CONQUER TIME, DON’T LET IT CONQUER YOU

We always face problems getting work done on time. So it is worth reminding ourselves about ‘Time Management’. Our biggest problem with time is time itself. Time Lost cannot be regained; time waits for no man.

We have basically reached the end of 2019. In 45 days time, bells, car horns, loud music and fireworks will herald the burial of another long hard year as we step into 2020 – a year which carries a lot of significance for us: fresh general elections, 40th Independence anniversary celebrations, LDC graduation, and Forum 2020 which Vanuatu will host after the 41st session we hosted back in 2010, to name a few. We thought we were busy this year, but the worst is yet to come.

Work comes with one golden but very limited resource, time. A favourite writer once said, ‘the value of time is beyond computation’.

We need to ‘redeem time… we cannot call back even one moment. The only way in which we can redeem our time is by making the most of that which remains’.

Unfortunately we usually don’t. We squander time, and in exchange we say we are ‘too busy.’

A colleague walked into a high ranking office one day (two months ago) to try and finalise a prolonged contract. Guess what the officer was doing? He had a big headphone on and he was ‘busy’ watching a movie on his computer screen at 10am that morning. Another high ranking officer was spotted driving his private public transport (bus) loaded with passengers, again during mid-morning working hours.

I asked if he was on holiday, and the response from his superior was, no he is ‘at work’ this week. Interesting.

The writer cited above continues, ‘there is no excuse for slow bungling at work of any character. When one is always at work and the work is never done, it is because mind and heart are not put into the labor.

The one who is slow and who works at a disadvantage should realize that these are faults to be corrected.

He needs to exercise his [or her] mind in planning how to use the time so as to secure the best results.

By tact and method, some will accomplish as much in five hours as others do in ten. Some…are always at work not because they have so much to do but because they do not plan so as to save time. By their slow, dilatory ways they make much work out of very little.’ This point characterises a lot of us today.

The writer continues, ‘but all who will, may overcome these fussy, lingering habits.

In their work let them have a definite aim. Decide how long a time is required for a given task, and then bend every effort toward accomplishing the work in the given time.

The exercise of the will power will make the hands move deftly’ (Christs Object Lesson, pages 342-344).

Hundreds of books and articles have been written on the subject of time management. This article doesn’t seek to teach anyone about time management, but rather highlight a few pertinent points on the subject, as presented in the quotations above.

In 1999 I spent 5 months in the European Capital – Brussels working on close to 50 projects for a few Pacific Islands enterprises for funding by this EU organisation. One day I got called up by the Director to go and meet him on the 5th floor of the building at Avenue Hermann Debroux.

First question was on Vanuatu projects. How many? I indicated a few, giving excuses more than the number of projects he expected from me. In my mind I had a very important excuse – I had just started the agency we now call “VIPA” and was very busy with it when I was called to go to Brussels.

The Director listened to me quietly then he uttered a phrase that has stuck in my mind to this very day. If you don’t have time, ‘Create Time’. ‘Create Time’ – can I? Can we?

You say, but I am a Director General, a Director, a Head of Government agency. I get called to too many abrupt and unplanned meetings in any given day. I don’t have time to get my work done.

Sounds very familiar excuse? How about those wasted hours of nothingness and unproductivity? The other question here is, how do we approach work – out of motivation or necessity? If our attitude to work has a lot more to do with money and our salary than a passion for work, then the foundation is already wrong. We are bound to fail or deliver below par.

And when we are DG or Director and are on a mere 3-year contract, there’s simply no time to lose. Every moment counts. Either we deliver results or we don’t.

Dealing with your own time management challenges is only part of the equation.

You got to also help your team of staff understand and apply healthy time management practices.

Their in efficiencies and dilatory habits will eventually take a toll not only on themselves but more so reflect very poorly on you.

Why? Because the buck stops on your executive table. And when it comes to deciding on your contract’s fate, it is not theirs but your neck that’s on the line. If you are DG or Director and your staff are not self-disciplined on the all-important matter of time management, you should be worried sick!

Deal with time management, first and foremost. Time management writer, Patrick Forsyth notes, ‘time management is essentially self management; it demands discipline, but a discipline that is reinforced by habit’. He continues, ‘good habits help ensure that a well-organised approach is brought to bear consistently on the way you plan and work’. Briefly on the subject of time planning, plan your day the evening before or first thing the next morning.

More on the subject of time management another time. For now, learn to ‘create time’ in order to get things done.

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