“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
We live in a hectic world full of schedules and deadlines. Whether it be a stay-at-home parent or the CEO of a global company, 24 hours a day just doesn’t seem to cut it. To stay healthy, it appears the recipe for succeeding is sleeping 7-8 hours a night, eating healthily, exercising, doing enjoyable things such as seeing friends and just winding down every now and then. In addition to these “tasks” there is work. And often in certain job descriptions work follows home. So, it is not surprising that around 10% of the general population in Finland experience serious psychological stress (YLE, 2018).
Our company at times creates stress to itself by functioning ineffectively. For some reason one delusion seems to be, that the more time we spend together at the premises, the more effective and professional we are. But as it often turns out, we tend to discuss of non-work related matters even more so than the work itself. At least in my case, I easily lose focus when others are around giving the option of simply enjoying the great company. Also, when we have many hours of our workweek dedicated to meetings we a) have less time, once again, for actual work and b) the option to always postpone important discussions and decision making until the next time. The idea of staying busy and achieving great things might work to an extent, but usually the result is mindless productivity- the constant need of doing something and the tendency to waste time on insignificant tasks. So, what could be done better?
As said, work takes longer to finish, because of poor time management and this grabs the biggest stake of the distractions, 38% (FinancesOnline, 2019). So, an easy solution: plan and prioritize your work. We have planned our weekly calendar, but there is no clear model for prioritizing our tasks. At worst, we have changed the subject of a meeting or training session the same day as someone realizes that maybe some other subject is more acute or relevant at that moment. Usually something, that has just not been thought of before. Therefore, probably one of the easiest ways to prioritize tasks and make sure they are conformed adhered is to categorize tasks to important and urgent (must be addressed right away), important but not urgent (can be postponed to near future), urgent but not important (tasks that could be delegated) and not urgent and not important (low priority, maybe even meaningless) (Osterhaus, E. 2019). Once achieving tasks and being able to tick them off the list, motivation towards ticking other tasks grow and thus may increase efficiency. Our team is very prone to the sense of success and failure. Also, we are totally frustrated at the moment of the nature of our common meetings.
Maximizing office hours may sound boring and somewhat utopian, but it’s actually very crucial and easy, once you get the hold of it. A very concrete example: saving money. When someone wants to save money, what do they do? They keep account of the incoming and outgoing money. Now they have a clear view how much they need and how much they get. In order to get accurate data, the movement of the money needs to be tracked in detail. What is the money used on and who or what provides you the money. Through these can be made a plan for saving. This same technique can be implemented in time management. What do you spend your time on (measured in detail) and is there a possibility of gaining more time somehow (prioritizing and delegating).
Delegating is a necessary skill for leading roles especially. But it also requires practice. A good leader can delegate tasks to others, without handing out all the odd jobs and enjoying themselves the fun parts. The result should be beneficial for both parties; the leader gets more time doing necessary tasks implemented for them and the employee gains the feel of trust and improves their skills with the new tasks. It is in our nature to cope alone until a total breakdown happens. Why is it so hard to ask for help? I for one needed to do the cleaning at home myself, because I trusted only myself to do it in the level that it’s actually satisfactory. Now that I’ve had less time for any housework and someone else has done it, I realize it was my own stupidity to assume something and not giving credit to others. The same implies to any work we do inside our team.
FinancesOnline, 2019. Read 24.5.2019
Osterhaus, E. 2019. QuickBooks. Read 24.5.2019
YLE, 2018. NEWS. Read 24.5.2019