Management of Time

June 8, 2020

The eternal challenges and the learning with social distancing and virtual management

The isolation brought learnings for the companies that had never worked in home office and to those that has already had this practice established, because, after all, there has never been everyone at the same time.

It lacked infrastructure, but from overnight, it has being learned to operate in several platforms and to virtually manage. All of this in a climate of apprehension for health, business maintenance, lack of time perspective and care with the family.

But crisis unites.  It demands that we do everything to work it out and, in a way, it has happened.

The majority of companies continued functioning. The virtual established new routines, created communication and alignment protocols, conciliating the ones presented at the company with those who stayed at home. Moments with all the team have been provided, because, after all, the emotional connection at this moment is increasingly necessary to share information and to divide the uncertainties.

It has not being easy, but more possible than we have imagined.

And what we have learned with the virtual management came to stay: FOCUS on what is necessary to be done, in the result, not matter where, how and at what time the work has being carried through.

The CONFIDENCE has to be developed. The traditional control lost its seat.

But time management continues to be an enormous challenge, even more with the activities that we have to do for being at home. Time simply seems to be insufficient to do everything what is needed to be done. Are we doing more things today than we used to do five years ago? Or are we using the time in inappropriate way?

Symptoms are the same: we are run over by the unexpected and the urgencies. The agenda seems to have proper life, it changes without neither consulting nor asking for permission. There are no pauses for strategic reflection to plan what is important for the future. Pressure comes from all sides: boss, peers, teams, ourselves, and in the social distancing,  family more than ever. And we suffer physically with pains in the body and in the emotional, with distresses, a feeling of chronic debt and frustration.

All of this at the same time and mixed with the pandemia , with a clear sensation that we are overworking, with extra activities, less infrastructure, space, silence, and with potentialized distrusts: unsafeness with health, economy, work, parents, world. There will not be a return to work "rested'. In fact, we would all need long and very far vacations.

Once, in a trip to Bhutan, I heard one monk speaking about the paradoxes of the modern life:

“… the world has never had such available knowledge and, therefore, so little common-sense.

.. we have never formed such amount of specialists before and the problems seem even more difficult to be solved.

.. there is a lot of information, that  we do not  need to look for it, because it  invades our life, and despite of this, we have so many problems in having a good communication.

.. we have never had so many opportunities within everyone’s reach, and even though, we do not have the time we need."

I was thinking how a monk, in that country where happiness is said to live, summarized so well some of the very mundane anxieties.

Coming back to the time problem: the obvious reply that technology brought volume - a lot and exaggerated - and speed echoes in the air. And promise of productivity and simplicity? Something in this equation does not close.

Yet in 1989, Steven Covey, already wrote about efficient people and time management. And in a time when there is neither whatsapp nor Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. Therefore, even thirty years ago, time was not well administered, lost between urgent and important. He had, then, already prophesized: “The secret is not to prioritize the agenda, but to book at the agenda the priorities.”

The lesson seems easy, but difficult to be applied:

- Capacity to establish PRIORITIES.

- FOCUS on organizing oneself on these priorities.

- DISCIPLINE to execute them.

We still make a mistake in the basic one:

Our meetings are unexpected, unproductive, not in the settled time. Badly planned, they are convoked to decide, what it is not accomplished after hours of disorganized quarrels, or to decide what all remember having already argued  more than once. In fact, many meetings are absolutely unnecessary. Today, in the virtual management, we still have some gains: It starts on time as anyone is blocked in the transit. Generally, it also finishes on time, as the connection is interrupted. And the plague of the PowerPoint, even if it is shared in the screen, finally seems to have lost its important role.

Our emails are excessive, diffuse and many times also unnecessary. We write down what we combine verbally, as if we need evidence for the agreements. Generally, there are a great number of people copied as if we need to be protected from something or someone. We share the messages with people that do not have any direct action on the fact, maybe in a foolish way to 'show productivity'.

Our journey is full of distractions: the sonorous notifications of whatsapp, emails, telephones, the sneaky look in the social Medias, murmuring of the open spaces.

We suffer from chronic syndromes: always super busy, we need to be irreplaceable; we need to know everything and we need to be everywhere. Perhaps psychology can explain our atavic necessity of feeling indispensable. Unsafety? Vanity?

To complete the distress, we lull unreal expectations concerning our availability, responsibility and presence. An infinite anxiety to please everyone.

To conclude, we invest time searching for consensus and validation for everything, things without consequences. As a child who searches for adults approval.

Thinking about time, it is interesting to observe people with professional activities with great responsibility and demand, and still then, manage to be triathletes, taking care of some small children, giving lessons, dedicating themselves with tenacity to social work.

Around them there is always the question: “How does this person arrange time?”

Those who seem to count on a magical clock, have characteristics in common:

- Clearness of their objectives. Their choices for the time focus on priorities

- They learn that the less time they have, the more concentrated is the attention. Meetings and emails are examples of objectivity.

- Relaxations are planned and controlled. After all, pauses are necessary. The multi-tasking, already proven by neuroscience, is energy drain. Lot of movements produces exhaustion and little result.

- They deal with their syndromes. They delegate, `detach' from be the center of everything.

- They know how to say no without avoid being collaborative. They renegotiate deliveries, tenors, target, create compensations.

- They take calculated risks. If they make a mistake, they inform, ask for forgiveness and move on.

A form to think about the time in a different way would be reducing two or three hours of the day: What would we leave behind to assure that the priority should be done? What should we do different? What would we start doing today that we have not done yet?

Today, experiencing the home office, we have to learn that home office is not a day off; it is not 24/7. It is useless to change the work schedule without changing the mindset.

The schedules need to be agreed, interruptions negotiated and respected.

We have many gains in adopting the home office if we learn to work in this way and to deeply change the way of managing.

More time next to the family, less time in the transit, possibility of more concentration in an activity per time. And focus.

Managing time, in house or at the office, has its basic rules:

- Clearness in what is needed to be done.

- Focus.

- Organization.

- Discipline.

Raïssa Lumack, é Socia Senior da BMI, onde atua em projetos de transformação cultural. É formada em História pela Pontifica Católica do Rio de Janeiro, com MBA em Dirección de Empresas, pelo Instituto de Empresas de Madrid, Espanha. Cursou o STC da Fundação Dom Cabral em parceria com Kellogg Management School – USA, entre outros. Anteriormente esteve à frente da função de Recursos Humanos em diversas empresas, entre elas, The Coca-Cola Company, Embratel, Xerox do Brasil, além de ter liderado a prática de consultoria de Recursos Humanos da KPMG, no Rio de Janeiro.