There is a lot of talk about time management these days. In fact, in these times when technology is bringing new and better innovations to every person on earth at lightning speed, most people have trouble finding time to do everything that is available to them. Business leaders are always on the lookout for new ideas to increase the success of their companies and because there are so many great advancements flying around in cyberspace, they are bombarding their people with more and more information every day. So much information, in fact that people are buckling under the load of it all to the point that workplace stress is rapidly becoming one of the most common reasons for employee absenteeism.
We all must accept that because of the amount of information flying at us every day, we will never be caught up!
It is impossible to get caught up on reading and digesting everything we receive on our computers, so don’t even try. Before we can move beyond the inevitable information overload that technology brings, we must accept that if we don’t learn how to filter the data that we are exposed to, we will never avoid the challenges of the cyber world. As much as the great loads of knowledge that we are subjected to daily will never cease, we must become quite ruthless in the ways we handle it. We must have the courage to discard the useless or almost useless information and retain only that which truly matters to our work. Try this: If you can’t use it to assist you in your job in the near future, don’t read it...delete it or file it immediately!
Technology brings procrastination!
Even the most technologically handicapped of us can sit down at a laptop, a PC or one of the new tablet devices and find ourselves spending hours surfing and socializing. Technology has given us some completely new ways of wasting time that are quite subtle and frighteningly seductive. Facebook, Twitter and Linked in give us outlets for our social needs while also providing valuable information to help us with our jobs and our personal lives. There is a blog available for almost every concept, culture, occupation or opinion in the world and every company on earth that sells anything has a website. The challenge or more appropriately, the goal, should be to eliminate everything that is merely a pleasant pastime and focus on the things that we can actually use to improve our immediate, real-world environment. If you find yourself running out of time, review your day and remind yourself how much time you spent working on your job and how much time you spent staring at your monitor.
Email is time management death!
What did we do before email? ... We sent memo’s on paper via snail-mail or picked up the telephone and spoke with other human beings about our issues. Because both of those options were somewhat laborious and time consuming, we tended to do more things ourselves without outside intervention. Now, with access to cyberspace, whenever we have a question or a thought we spin around in our chairs and send an email. Often we will cc or blind-cc a bunch of other people just to make sure we cover all the possible bases. Then the person who is the primary recipient replies to all and adds a couple of more people to the distribution list just to make sure all of the stakeholders are in the loop. At that point all of the people on the combined distribution lists also reply to all and add a few of their favourite people to the list...And the next thing you know our one, simple question has spawned literally hundreds of emails that are flying around in cyberspace, wasting the time of countless people...some of whom we have never met and never will.
Not only do we waste time reading emails, we waste time waiting for replies to them. In the days before cyberspace when we needed to know something, we took the direct route of a personal visit or a phone call. Now, I find people putting important work off because the person they need information or permission from has not returned their email. When I ask, “Why don’t you just pick up the phone and call them?” I am often told that they don’t want, or will not take phone calls...they prefer to correspond by email. During the past decade I have found myself on several occasions explaining some weighty business subject over the telephone only to be rebuked by the person on the other end, saying something along the lines of, “That’s great. Send me an email explaining what you want and I will be happy to deal with it!” Arrrggghhh!!!
Don’t even get me started on emailed jokes, ads, or chain-letters!
The bottom line is that we have time management problems these days because we allow ourselves to procrastinate and waste time on computer-generated junk mail, spam, indecisiveness, and delays. If you want to move closer to well-managed time, turn off your email, resist the urge to surf, and focus on the job at hand. If you are a leader, impress upon your employees, the need to focus on their work and filter out as much unnecessary cyber-junk as possible. Hey, and here’s a novel idea...Instead of sending multiple emails, pick up the telephone and talk to someone!
There is no shortage of time...we just need to manage it better!
All the best