A lot of us struggle with time and work management. Let’s try and see some limiting time management styles which could be impacting us.. see if any of these stories resonate with you.
Sanjana comes in to office at 9 am every day and sits on till 7 pm. 10 hours of continuous work – hardly any coffee breaks and lunch on the workstation! Yet, she feels as if she hasn’t been productive. There is just too much on her plate – and every day is full of fire-fights. As soon as she gets started with a task, another one pops up in the mailbox and she has to drop the first task and address the more pressing one. Sanjana feels fatigued and stressed out every day.
How many of you feel like Sanjana? Well if you do feel like her most of the time, you may have a fireman’s attitude to time management – you may keep flitting from one task to another, not completing any and feeling stressed and unproductive at the end of the day.
The biggest challenge for the firemen is prioritization as they treat each task with the same level of importance and urgency and tend to get lost in a flood of tasks.
Rahul is the nicest and the most helpful person you would ever meet. He is the go-to guy for any queries that you may have on various software’s and programs. He has been the buddy to many new joinees in the organization, making them familiar with the company’s products and also with other things such as admin formalities, must-knows etc. On any typical day, Rahul has people visiting his cubicle multiple times with queries and concerns and Rahul spends a good amount of time helping them with it. By the end of the day, Rahul has many of his priorities unfinished though he may have helped others with theirs.
If you can identify with Rahul, you probably have the ‘over-committer’ attitude to time management – you may commit to doing things that are out of your work area to others and in the process take too much on your plate.
The biggest challenge for over-committers is their inability to say no. This leads to them staring at a huge to-do list which is almost impossible to attain. In case they prioritise other’s work over theirs (so as not to break a commitment), they may end up getting delayed on their own projects. In case they prioritise their own work over others, their commitments remain unfulfilled leading to loss of reputation.
Anil can’t remember the last time he planned for a task and worked as per that plan. Since he was in school, he has the habit of studying at the last minute for his exams, running at the last moment to the bus stop, preparing on the last day for a job interview and so on. Infact, he feels that he just cannot get himself to work unless there is a huge timeline pressure and there really is no option but to get down to working. This puts his other team-mates in stress especially of their work is dependent on Anil finishing his tasks as Anil’s part of the work hits them at the last moment. They keep pushing Anil to plan ahead but Anil just cannot get himself to do it.
If you feel like Anil, you may have a ‘laid-back’ attitude to time management. In most cases, as your work is inter-dependent with others, you’ll start facing a lot of inter-personal challenges (even if your work is finally delivered on time). There may also be issues in the quality of your work as it gets done in a hurry. Also, you may not find time for taking up extra work that pops up suddenly.
The biggest challenge with laid-back persons is procrastination – just getting things started. This may be due to an attitudinal issue or due to a long set habit or due to an inability to break a large goal into small parts and get started.
Pinki was born to socialize. She loves chatting with people, has excellent oral communication skills and is bubbling with information, ideas and gossip. She knows literally everyone in office and everyone knows her. She has a different coffee group, a lunch group, an after lunch walk group and many other groups. And when she is not in a group, she is standing by someone’s cubicle and having a ‘quick’ chat about ‘something interesting that she heard’. Its not like she does this intentionally, she just loses track of time while chatting with someone and a 5 minute break ends up being a 25 minute one. Pinki feels overwhelmed in the evening when she sees her to-do list and realizes that almost everything she had to do in the day is still pending.
If you can identify with Pinki, you have the ‘chatty-kathy’ syndrome. You have a huge preference to ‘talk’ rather than ‘do’ and you find it difficult to keep focused on your work for long periods of time.
The biggest challenge for Chatty-Kathy’s is to keep focused and not get distracted by the need to socialise.
Arvind is obsessed with perfection. He has always been like this since he was a kid – he wanted an ironed shirt and polished shoes always, his notebooks were properly indexed, underlined and highlighted. At work, exactitude is the word for Arvind. He has to be sure about every detail before sending an email or proposal or making any decision. His documents and files have to be error-free and he checks and re-checks them several times to ensure that. He feels that no job done quickly can be good and looks down upon others who work ‘smart and quick’ as people who deliver poor quality work. He cannot trust others easily and tends to get into details on each and every thing. Due to his need to always deliver error-free work, Arvind takes much more time than others on his tasks and is constantly working behind schedules. He works over 14 hours a day but still has pending tasks on his list everyday.
If you feel like Arvind, you may have a ‘perfectionist’ syndrome. You over-tax yourself and others in your team to deliver perfect work each and every time and in the process, work may end up being delayed.
The biggest challenge for perfectionists is to delegate and trust others. They may also need to consider the value of being perfect on each and every task and be ok with ‘quick response over perfect response’ at times.
Are you any of these people or are you a little bit of some of them? What are you doing about it? In my next blog, I will talk about some effective ways to break these limiting habits and personality traits.
“It’s play that makes us do serious stuff better”. That’s the philosophy on which Priti has founded The Catalyst.
Priti’s sales stint at Unilever in her initial corporate stint and her strategy consulting role at Accenture allowed her to have a deep perspective of how businesses run and she combined this with her entrepreneurial dream of running an immersive learning venture to start The Catalyst in 2009.