Respecting The Clock / Time Management

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If there is anything I hate, it is being late! I absolutely cannot stand to show up for an event or appointment past the appointed hour and find situations will make me late – even when they are beyond my control – horribly stressful!

I am embarrassed to admit that on September 11, 2001, I was sitting at Washington’s Dulles airport on a fully loaded 747 airplane bound for Narita, Japan via Chicago. I was only going as far as Chicago; flying out and back in the same day for a very important client meeting. As a very frequent flier, I had arrived at the airport early and was enjoying my morning coffee and catching the early news in an airline club lounge when the horrible events of the day began to unfold.

Even after seeing two planes crash in New York on the Today Show, the magnitude of what was happening was beyond comprehension. My years of sage traveling experience was telegraphing to my brain that the likelihood of my day trip not getting fouled up in air traffic delays was pretty low. I was so stressed out as I boarded my flight – not over the tragedy unfolding – but in the fear that I was about to get stuck in a delay and miss my meeting.

Yes, the plane was jammed with travelers. I was in the business class section and frantically working my Blackberry trying to see if I was going to be delayed. I checked with the flight attendant (who was certain we would not be impacted “that’s in New York, this is Washington!”), sent emails to my office, called my travel agent (not yet open), my sister in Ohio, anything to get some sliver of news as to whether this mess in New York might impact my trip. After sitting and waiting, I finally decided to bag the flight and got off. My ‘sixth sense’ told me not to fly and I knew I’d never make my meeting. In my own defense, no one could fathom the horror of that day or the magnitude of the crisis that would befall our nation.

I share my story not to paint myself as some insensitive oaf, but to make the point that sometimes events do make it impossible to have complete control of the clock. I count my blessings that my plane was not one chosen that day for use as a weapon of mass destruction. And I am reminded that the time we have is precious. The work we have to do is important and we must never taken even a second for granted.

But there are many things we can do to respect the clock and more effectively manage our time in the year ahead. If you can find ways to more effectively manage and respect the clock, you will find a much less stressed 2013 in your path!

Some things you might consider as you look for ways to not waste your time:

1. Give up being a perfectionist! Striving for excellence should always be your goal, but driving yourself mad by seeking perfection is an unnecessarily ridiculous time waster. Be your best, but you’ll watch the time waste away trying to eek out the nth degree of perfect!

2. Reversely, make sure your first effort at anything is a serious attempt. Nothing is a bigger waste of time, energy and resources than the lame, half-hearted effort that only has to be done (and redone!) later. If it is worth doing, give it a serious try the first time!

3. Plan your work / work you plan. I see so much stress come from people who go through life by just “winging it.” No real plan or organization to their life or even their day. What a time waster that is! You don’t start building a house without a blueprint and all of the needed construction materials for the first phase staged at the job site, why would your day deserve less? Quit wasting time by not taking five minutes to just get a plan together! It is so easy and the return is ten-fold!

4. Stop procrastinating! Nothing chews up the minutes more than the five-minute job from last week that, left unattended, became the 30 minute job on this week’s to-do list. Everyone should have a list of the nasty jobs that must be accomplished and make it a point to tackle one each day until they are done. Putting it off won’t do anything but make your time management situation even worse! Putting them on slips of paper in a jar in the kitchen that everyone in the household can share is a great way to teach everyone the importance of “working the list.”

5. Seek understanding when you don’t know how. Ego loves to dine on time and when your pride stands in the way of asking for help on a project – or something as simple as directions – just stand back and watch the minutes to your day tick away. This year, don’t be afraid – or too proud – to ask someone for a little help or direction when you need it. The time it gives you back will astound you!

Time is a precious resource. What is amazing about it is that we are all given the same amount each day. Rich or poor, famous or infamous, we all have the exact same 24 hours to invest daily. Learn how to spend yours wisely this year. You control when and where you invest it. Learn to say no. Learn not to overcommit your time to people, things and responsibilities that are not necessary or important. Find ways to scale back the time you might be wasting on mindless things.

How can you learn to respect the clock in 2013 and become a better steward of time? It is a laudable goal and one I hope I can succeed at. Let me know how you are doing at it!

One thought on “Respecting The Clock / Time Management

  1. Thank you for sharing this story. In that situation and giving what you knew at that time, I think I would have felt and acted very similarly. I truly hate being late and sometimes even experience anxiety because of it. I just hope I would have had the same foresight to cancel my trip!

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