06 Mar 2013  What Do YOU Think?

Who Should Manage Our Work Time?

Summing Up Who will save us from our work habits? Jim Heskett's readers offer a range of viewpoints on the responsibility of employees to manage their time at work.

 

Summing Up

Who Will Save Us From Our Work Habits?


We have a problem in the workplace. Some of it is being forced upon us by forces in society. Some of it is of our own making. But we face increasing challenges in managing our work time according to responses to this month's column.

One question is, "Why now?" Gerald Nanninga put his finger on several possibilities. In his words, "Due to more layoffs and reduced hirings, there are fewer people to do the work." At the same time, "digital gadgets are soaking up time." Rather than ignore the input from at least some of the digital gadgets, Etienne Douaza commented that "there is a constant temptation (on our part) to overreach … to download another report we won't have the time to read … to add a new project to the 15 we already try to get moving every day and replace half of our office's staff with fancy ERP, CRM and voicemail systems… Technology can scale human efficiency, but only up to a point." Ganesh Ramakrishnan added, "The technologies to communicate, collaborate and access infinite information have evolved and spread much faster than our abilities to cope with their downsides."

Aim laid the blame at the foot of "an engineer who had difficulty … forecasting simple activities and (the) time … to accomplish them." Joseph Mello commented that "…part of the problem comes from the view of an organization as a machine as opposed to a social endeavor… I don't agree that overloading forces better time management…" KHA attributed part of the problem to the perception that "We love a 'hard worker,'" rewarding effort and time spent at work as much or more than results. Yet another concern, expressed by Yadeed Lobo, is that we are applying concepts of time management to the wrong kinds of tasks. As he put it, "… in places where creative solutions are needed time management or micro management is a difficult concept to grasp." Francis Wade said that "Our research … reveals that working professionals at all levels are burdened by the limits of the self-created time management systems they put together as young adults."

Suggested remedies were varied, with responsibilities for their implementation in the hands of both individuals and the organizations for which they work. As Edward Hare said, "In large, complex organizations time management is a shared responsibility." Frode Hvaring suggested that "… in order to enable employees to mange their output in terms of priorities, quality, resources available and best work flows, the company needs to train them …" Mukom Akong Tamon disagreed, saying that "… one of the cornerstones of motivation is that managers should not dictate people's methods …"

Tony Murphy issued an interesting challenge when he said, "Folk remedies based on a cookie-cutter, one size fits all diktat just perpetuates the problem. We need time intelligence, not time management." And who should be responsible for ensuring that this happens? According to Andrew, "Lean thinking says that we are all part of the system; therefore we can all act on the system. Therefore we all are responsible!" What do you think?

Original Article

Time management and personal productivity always hold a fascination for us. But the last few weeks seem to have brought an unusual flow of material on the subject across my desk. One question this raises is, "Why now?"

In short order, I am encouraged by Tony Schwartz to plan various forms of relaxation, ranging from the afternoon nap to adequate vacation, to be more productive. Then Carson Tate suggests ways of reducing time spent in meetings, such things as advance agendas, clear understanding of the results to be achieved, and even eliminating chairs, in order to increase personal productivity.

Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen, formerly chairman of MFS Investment Management, endorses these ideas as well in his book, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours. His basic advice: "Set and prioritize your goals, focus on the final product, and don't sweat the small stuff." In much more detail Pozen advises us on such things as creating and following standard routines so that part of our working life is on "automatic" as well as proactively managing the daily calendar in order to avoid such things as unimportant meetings (hard to do if a superior thinks they are important).

The topic has reached the pages of the McKinsey Quarterly, especially its January issue, where Peter Bregman observes that "you can't get everything done, even if you follow the right system." He suggests tying personal goals to strategic priorities, spending 95 percent of your time on five such priorities, eliminating "to do" list items that aren't related to them, and helping direct reports do the same.

This introduces the thought that organizations share the responsibility for how their members spend their time.

Frankii Bevins and Aaron De Smet pick up that theme in arguing that time management is too important to be left solely to individuals. They cite a survey of 1,500 executives in which only 52 percent of respondents indicated that the way they spent their time "matched their organizations' strategic priorities." Only 9 percent were "highly satisfied" with the way they allocated their time. In assigning tasks, managers often act as if human capacity is limitless. The result is "initiative overload" and an inappropriate allocation of time. Hence, organizations should take steps to "ensure that individuals routinely measure and manage their time" by providing high-quality administrative support for the effort.

How do we account for the renewed interest in these ideas? Is it a cyclical interest? Is it the result of new communication technologies that flood our lives with information that takes up time and requires prioritization? Is it a reflection of the fact that productivity improvement in non-manufacturing activities lags behind the manufacturing sector, at least in the US? Is it an indication that our new managers are ill prepared to "work smart"? (At the Harvard Business School, the philosophy has long been to eschew formal training in time management, instead overloading students purposely to force them to learn for themselves how to prioritize and become better time managers.)

Why the current concern? Who's responsible for the management of your time on the job? What do you think?

To Read More

Frankii Bevins and Aaron De Smet, Making Time Management the Organization's Priority , McKinsey Quarterly, January 2013.

Peter Bregman, A Personal Approach to Organizational Time Management , McKinsey Quarterly, January 2013.

Robert C. Pozen, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours , (New York: Harper Business, 2012).

Tony Schwartz, Relax! You'll Be More Productive, The New York Times, February 10, 2013, pp. SR1 and SR6.

Carson Tate, When You've Had One Meeting Too Many , The New York Times, February 17, 2013, p. BU9.

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Comments

    • Gerald Nanninga
    • Principal Consultant, Planninga From Nanninga

    Companies have been investing in improving efficiencies for generations. This is no different--just another investment in improving efficiency. Why the time management angle for efficiencies right now?

    1) Due to more layoffs and reduced hirings, there are fewer people to do the work. So work isn't getting done in a timely manner. 2) All the digital gadgets are soaking up time. 3) In a knowledge-based economy, individual worker time is the bigger area to make improvements.

     
     
     
    • Etienne Douaze

    I have followed with great personal interest this renewed focus on time management by reading Tony Schwartz's, Robert Pozen's and Peter Bregman's work. How do we account for the renewed interest in these ideas? My answer would be 'technical overreach'.

    On the one hand, the technical communication systems (mobile phone, email, text, video conference, social media, blogs, etc.) available today, enable us to communicate instantly with anyone, anywhere, anytime. On the other hand, the internet provides us with an immediate and unusually deep source of information on any subject we choose to study, be it in the form of written text, audio recordings, video, and increasingly: raw data.

    So there is a constant temptation to overreach, to subscribe to another news feed, to download another report we won't have the time to read, to add a 550th contact on LinkedIn we will probably never meet in person, to add a new project to the 15 we already try to get moving every day, and replace half of our office's staff with fancy ERP, CRM and voicemail systems.

    Some final thoughts: effective time management should be about pruning unproductive tasks, projects and activities as quickly as we add new ones to our schedule. Answering email and other forms of personal communication to a large audience should be outsourced to interns, secretaries and assistants. Technology can scale human efficiency, but only up to a point.

     
     
     
    • Tony Murphy
    • Director, Time Diagnostics

    It's a problem that just won't go away. The only "solution" business thinks it has is Taylorism, a 20th century approach that doesn't suit work in a 21st century knowledge economy. Time Management needs an upgrade to encompass current research in psychology, neuroscience, philosophy and physics. Folk remedies based on a cookie-cutter, one size fits all diktat just perpetuate the problem. We need Time Intelligence, not Time Management.

     
     
     
    • Frode Hvaring
    • Head of Human Resources, EBU-UER

    What about making the Company responsible for setting the scene and Employees responsible for acting; in order to enable Employees to manage their output in terms of priorities, quality, resources available and best work flows, the Company needs to train them on these same items (and I probably missed some): priorities setting / decision making, quality assessment and management, time and resources management, work flow mapping and optimization... If such a favorable frame is pro-actively taken care of, and expected output is clearly defined - both at Company level and at the individual Employee level - and if skills can be aligned with expectations, I guess that the probability of a healthy and sustainable use of Employee time will increase, with all the known positive effects on health, productivity, innovation, communication, collaboration, culture etc.

     
     
     
    • Masroor Sajid
    • Principal Consultant, 7Formations

    I agree with Tony Murphy to an extent; time intelligence can't work with emotional intelligence. Which is again another aspect to improve organization human capital. What i observed, electronic health record solutions are moving towards intelligence and can save practitioners' time. Of course, an internee can't write CEO's email; its a matter of importance who drives the organization with vision.

     
     
     
    • Aim
    • Drilling Engineer, N/A

    I am an engineer and below comments are valid for managers and subordinates alike:

    1- "Our new managers are ill prepared to "work smart"." 2- "In assigning tasks, managers often act as if human capacity is limitless."

    In one instance when measuring time of the distributed tasks it exceeds given 24 hours span (Yes, majority of our accidents are fatigue related and apart from couple of presentations there are no large scale implications like law suits due to remoteness of operations and awareness of local stakeholders). We are talking about a manager who is watching after 6-10 other engineers (who are loaded even worse b.t.w. and are in clear violations of labor codes) with significant safety implications and environmental impact should something go wrong (and about 40% of time they do![from internal accident reports as well as events not reported]). You might be wondering how one gets away with such stuff but these events are taking place in a remote part of the world by a company whose transparency index is dismal. (This company operates in the U.S. too)

    And as for the first point, people's incentives in the company are lined up such that time calculation not even deemed necessary as long as the job gets done "somehow" because the bonuses (large ones relative to other industries) are too sweet to pass up. I personally know an engineer who had difficulty of even forecasting simple activities and time it will take to accomplish them. There are numerous examples of such instances. Not only is this a clear failure and gross negligence by the company to train its work staff but as well as an indication that current universities are not bringing up capable, work-ready graduates to fully comprehend impacts/importance of their actions in an industry environment.

    You might think I am talking about a specific event/place but I rotated in a lot of locations around the world with this company and its conduct of business is same: Hide as much as possible and work away from public.

    By the way, in case you are wondering it's an Oil Fields Services company.

    Best, Aim

     
     
     
    • Sunil Banymandhub
    • Managing Director, Starjobs Learning Centre

    I believe that Time Management has always been linked to productivity. Not unreasonably so. However, there is another major advantage in effective management, which is that it contributes to lowering stess levels. That comes about in a number of ways. There is less panic before the day starts. There are slots allocated for unforeseen events, and the usual inevitable interruptions (although you can minimize these). More importantly, if you can, through effective time management, achieve the many objectives which are not linked directly to your professional responsibilities (looking after your family, getting adequate exercise, pursue community or social objectives, planning for your future and that of your kids), you are no longer tortured by the feeling of guilt which comes from neglecting these important areas in our life. I therefore believe that Time Management training should be presented more as a way of achieving all t he various objectives which make demands on our time, in the least stressful manner.

     
     
     
    • Joseph Mello

    The article brings up some interesting views. From my perspective, part of the problem comes from the view of an organization as a machine, as opposed to a social endeavor. A second factor is that we still have command control management theory, essentially left over from medieval times, based on power and authority, as opposed to enablement.

    At a team and personal level, there are tactics that can be used to boost effectiveness, as Professor Heskett, and Mr. Pozen both note. Clarity of purpose, routines, movement toward iterative work, reducing initiative overload, and better time management can help. The corporate culture has to be revamped to support this, though, or else, there will be a lot of internal organizational friction, which wears on employees.

    I don't agree that overloading forces better time management, unless there are supporting mechanisms, to help students explore options. Otherwise, you get successful behaviors, but in a very narrow realm of possible solutions. It excludes other possible solutions which may be beneficial in other working conditions.

     
     
     
    • KHA
    • Project Manager, Semiconductor mfg

    We still measure productivity mainly with facetime even when we mean not to do or say that we don't. When the amount of time spent is the objective, employees are motivated to use up lots of it be being unconsciously or intentionally inefficient. While I agree with Frode Hvaring that having the corporation set the scene and the employee figure out how to apply its principles to his own work, can the corporation break out of the facetime mentality and make results, not time, the objective? Can we value the man who does his job efficiently and goes home after four hours a day as much as we value the fellow we see working hard for twelve hours a day but who turns in the same result? Would we reward a worker who did more work in four hours than his coworker did in twelve? If we could bring ourselves to do that, then we could save hiring more employees (and paying their benefits) by offering the four-hour people more pay to do more effi cient work in however many or few hours it takes. It seems logical in theory but so unlikely in fact. We love a "hard worker."

     
     
     
    • Grant Koster
    • Regional Manager/Partner, Athletico Physical Therapy

    When push comes to shove on time management and productivity, the shared variable is accountability. Self-awareness and consciousness around 1) what your strengths are 2) what your role is and 3) how well do these two variables align, I believe, are some of the bigger questions of how time management and productivity can be measured. We all have result scorecards and I am sure we could find examples of executives that work very hard and do not produce quality results and vice versa, but what makes some more productive with their time than others?

    Gay Hendricks wrote a great book called, "The Big Leap". In the last chapter he states, "you'll never have enough money to buy all the stuff you don't really need, and you'll never have enough time to do all the things you really don't want to do." Classic. In this chapter he discusses the relationship between Einstein Time and Newtonian Time. Newtonian time says that there is only a finite amount of time (24 hours in a day) and it assumes that there is a scarcity of time. You'll either have too much, too little, 'no time at all', or sitting around with 'time on your hands' or 'running out of time'. On the other hand, Einstein Time is the radical transformation that states, "You're where time comes from". Once you understand that you are where time comes from, you are now the source, power, and creator to make as much of it as you want. It gives you a way to 'expand' the amount of time you have and become the source of it. Understandin g your gainers and drainers is a good first step. Knowing your strength using Gallup's Strength Finders is another and start working in areas of your strengths and I bet you will start understanding the secrets of Einstein Time vs. Newtonian. He also talks about the "Enlightened No". When was the last time you said "No" to someone? Your boss, your spouse, your direct report etc. Get clean with what you are really up to and soon you will be using your "enlightened no" a lot more which is a key strategy in living in Einstein Time.

    Other resources that are excellent at project management (notice I did not use 'Time Management') is David Allen's book, "Getting Things Done" and Kossek's, "CEO of Me" if anyone is interested.

    At Athletico, we actually teach David Allen's Getting Things Done principles to new Doctors of Physical Therapy (and all staff for that matter) who are experts and treating patients, but have not 'managed' their new career at all.

    I agree that businesses have co-accountability (with the employee) to hire great talent, coach and provide them with the tools/resources to succeed, and work with them to be aligned with company values, projects, and work that maximizes productivity while putting their strengths to use. Trust me, I have a list of things I could be doing right now, but I feel more energized writing this comment and I bet it will translate to more quality work after I move to my next task.

     
     
     
    • Etienne Douaze
    • Education manager

    Why a renewed interest in time management? Well, could it be that our relentless pursuit of productivity and a (false) belief that fewer people equipped with more technology can do the work just as well are set to establish time as the ultimate scarce resource?

     
     
     
    • Harold F Cole
    • Quality Manager, KNM Process Systems

    An interesting topic in any organization particularly when one considers the adage, "that time is money". Essentially, every working individual is governed by time and is accountable to effectively manage time to either produce the expected outcome,or meet specific milestones as determined by management or customer.One aspect that we as an organization have investigated/researched is that as the "older" workers have moved on/retired,the younger generation of workers fail to apply the same work ethic,in managing time.I guess this is not unique to us,as with the technological age,fewer young people are keen to work in certain environments,where one gets the hands dirty, preferring office type careers.I guess time management these days,especially in the competitive manufacturing industry at least may best be managed by sensitizing all employees,that effective time management will determine the future of business.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    A person who works in a company, organization and run his own business, should manage time properly to improve himself and his business. Managing work time is always good for yourself and makes you a successful person. Many on hold messages companies are there in which several employees work accordingly managing their time and make happy to all clients.

    http://www.m2onhold.com.au

     
     
     
    • Andrew

    An enormous amount of activity inside most organisations is wasteful - it's unnecessary and does not contribute to purposeful outcomes. Email is the number one time time waster in so many cases.

    Eliminate waste - as per many of the comments - and time is available for the things that truly matter. Who is responsible?

    Lean thinking says that we are all part of the system, therefore we can all act on the system, therefore we ALL are responsible!

     
     
     
    • Yadeed Lobo

    In assembly line/administrative activities/repeatable task oriented activities it is easier to plan and assign work (e.g. call centre work could be on or offsite) but in places where creative solutions are needed time management or micro management is a difficult concept to grasp.

    The interest is possibly cyclical perhaps correlated with the positive uptick and renewed confidence in the US economy.

    Important however to remember is that every type of work and worker requires time for contemplation (or thinking slow), micro pauses, time outs and occassionally time off's. Sometimes it pays to take yourself out of context to come up with innovative solutions. On the other side of the same coin sometimes just doing is better than thinking in excess.

    Recognition of this difference requires in Peter Drucker's words "managing oneself" first and foremost. Experience or learning by doing is the greatest teacher. Perhaps that is why the HBS philosophy of time management works so well.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    I used to work as a Medical Transcriptionist. One major reason quitting this job was my boss felt I could type around 1200-1300 daily as if I were a typing machine. Money does not make any sense if your employer does not understand that even you are a human being.

     
     
     
    • Mukom Akong Tamon
    • Training Manager, AFRINIC Ltd

    'Managing' has lots of negative connotations - one of them being 'control'. But of course 'Time Management' is a misnorma ... we can't actually manage time but we do understand that 'Time Management' is really about how people can be more effective in achieving results.

    Now, one of the cornerstones of motivation is that managers should NOT dictate people's methods and the absolutely worse thing that a company could do is to start to directly manage employee's time.

    This isn't to say the company shouldn't care about how people spend their time, the way they do care is to ensure that the right objectives and expectations are clearly communicated and people are held accountable.

    So if I were to put it in 'passes' I'd say

    Pass 1: Company (through a supervisor) gives an assignment with clear specifications (including due dates) to the employee.

    Pass 2: The employee will use whatever techniques best suit them to get the job done. Company involvement at this stage is going to be seen as 'micromanaging'. Employees may well give regular progress reports which will indicate to management whether things are going well or not.

    Pass 3: On due date, the supervisor gets to hold the employee accountable for results and implicitly pass a judgement on the employee's ability to effectively manage their own time.

    The more effective employees are, the more they should be let alone with respect to their time.

     
     
     
    • Ganesh Ramakrishnan
    • Oracle Financial Services Software Ltd.

    Many resources (examples: information and money) available for improving our productive output that used to have limited availability are now abundant and accessible. Time is not--it is the only thing perceived as a fixed constant, and as pointed out by earlier comments, there are new dangers that threaten our controlled use of it.

    Relevant information was deliberately withheld by those higher in the hierarchy or restricted to experts who had invested many years immersed in the study of a subject. Now? Even doctors with years of education and practical experience are wary of discussing with their smart googling patient.

    Multiple sources of funds, easier to tap than the traditional bank loan, have emerged and like many other aspects of modern life, transcend geographical boundaries. From venture capital to angel investors to private equity to crowdfunding, no brilliant idea in any corner of the world is likely to be thwarted by mere lack of financing.

    The technologies to communicate, collaborate and access infinite information have evolved and spread much faster than our abilities to cope with their downsides, to inculcate new habits to exploit them without suffering from the new diseases they spawn such as information anxiety, shallow (un)thinking and BB/FB addiction. This sense of limited time permeates even the free time we manage to have--I recently caught myself playing a movie at 1.5x speed so as to move on to the next relaxing activity faster!

    So, we should be shocked and worried if new time management techniques and books are not being written! :-)

    Beyond the basics, time management is more about priorities and therefore life management. Once somebody is reasonably productive and is ambitious to get more done, it boils down to mental training involving equal parts of discipline and letting go. Which is why bestselling books like Getting Things Done by David Allen start with tips to get organized and prioritize but also cover systems that scale at different levels of thinking about life.

    As to whether organizations should help in or mandate methods for better time management by employees, it does appear that there is a reversal of the trend toward more freedom. Centralized systems that begin with goal setting and tie the time log capture to daily, weekly and monthly goals are beginning to be implemented by some companies. I am not sure if this will continue to grow and become the norm or is just a temporary corrective backlash that will fade away as we design new organizational structures and cultures. I hope to see the latter.

     
     
     
    • Edward Hare
    • Retired Director...Strategy and Planning, Fortune 250 Manufacturer

    Why the current concern? Easy....most of us are drowning as so much competes for our attention, too many things are deemed important or even urgent, and technology makes possible all manner of unproductive diversions. Many of which can be unrelated to our real "work" activities. Setting priorities and pursuing them in a very disciplined way isn't a strong suit for very many people.
    Everyone has different needs for downtime and succumbs to extraneous uses of time. The best leaders get to know their people and who makes the best decisions about time and activity management. Sadly, few do.....at all levels of an organization. And don't forget....people instinctly wonder "what's in it for me?" In many organizations the answer to that isn't clear, or is downright unmotivating. Unlike the Executive suite, where compensation systems make what's in it for me very, very clear. The Darwinian philosophy of survival of the fittest may work for individual Harvard Business School students but I rather doubt it will well serve most business's and organizations in the real work-a-day world. In large, complex organizations time management is a shared responsibility.

     
     
     
    • Tom Dolembo
    • Director, NewNorth nstitute

    This busywork obcession is an indicator that we're in the waning stage of the caretaker phase of this economy. CEO's are currently paid to safely placehold and sever gaggles of employees, offer up positive euphemisms to the remaining victims, and bleed the last ounce of profit out of a strangled employee base for more outstanding profit reports. It's generally a sign that no vision is driving the business, no technology is disrupting the market, no immediate goal other than return to insiders is working the floor.

    The next phase, which often involves replacing these addled folks who "just have too much on their plate" will involve elbows out growth and investment execs, more outsourced staff, and acquisitions. It is slow to arrive. Sarajevo/Franz Ferdinand type disaster looming in European banks, gross over compensation for housekeeper CEOs, and company cash hordes locked into swap and derivative stashes make real operating problematic. We may have a very difficult summer. We're low on people who know how to run a business rather than game a balance sheet.

    But, beware when the "vision" folks send in their literature. The time management folks are harmless enough, if begging the question of why we hired these managers in the first place at these salary rates if they can't figure it out straightaway what they are doing with their days.

     
     
     
    • Kapil Kumar Sopory
    • Company Secretary, SMEC(India) Private Limited

    It is ages since the concept of time management developed. The literature on the subject following researches by intellectuals is very large. In essence, all emphasise the serious importance of managing our time. With a long working experience of about five decades at my back having handled top management positions, I have come to a conclusion that instead of managing time, something which is very finite and evaporates fast, we would benefit more if we manage our activities, prioritizing actions by giving more emphasis to the important and not much to what is just routinely unimportant. This will indeed ensure success.

     
     
     
    • kevina wepukhulu
    • HR Manager, kplc

    Time management is individual and can also be embraced by the whole company/organisation . companies must maximise utilisation of less human resources to make profits for its shareholders . competition has made it difficult for companies to waste time thus the need for lean and efficient workers . Time management is therefore key to performance and we must continue to manage time.

     
     
     
    • Francis Wade
    • 2Time Labs, Bill's Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure

    I don't think that this can happen soon enough and it's not only because I just published a new book on the subject.

    Our research at 2Time Labs reveals that working professionals at all levels are burdened by the limits of the self-created time management systems they put together as young adults. HBS and other schools haven't helped.

    What a young professional needs is not a particular system, but the ability to upgrade whenever the need arises. In the workplaces of old, this simply wasn't a requirement when a single system lasted an entire career. However, our generation alone has seen the combined and inescapable forces of information/ email overload, technology disruptions and recessionary pressure to do the work of 2-3 people.

    The need to implement several upgrades during the course of your career is not just about buying the latest i-gadget. It's about carefully crafting improved and custom habits, practices and rituals supported by new technology choices. This doesn't start by buying a book or attending a program. It starts with skillful self-diagnosis - something that we can only do for ourselves. The results, plus our new goals, tell us what needs to change.

    We are woefully lacking in the research, teaching and learning needed to make this essential skill a norm. Maybe when we do, we might not chase after every new solution promising greater productivity, and instead work steadily to implement individual upgrades that allow us to make steady progress in meeting increasingly challenging career goals.

    True individual strategic alignment, a sign of high corporate productivity, shouldn't be left to chance or confused by the current chatter about working at home rights or BYOD policies. Companies should come to see that, for example, handing out smartphones may make managers more responsive, but also less productive at the very same time. The answers aren't simple.

    Giving employees the skills to upgrade is critical if companies continue to ask employees for more results, and better alignment with corporate goals.

     
     
     
    • Peter McCann
    • Consultant, McCann Corporate Consulting Associates

    The depth of comments shows the severity of the recurring issue. Years ago Peter Drucker covered the issue in The Effective Executive, which I highly recommend. Since the book was published the distractions of electronic media, increased span of control issues, and wider stakeholders have increased.

    Getting the right things done requires that the organization and each staff member knows what is the 'right thing', and that there be a very strong focus on the 'right thing'. Next, non-essentials should be dropped (not postponed, re-scheduled or delegated).

    It's tough to be effective without excellent time management skills and without knowing what is really important to your company or boss or Board of Directors. Once you know, time management is just dropping the non-essentials.

    The core requirements are awareness, discipline and courage to implement.

     
     
     
    • Ravindra Edirisooriya
    • Analyst and Consultant 03/27/13, Edirisooriya Business and Management Services

    Professor Heskett asked "Who Should Manage Our Work Time?" Our work falls in the plane of repetitive to creative continuum and easy to difficult continuum. Every task is (how) repetitive or (how) creative and every task is (how) easy or (how) difficult. If a task is repetitive and easy then it is Repetitive Work. If a task is creative and difficult then it is Creative Work. In order to extract the maximum productivity, management (supervisor) may control your work time if you are engaged in Repetitive Work. However, the supervisor may let you control work time (responsibly) if you are engaged in Creative Work, for example, designing a cutting edge system. Creative Work may be efficiently achieved when you control the work time because it gives the freedom to think, conceive the seed and evolve it to its optimal configuration. Creators naturally (not just work at the desk but) think (consciously or unconsciously) 24\7 on a task and may use less time than allotted by a supervisor. Hence, a supervisor may say "you are expected (expectation is an average) to deliver a project by a given date." As a measure of productivity, the supervisor could keep score on the delivery time (time above or below expectation) and the quality of the project (suitability and retouches). Who should manage our work time if it is neither Repetitive nor Creative Work?

    In a slow growth economy, management push to do more with less (maximize asset usage and profit) is the driver behind the heightened interest in time management.

     
     
     
    • Kamal Hossain
    • Faculty of Business, London School of Commerce

    Professor Heskett

    Excellent question. For me, it is I and Me. But not the management of time.

    Some one said "there is nothing called Time management". It is work management. Time cannot be managed. It has its own pace. As the saying goes, time and tide waits for none.

    So the negotiation is with the work. How much work is to be taken from the boss and how much can be managed within the time is what can be the concern, the negotiation, the bargaining.

    My suggestion Prof Heskett, is that the question can be "How can we manage our work time?"

    Best regards Kamal Hossain Faculty of Business London School of Commerce hosnkml@gmail.com