One of the reasons we feel so tied to our calendars is that without them we might fly off into the playtime sunset never to work another minute in our lives. And then where would we be? (Presumably having a great time, but back to reality . . . ). So what if we were to schedule playtime as well as work time? It´s not a totally original idea. You´ve heard things like "schedule time with your spouse the way you might schedule time with your dentist"?¦" Personally, that doesn´t sound very appealing to me and I like my dentist, but you get the idea.
If you´re always working and leave little time for play or idleness, you lose perspective. Work becomes all-consuming, an addiction. As managers, we have a responsibility to help our employees create some semblance of balance (of course I don´t really believe we have balance or can ever truly get there-too many unreliable factors). If people are always working at the very highest velocity 100 percent of the time then someone, at some point, is going to crash.
One of things we can do to help our people manage their time more effectively is do some deep research. We need to know on an hour-by-hour basis what people are spending their time doing. Now, if you were to ask people about that, well, you might not get the most reliable assessment. Let´s say you don´t have a policy in place (yet) detailing when (if ever) employees can snoop around on the Internet for nothing in particular. You´re not likely to have an employee tell you that he or she was really frustrated by a particular wild goose chase on eBay. So what to do?
You could create a survey that employees could fill out anonymously. Or start with a simple exercise. For instance, ask your staff to list the top 20 things they do in their jobs and then prioritize the items in order of what they like to do the most. You might discover that you have the wrong people doing the wrong jobs or at least tasks and you could make some switches. In any case, you´ll be finding out how people are spending their time and you might be able to make some important adjustments. Sometimes, even after a huge organizational change, employees continue to do things the old way. Plus, they even continue doing tasks that have presumably either disappeared from the company to-do list or at the very least have been moved to another person or department.
If you´re not satisfied with the way people are managing time, then you need to dig deep to determine where time is flying. Just because time doesn´t stand still doesn´t mean you can´t define it.