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Variations of Now - Time Management

How many times have you heard?
  • The days really aren't long enough
  • There is too much pressure
  • Being a manager has never been more difficult.
  • Work's not fun anymore
  • I have tried delegating, but end up doing it myself, anyway 

All of the above have been said to me over and over at various functions and meetings, and I think I've said a few myself.   Twenty years ago, every manager had a secretary or assistant, then in came desktop computing, and we all started doing our own typing, setting up business models etc, and the day of the shared assistant, and then no assistant at all drifted in.

Two types of time managers often emerge during stressful times, those that can't say no, and those that say ''its not my job''.   Methods of dealing with urgent issues divides the leaders from the followers.

One of my favourite stories is from entrepeneur Albert C. Black Jnr and its about the cow in the ditch.   To paraphrase, first get the cow out of the ditch, secondly, find out why the cow is in the ditch, and thirdly make sure that the cow can't fall in the ditch, ever again.

While I try and apply my own time management model, Variations of Now to my day to day realities, I am very much aware of how much of my day is spent on unscheduled issues that arise and need to be dealt with Right Now.    Too many scheduled meetings impact on my flexibility and strategic abilities, and not scheduling means that issues which would have received my attention earlier, at a regular meeting, become challenges and possibly crises.  Striking the balance is not easy.

It has become increasingly clear that models that work are not always implemented at all levels of business.   Operational managers are busy managing the day to day business, and don't give themselves the time to create processes and structures that would make them more effective.   The word give in the previous sentence is key.   As managers and leaders we need to give ourselves the gift of better time management.   We do find it quicker to do things ourselves, and we get that cow out of the ditch quickly, save the day, and while we might ask how it got there and even analyse whether we could prevent it happening again, we often omit to build a structured process that would make the difference.   In fact, some managers believe that being the rescuer makes them invaluable and indispensable.


The response to all 5 comments in the first paragraph is to recognise that leading a great team is much more fun than managing a group of dependent employees.   It takes time to build an empowered team, and it is always a work in progress, but when you find regular time to share your knowledge and skills and grow the people who work with you, it pays you back with more time to do the things that add value.

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