Tag Archives: business time

Only Child resents these work time-stealers

When I was a child my mother didn’t work outside the home – until I was in high school, when she had to because my dad had cancer.  Before that when she was home she did work – albeit house and garden stuff. If she had to go to a doctor’s or dentist’s, it didn’t matter when. If the plumber had to come during the day weekdays, it didn’t matter.

Fast forward to today when many of us work from home, running our own business. I am a writer, editor and writing workshop instructor. Except for the latter and doing book promo in person, I do my work in my home office. Or at least I try.

Lately the non-work-related interruptions have been interfering with my work time. Sometimes I have to go out for them  and sometimes I have to phone them to get something straightened out with the house, ID cards, etc. Most of this stuff is not generated by me. To put it bluntly, it gets shoved at me. And it takes time, often more time than you think.

Take health-related issues, particularly dental and eyes. This spring and now summer it is my left eye. It is in bad shape. Not my fault and not the eye professionals’ fault. What is their fault is the majority of them don’t have evening or Saturday hours. So I have to waste my work-time travelling to appointments, sitting in waiting rooms (sometimes for a couple of hours) and then actually seeing the professional.

And don’t get me on the subject of government agencies who only operate on regular business hours. So you have to take your work time to renew ID cards. At least you can call the bank outside business hours if you have something that needs straightening out.

I know what some of you are thinking. “She runs her own business from home for Pete’s sake (and who is Pete anyway?). She can set her own hours.

Teddy time tracking

Well, I do. I just prefer them close to regular weekday business hours – 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The only exceptions are when I do in-person book signings or presentations (usually on a Saturday) or panels or talks related to book promo and the odd writing workshop that is on an evening (most are during the day on weekdays). But in the interest of time I like to stick to regular working hours and use off hours for personal stuff, for the  most part. That would include medical. At least the medical clinic I go to has evening and Saturday hours. It is close enough to home I can even go on my lunch break.

I really resent having to use my work time doing health, house (as in getting things fixed although my handyman usually does come evenings or early mornings and except for explaining what is wrong, he usually stays out of my way so I can work) and government-related stuff, especially when clients start to wonder when I will have their work completed.

Not sure what do do about this? I do have the phone calls under some kind of control with a vm message that tells callers when I am available to answer the phone for business and personal (and I use the “We can’t come to the phone right now.” message beginning). If it is important they can leave a message or call during those hours. One friend calls anyway during my work time but not business phone calls time. I don’t pick up the phone. When I check messages I hear her apologizing for calling at the wrong time. But she should know by now. She also usually leaves a “life story” message. I have two of those that I gave up listening to and they are left as “skipped messages.” I have no idea how to delete them without listening to them. Guess I will have to borrow a phrase of another friend who is smart in her vm mail message for incoming calls. “Please leave your name, phone number and a brief message.” She adds something about limited space for vm messages. I could do a variation of that. After the first part I could add “so all callers can leave a message.”

That’s the phone. Now about all the people and organizations, etc. stealing my work time because they don’t cater to the working crowd.

As one of my friends says they need to “get on the program.”

How do you deal with these non-work related interruptions? I don’t mean life and death. An ill family member, a death in the family. These are exceptions.

Now back to my client work. This blog post  hasn’t even taken as long as the public transit ride to the eye doctor.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Time management, Work Time

Only Child tries to tame time

One of Only Child's teddy bears sits on time to tame it

My late father’s obsession with time has passed down to me. Unlike Dad, I don’t obsess about taking my watch in to the jeweller’s to get it regulated. Like him, I keep looking at my watch and the many clocks in my house (four in my office if you include the two on the computers and the one on my wrist. I refused to put the battery in for the digital clock on the stereo). Lately, this obsession has me trying to tame time, or rather tame what I am doing in my business and personal life.

Right now I’m reading Peter Bregman’s 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. (http://peterbregman.com/). The first part is about finding your vision, including what you don’t like doing. Been there, done that. However, when he gets down to the nitty-gritty of time management on page 100 about Creating Your Annual Focus, he has me hooked. Without a focus you can’t plan your day. He suggests dividing your year’s focus into five (more or less) categories and use that as your daily planning guidelines. If it doesn’t fit in, don’t do it. I have four categories: Self, Family and Friends, House and Property and Career. I have to watch I don’t overload any one of them for any day.  Bregman has another category which I just love and started to include: an Ignore list. That list gives you so much power and makes you feel justified for example, refusing to waste time chatting with friends (phone, email, Twitter, in person) during business time. And because last month I obsessed and spent so much time dealing with administrative snafus caused by others in both business and personal, my ignore list has that on it – with one exception – the one administrative snafu I may decide to deal with that day.

So, from what I’ve read in Bregman’s book and elsewhere, from personal experience, here are some suggestions for taming your time.

  1. Have an annual focus and divide it into four, five, six categories.
  2. Use those categories to plan each day – your “to do” list (the night before – that 18 minutes works fine) for business and personal. Bregman says not to worry if one or two categories are much shorter. If one item on one list conflicts in time with an item on another list, Bregman, says to choose. He gives the example of two family birthday celebrations conflicting with the time when he was asked to speak about his work. He chose the family celebration.
  3. Have a daily ignore list and list what you will not do that day.
  4. Follow your “to do” list and your “ignore” list. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get everything done on your “to do” list.
  5. Set regular times to check and answer email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, phone messages and stick to it. Turn your Blackberry or iPhone off and put it in a desk drawer. Do a voice mail message letting everyone know when you are available (be positive, rather than negative here). Check your messages – two or three times a day maximum, not every five minutes.
  6. Use the four D’s (I’ve changed the categories slightly) – Delete, Dump, Delay, Don’t Do. Delete email but Dump things you do that you don’t want to do or that don’t fit in with your annual focus. Delay some tasks that do fit in but you can’t get to right now. And my favourite – Don’t Do. Don’t join that committee if you don’t have time for meetings, etc.
  7. Make the word “NO” a big part of your vocabulary and use it.
  8. Spend time with your family and friends – but don’t let them monitor your time. For example, don’t let a whiney friend take over your work time or family time or your personal time to complain about his or her latest problem.
  9. Don’t forget yourself. You need to be in the category list. Your health is important. Alone time where you can just read, meditate, etc. is important.
  10. And try not to feel guilty about doing the other nine suggestions. Focus on the sense of mastery, achievement, connecting more with your family and self, and just plain not letting other people and things take over your time. And take a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief.

How do you manage your time?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Delete, Life demands, Only child, Peter Bregman, Time management, Vision