brennan told the paper:
I'll tell myself, 'You're in staccato mode now. Slow down and focus. Then I can get into the mind-set of, 'I'm going to really concentrate on this now.' After all, it's the long-term projects that are the reason your company has you on board.
Using effective time management techniques may well be beneficial, but I think the principal reason for Ms. Brennan's success is her willingness to set priorities and stick to them, not leap from one "urgent" task to the next in a random fashion.

There's another point Ms. Morgenstern makes that's worth thinking about. She says:
Sometimes it's not you! Sometimes it's them holding you back.
One of the main reasons for stress when things get tough is superstition: specifically the one that says when things go wrong it's because someone "up there" is punishing you for something you've done wrong. It's believing the Universe has shifted itself specifically to make your life a misery. Put like that, it's plainly ludicrous, but you still constantly hear people asking "Why me?" whenever something goes wrong. Why you? There's no reason—and definitely no guilt. It just happens. Human minds are poor at accepting the working of blind chance. We seem naturally to assume that everything has a specific cause.

So if you're feeling overworked and pressured, try these approaches. They really work.
  • Stand back and set proper priorities, then stick to them.
    Ration your time carefully.

  • Allow some time every day for the unexpected.

  • When things go wrong, never assume there's any reason beyond chance. Let go of any feelings of guilt. Simply get on with what needs to be done.

  • If you find yourself working in "staccato" mode (or even "prestissimo"), slow down, take a deep breath and go back to a mixture of "legato" and "a temp giusto."

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James Shewmaker said...

It would be helpful if we dropped the phrase "Time Management" and adopted the phrase "Time Allocation." The Allocation of time should be based on the degree of how deeply I value that which is affected by my presence and conduct during that allotment.

10:30 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Good point, James. I guess it's become an automatic term. Your definition is surely better.

10:33 AM  

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