End of Year Reflections

Well, it’s been an interesting year, that’s for sure! Like most years, 2009 didn’t turn out the way I expected. Last year at this time, I really had no idea what was headed my way. The biggest surprise, obviously, was being promoted to management. Not only did I not expect that to happen, but I also really had no idea what that would mean for my every day life.

I’ve mentioned before, management is different. It’s no longer about going to the office, doing the work, and going home. I spend so much time planning strategy, evaluating ideas, brainstorming, preparing training materials, reaching out to other areas of the firm, etc. that it can be very difficult to turn that off at the end of the work day. That’s not always a bad thing, sometimes I can accomplish much more of that stuff away from the distractions of the workplace, but it has caused some other things to suffer. I find myself with less time to write very meaningful posts here or on the child abuse blog, and I’ve not managed to blog at all over at Friends in Tech. I simply don’t have as much spare mental energy as I used to! 🙂

On top of that, it’s been more difficult to go home and do the social, personal things I’m used to doing. Oh, I may still spend the evening with Angela doing things we’ve always done, but I may not be 100% mentally there when we are. I may be mulling over an idea I had earlier, or fleshing out details of a plan while also watching The Office or eating dinner. That’s not good.

That being said, I suspect that much of the problem lies not so much with a lack of time as much as an undisciplined approach to time. Not that I’m unorganized, I probably have more lists than any three people you know, but when I sit down to write, or brainstorm an idea, it doesn’t always keep my focus, and winds up taking much longer than it should. My mind goes in tangents instead of opening up an Evernote page and outlining an idea right then and there while I’m thinking about it.

So that’s the plan for 2009. I’m going to be trying to figure out ways to be more disciplined with my time, and learn how to focus on getting all the way through a plan, or activity, then focus on the next one, instead of starting, writing a few ideas, then remembering that I need to email someone about another task, or check the hockey score real quick, etc. Any tips you’ve gleaned from your own lives are always appreciated!

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  1. Without getting too deep into a rabbit hole, the trick to time management is not about time, but about priorities. It sounds like you could use a refresh on the Time Management eppys from Manager Tools, http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/05/time-management.

    I actually ran the Drucker time analysis a couple of times just to see if my actual time spent aligned with my perception of my time spent. I think you should give it a try too. There were no big surprises for me but it was still well worth the effort. I'm guessing the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is true even outside of quantum physics. The act of observing how much time I spent on Task A, Task B, etc. made me more aware of how I managed my time. Therefore I adjusted my behaviors to affect the outcome of the Drucker analysis.

    It may seem like cheating, but if this makes you manage your time more effectively…well it works.

  2. Thanks Marv, I'll check that out and see if anything in there sparks some ideas. My fear is that I've become so accustomed to being interrupted, that I wind up interrupting myself even when doing something like writing a blog post or replying to personal emails in the evening by looking around at other things. I can't do too much about the work interruptions without altering the expectations of an entire law firm, so that's not going to be a quick fix, but may be one worth making! On the personal time front, it is going to e a matter of identifying Task A, Task B, and making sure they get done before moving on to other things. Maybe taking some of those same tools and applying them outside of the office? That might be a good start! 🙂

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