To Do or Not To Do – Is that The Question?

Que es el Tiempo?

Time can be defined as the continued, indefinite progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future when regarded as a whole. Einstein referred to time as the fourth dimension, intertwined with our other three space dimensions, making one giant spacetime sort of thingy (his words), and then something about black holes. I don’t know, what, do I look like some sort of him?

Back when I was a stupid teenager, I had a realization that, since the past and future are intangible events, there cannot really be a present. How can there be a middle with no ends? And if there’s no middle, there’s no definable present, so there’s no such thing as time. My head exploded and I died shortly after.

Some would agree that time is an illusion, and others describe it as one constant event, everything happening all at once, but perceived by our dumb brains as separate and discernible. Whatever time is, we all need it, but never seem to have enough of it.

Making time for others

You are always being asked for a moment of your time. A moment here, a moment there – the moments add up quickly, and your time is valuable, so you need to spend it wisely. If someone is asking for your time, and you have no moment to spare, ask them to email you instead. I’ve been on one (thousand) too many hour-long conference calls that could have been summed up in a paragraph and emailed to me. Same goes for most meetings. Meetings should almost always start with a predetermined outline of the discussion or at least a list of goals to be met during the session. Otherwise, you can expect plenty of time to be wasted. I work more and more from home, but my job also required presence at the office regularly.

As a manager, my employees take up the majority of my time. Whether I am answering their questions, correcting their mistakes, or just shouting obscenities at them, it’s important that I divide my time accordingly, so that my other duties do not suffer. If I do not, escalated issues from unhappy customers could wind up being ignored while I’m busy threatening an employee’s job security. Efficiently managing my time is crucial in order to ensure that I can properly ruin everyone’s day.

So, as long as you are avoiding time-wasters and dividing your time for others based on each task’s level of importance, you will be able to handle a larger workload. But, what about your own time? I’ll tell you what about your own time, just give me a moment.
Saving time for yourself

You’re sitting at your desk, taking care of everyone else, watching the clock tick, and wondering when you will be able to tend to your own responsibilities – or at least grab lunch. Your plate is full, but not with food. The only thing being chewed up and swallowed is your personal time. So if you can, try to apply some Feng Shui principles to your office (or your home office for that matter).

Delegation is key to removing the less important tasks from your to-do list, like time-consuming data entry or licking envelopes. When you should be assessing productivity, making sure the ship stays afloat, and a bunch of nonsense gets dropped on your desk without even a moment’s notice, you need someone (or a team of someones) who can take it all off of your hands. That’s why Don Draper has a secretary, although that’s probably not what he considered during the hiring process.

Some of your daily busy work can be automated, such as sending client reports, running certain email processes, or pulling the fire alarm. Bottom line: if you can get a robot to do it, why do it yourself? Robots have no feelings, so you can overwork them until their circuits catch fire. I’ve tried this with my human employees and it’s not as effective, although they still catch fire if you do it right.

Pick an hour or two each day to focus on your own obligations, and do not allow any interruptions during this time. Hang up a “do not disturb” sign if need be. If it’s not an emergency, it can wait. As long as you are consistent, your employees will take notice and keep away during that daily stretch of time. If you work in a very busy environment and are unable to fully shut out your employees, fearing they will burn the office to ashes without your supervision, you may want to install an internal chat program. That way, you can keep an open line of communication while still concentrating primarily on your own duties.

Time is an elusive concept in the first place, making time management seem like an impossible feat, especially if your job is to balance an endless number of responsibilities. Assessing the importance of each task that gets thrown at you, delegating the less crucial, and setting aside a specific period of time to crush your personal workload will not only ease your daily stress intake but will grant you more time to sit around on your ass, pretending to be busy.