Time Management: What You Do Have Control Over (Tip #2)

In my last post, we identified many of the forces that are pushing us and our organizations into time oblivion, where we are focused on “doing”: no one has enough time and we run around addicted to a frenetic pace of being “needed”.

And, sometimes it’s “the system” that creates conditions in which it is very difficult for us to see any other options for how we might operate any differently.

Many of our workplaces are like that – the culture is one that supports people tied to their desks (or their handheld device), providing immediate responses to emails or stuck in long meetings, only then to start their work day after a 7 hour day of consecutive meetings.

We often don’t recognize the cost of this mode of operating. Make no mistake about it, it does have a cost to us both personally and to the organizations we serve.

Because systems are complex structures, it takes significant self-discipline to draw the line yourself and decide what you are going to do differently. The organization will take whatever you will give it. That is the nature of the system.

So the only person who can negotiate how the work comes in (pace and nature of the work to some extent), manage your output, and moderate your stress levels, is you.

The tip for this week is to recognize the “systems” at play which keep you operating in your current mode, and get very clear about ‘what is in your control’ to do something differently. I believe that in most jobs these days, you do have discretionary control over the following:

1. Becoming skillful at negotiating and re-negotiating priorities, which includes learning to see “no” not as an outright “no” ( and therefore labeled a poor team player), but rather “no” as a negotiation;

2. Recognizing your own internal “habits” that may keep you over-invested in specific areas and unwilling to separate yourself. For example, an inability to delegate because you believe only you can do the work to a specific standard, or you have a strong desire to feel needed; and,

3. Using a good time management system that ensures you get to the most important work for your role.

Does this stand true for you? If so, then stay tuned. We’ll expand on all three of these areas in coming posts.

Joanne Spalton, Senior Consultant