The best-laid plans for managing time are always to some extent in the hands of others. Nobody works entirely alone. An unexpected telephone call can throw a day’s plans into chaos. Learn to reconcile other people’s time management with your own.
Assessing Work Roles
The extent to which you compromise your plans for somebody else depends on your relationship with that person. Consider, for example, whether you should call an urgent meeting that includes your boss, without discussing it first. Your boss may resent being involved in a meeting without prior consultation – perhaps he or she may have information that alters the agenda or makes the meeting unnecessary. It is essential always to think through the decisions you make when dealing with colleagues at all levels of seniority.
Reviewing Your Assumptions
Many people make erroneous judgments about what constitutes good management of time – it is easy to confuse someone seeming to be busy with them working hard and managing their time well.
When working with others, analyze their work practices before making assumptions about their productivity. Consider whether you could save time by adapting your work methods to mirror theirs, or vice-versa.
Everyone is motivated by different aspects of their job. If you think your workmates could make better use of their time, consider whether they are demotivated. This could be because :
- They do not get enough work to do – in which case, redistribute work around the department to ensure everyone has a busy schedule;
- They feel frustrated because they are not interested in the work they are doing – discuss a more fulfilling program of work;
- They feel overworked – help them to develop their time-management skills or consider whether they can reduce their workload.
You work with others most often when attending meetings. Organizing a meeting between busy people can be complex and time-consuming. It takes time to set up, prepares an agenda, travels to and from a meeting, and follow up.
On top of which, meetings take up time that participants could spend on other activities.
Always ask yourself if it is really necessary to bring people together. You might be able to save time by not calling a meeting, but instead speaking to individuals by phone, for example. If all the participants work for the same organization, it will be to your mutual benefit if time spent in meetings is kept to a minimum.
- Think before you interrupt anyone.
Call a meeting only after considering other options.