Robby Slaughter opened the discussion with a reminder that time management is really about everyday work, balancing focus and interruptions, and finding a system that works for you:
Routine tasks really occupy a well-defined period of our time. They occupy that time we use to focus on our work during the course of our day. They occupy what we think about as our jobs, or the things we do every day.
And although we call it time management…it’s not really the time we are trying to manage. Time is not something we can really store up or trade, like money. So instead of trying to manage time, perhaps we should try to manage our focus, and how our focus is taken away from us: as distractions or interrupts.
It’s great to study the literature [on time management and find a system], but ultimately everybody’s time is their own time, everybody’s focus is their own focus. The work that you do in your job—no matter what you do—is mostly what happens when no one is looking. So ultimately whatever system you are going to use, you have to invent and define and expand for yourself.
(A full breakdown of the workshop session is archived at the IWST website and includes some great thoughts by the other speakers. )
While individual time management is crucial, we should ask whether or not the culture and workflow of organization impacts our ability to manage time. The answer is clear: time management is productivity, so company success is limited to the amount of work made possible by the working environment.
Consider the following examples:
- If the unwritten expectation at your office is that emails will be answered within the hour, all employees must be ready to stop work and answer email at practically any time.
- If routine tasks do not have well-defined, documented patterns, people will ask the same question over and over again; forcing actual work to take longer and be more prone to mistakes.
- If meetings usually start five minutes late, attendees will have less incentive to be prompt, organized or end on time.
If you are struggling with time management, ask yourself if larger challenges in your organization contribute to your personal issues. It may just be that you need to take control of your calendar and change your individual strategies. We can not only help you manage your time, but better manage the operation which makes time management difficult. Contact our consultants at AccelaWork today!