To help with work-life balance, we have changed staff meetings so that they start at 3:30pm rather than 4pm, with the aim of allowing everyone to finish the meeting and be back at their normal place of work by the notional end of the working day (yeah right) at 5pm. Except, of course, that rather than lasting from 4-5pm, they now go on from 3:30-5pm. That is progress.
Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category
I’m currently dealing with lots of students asking for extensions to project deadlines.
One thing that we often say to students is “No, we can’t give you an extension. Imagine if you were at work—you wouldn’t go to your boss and say ‘I’m running late, can I have more time.’.”
But people do, all of the time, in all sorts of workplaces. One of the perennial issues in books and courses about project management is how to deal with overruns and delays.
So, perhaps we need to find another reason for being strict about deadlines.
I’d rather that someone was accurately vague than precise but wrong. For example, I’d rather that a student or colleague said “I’ll be able to come and find you for ten minutes sometime between 4 and 5 o’clock” rather than “I’ll see you for ten minutes at 4 o’clock” and then show up at 4:45.
People who think that I’m pedantic and autistic about appointments don’t realise this. They think that I want everything nailed down, and so endeavour to be exact even when that isn’t possible. The problem is that they think I am going to be unsettled/offended at the imprecision. The imprecision as such doesn’t bother me—it’s spurious precision that I’m offended by.
A thought about time-management. If you want to get hold of someone who is busy with lots of appointments for a “quick chat”, a good time to do so is at around 15 minutes to the hour. Many busy people have hour-long diary slots, even for things that don’t last a full hour, and at XX:45 they are likely to be both free from their previous meeting and not too close to the next one.
An observation about writing (might apply to other forms of work): a piece of writing will feel like it is approximately 50% complete up until the point at which it is 90% complete.
Here is an interesting time management observation. In a lot of organisations, including where I work, a large number of requests come in with the timescale for response being As Soon As Possible. Occasionally, requests come in with a specific time scale; “by next Thursday”, for example. Bizarrely, I tend to respond to these requests quicker than those that say ASAP. I think that this is a mixture of “so many things are marked ASAP, so I have to schedule everything marked ASAP, so ASAP starts to mean ‘when I can schedule it'”. As a result all the ASAP things go through an explicit scheduling process, by contrast the unusual “by next Thursday” type requests don’t get held up in this scheduling system. There is a also a vague sense that the person who has taken the trouble to give a precise date has put more thought into when they need the response by.