EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT

I went on a course once. Nothing new there, I went on every course going; from Health and Safety to Advanced Silent Killing. Well, if they’d had a course on that I’d have applied for it. The advanced killing thing, not the Health and Safety one. They had a whole series of those and I went on them all.

One or two proved useful beyond getting me out of the office for a while, but I don’t remember most of them. Fire Safety was useful I think, and I once stopped someone bleeding to death from a cut artery using emergency first aid skills learned in a bowdlerised version of ‘Don’t Let Him Die’. Well, possibly. I suspect someone else could have worked out what to do before they bled out, but you never know. Kinetic Handling may have stopped me pulling a back muscle moving furniture about and Assertiveness Training made me realise there was nothing wrong with my self esteem, just something wrong with my bosses who wanted a shouty idiot rather than someone who might actually think about stuff before opening their mouth.

But none of them would have helped me in my current circumstances.

I remember the jokes we made in the meet and greet coffee break before the course I am thinking about started. Effective Time Management. Was this effective use of our time? We were disappointed when every speaker made exactly the same joke before each slot designed to make you a better corporate drone.

There was scheduling of course. What time is the most productive and tips to overcome the mid afternoon slump. Thoughts about how to get the most from meetings, one to one to full committee. Don’t use them to decide anything was the best tip from memory. Get the decision first and use meetings to stroke the egos of participants to buy in. There was no choice but make them feel appreciated. Cynical but effective. Oh yes, and always have a cut off time. And stick to it.

I didn’t like that course. I really did need it but I couldn’t see any of the ideas put forward being anything other than pie in the sky, or ‘aspirational’ as far as I was concerned.

If there was a task did I stop doing it because there was a cut off? Did I plough on if there wasn’t ‘buy in’? What was the methodology if everyone else’s prioritisation dynamics were on a slightly different stovepipe track to mine? Did I dismantle the stovepipe and construct a flat bedded, horizontally integrated, low rise hierarchy before declaring the task nugatory?

I noted that effective time management in the field seemed to take second, third or hundredth place to presentism, whereas the theory said define boundaries and don’t be there if there was nothing to do.

I remembered one of the segments on setting time boundaries suggested having due regard to the practical sensibilities of everyone in the task or project and being flexible where possible, and firm where necessary in light of the goal.

Goals.

That was my main problem. No goal. Some people had callings, vocations, needs and commitment. I’d waited all of my life for some sort of revelation which had yet to arrive.

Or it had been my main problem up till now.

Now, an apparent lack of flexibility on the time boundary appeared to be the problem.

I hadn’t got a major goal in life, but I had many things I wanted to do. It had become clear to me that life obviously closed down certain avenues of choice as it progressed. One of the mantras I had worked out for myself rather than trawling through the list of training courses was you can’t go back. Yet I had spent a lot of time waiting for the second route to certain options to present themselves, which of course they never had. But I accepted the idea in general and had planned, or rather not planned accordingly. Rather than ploughing the same furrow, I had taken new forks in the road at random and looking back the forest had closed behind me. It felt like an odd corollary to the crap mantras on desks of the put upon and petty office tyrants ‘your lack of planning is not my emergency’. My emergency was my lack of planning.

Though I suddenly had a worryingly imminent deadline in my project diary I had an apparent infinity of tasks yet to complete.

What would my course notes say I should do?

They were long gone of course. Sacrificed on the altar of low physical storage in the era of the paperless office, designed by low clutter architects for those with the attention span of a three year old. But even had I been able to access them from some digital repository, I couldn’t see they were going to tell me what to do with my last six months.

Make a list of prioritised goals I should imagine would be the best to be culled from the pages.

Sod that.

Never needed any stupid goals so far.

Stop worrying and plough on as fast as you can.

And don’t look over your shoulder.

 

Just in case anyone is wondering/worrying – this is fiction remember, and in no way autobiographical. As far as I know I have many future occasions for procrastination, lack of goals and hedonistic irresponsibility. (fingers crossed).

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