Time Management

It’s becoming increasingly obvious this technology is crushing us under the invisible weight of its sheer volume. It is a BEAST! The days of the pink phone message note we pressed onto the spikey thing on the desk are long gone. Phone mail and e-mail are typically abused and over-used, and consume vast amounts of time, hard drive and our living, inner drive. We have to figure out boundaries with that stuff and try to impress upon our sometimes over-zealous but committed staffs how to recognize the invisible line of what we do need and don’t need to know. My oldest son Dylan has figured it out; he calls it “Strategic Release of Information.” Clearly, it’s an art, not a science.

My Philosophy

I suggest you develop a system that works for you, and then stick to it. Any system will work if the underlying value associated with it is that you need to be accountable for delivering your product in an efficient way and that you honor and respect the time of those with whom you interact. If you place those simple values into your schedule, meetings will start on time, they won’t last an hour when they only need 30 minutes, and there will be a strange, accompanying satisfaction of real progress. By the way, I challenge you to schedule meetings in 30-minute blocks instead of the customary one-hour ones and see what happens. If going to 30 minutes is too cold turkey, try 45 and ease the pain. Here are a few more tips that may help:

Delegate and empower subordinates

Establish short-term, mid-term and long-term priorities.

Don’t waste other people’s time; you’re just wasting yours

Ensure all meetings include only needed people

Do not commit yourself to unimportant activities, no matter how far away they are

Keep things simple

Manage your important decision-making processes

Throw unneeded things away

Read Stephen Covey’s Big Rocks, Pickle Jar Theory; it’s a one pager, not a book

Most importantly, set boundaries for yourself. You have to be able to come to work with energy and enthusiasm. I used to be able to do three night meetings in a week. I just can’t do that anymore; two is my limit. It took too much out of me, destroyed my enthusiasm reserves and left my life way out of balance. I also book one day a week that I won’t schedule any formal meetings so I can play catch up. I call it, “Thursday, the new Friday”!

Figure out if you’re a person who needs structure or you can keep it loose, but above all, do a check-in with your values and develop a system that is in alignment. Hopefully, your values are in agreement with your organization.

Donald Bessler is the Director of Parks, Open Space & Public Facilities for Longmont, Colo. He can be reached via e-mail at Don_Bessler@ci.longmont.co.us.

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