The temptation when you agree to do a column such as this, is to choose topics that place you and your agency in a good light. However, I know that over the years I have personally learned much more when people have had the courage to share their challenges. It allowed me to relate and to brainstorm ways to overcome their obstacles for myself.
So in th spirit of service to others I will look straight into my imaginary reality TV camera – fall on my sword and proclaim…”Hi – my name is Barbara Oliver and I suck at time management!”
I don’t know about you, but I have some days where I sit at my computer from the very early morning till the evening – and at the end of the day, I look around and wonder what the heck I’ve accomplished. I felt busy all day. I answered emails, did research, I listened to a webinar – and, oh yeah, I checked Facebook a few times (or 10). But at the end of the day, did I actually book anything? After all – that is what pays the bills! Normally I would be mortified to admit that in an open forum – except that I spoke with two different colleagues today that lamented the same thing! All of us shared the same frustration of just not being able to find our “oomph” to get anything accomplished.
Let’s face it, working in the non-traditional setting of a home office is a blessing and a curse. For me, I like the idea of the flexibility; but I have also found that I am mentally in work mode for more hours than if I had sold my soul to the corporate world. While that flexibility is supposed to afford me the ability to have lunch with a friend and take vacations at will, I find I rarely do either guilt free. So with no physical breaks, I mentally escape into the readily accessible social networks a little too often, for a little too long, during the day.
Another point–technology has definitely changed the way we interact with our world. Many years ago I used to get up in the morning, grab the paper (remember them?) and a cup of coffee, and sit in the sunny window to catch up with the community news. I might get a few household chores done along with a shower before I fired up the computer for the day. Now I grab my coffee and go to my computer to check in with the world. Once at the computer it’s way too easy to get sucked into the cyberspace of world events and “quickly checking email.” The next thing I know it’s 2pm and I realize that not only have I not eaten anything – I haven’t even showered or changed into real clothes yet!
Paradoxically, what I think I am finding is that the more time I spend in front of the computer, the more ineffective I become. I think it is simply burnout. There is no official start or end to my day and since I don’t really give myself any time “off” – I end up taking many more mental breaks that rob me of accomplishing any real goals for the day.
So instead of making grandiose proclamations about how I am going to turn over a new leaf, I think I am going to break this down into a series of doable steps that will hopefully build upon each other. My first step will be to do something just a little counterintuitive and actually limit my work hours. This will force me to work more effectively during the correct time of day. And secondly, instead of logging on at 6am, I will concentrate on my personal task list and be showered and dressed for the start of work at 8am. I do not want to open any emails prior to 8am as that just allows an opportunity for others to seize control of my day.
Two small, easy to accomplish steps for the next 30 days, which I hope will help me begin to take back control of my time. Anyone care to join me? Anyone have any tips?
Barbara Oliver is a 8 year veteran of the industry operating two independent travel companies All Together Now Travel and Romantic Journeys (both currently being redesigned) in the Los Angeles Area. In addition to her agencies she is theLos Angeles director of NACTA as well as a regular attendee and frequent panelist at many trade shows. She has her CTA from The Travel Institute and her ECC from CLIA.