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Diary: Time waits for no-one


diaryAfter being late for her own time management course, training manager Josie Roberts reflects on her difficulty keeping on top of a burgeoning workload.


All our courses start at 9.30. I like to get in much earlier and get the room set up and make sure I have everything ready. Then I'll go to my desk and check email etc. strolling back to the training room in plenty of time to greet the trainees as they arrive.

Last week I walked back in the room at 9.10 to find it full of expectant people. For no obvious reason this course started at 9.00. This isn't a great start to any course but the subject just happened to be 'Time Management'. Yes, I was late for my own Time Management course. I would love to say that I pretended this was a deliberate strategy to underline the importance of being places on time but sadly my response was more along the lines of "9.00. Are you sure?" I'll be living this one down for some time to come.

"It isn't easy to come back from a day of that level of concentration and pick up some other task requiring high energy levels, whatever my manager thinks."

Thinking of time management I've been reviewing the way I work. Accepting the reality that my life this year will consist of lots of small projects and not so much of the dramatic transformational stuff, I have been trying different approaches. My manager has had trouble with the concept that it takes a lot more time to write and deliver eight one-hour sessions than it does one eight-hour one.

Like many trainers I am happy with the creative part of the process so enjoy designing new material, researching new aspects to include and investigating new ideas for delivery. I'm comfortable with lots of things on the go. However I'm not very good at the crucial, but not so exciting, part of organising records, booking rooms etc. I had an excellent administrator but sadly she had to go last year when the team was reduced to its current size.

I realise I am at serious risk of being mid-flow on a course, turning a page and seeing a note saying, 'Hand out typed up exercise here' only to have missed out the typing up part and having nothing to hand out.

I've been sent on more than one course on managing my workload by a succession of exasperated managers. (I do appreciate the irony of now standing up and delivering material on the subject myself. It's not one I wrote and I focus on the fact that even if something doesn't work for me personally other people may well – and indeed do - find it useful.)

Another thing that can be hard to explain to a non-training manager is just how tiring delivering training can be. You have to consistently alert to every member of the group; is the quiet one bored or confused or processing it all happily? Is the lively one providing welcome interaction for the others or are they dominating to the cost of the others? The answers are always different and the flow of a course always varies. That's why I love the job and my genuine interest in my course participants is what I believe makes me good at it.

But it isn't easy to come back from a day of that level of concentration and pick up some other task requiring high energy levels, whatever my manager thinks. I try and save up less demanding jobs for those moments. That could even be my time for making sure I type up those exercises.

Josie Roberts is a pen name for a training manager in the private sector

Read more of Josie's columns:
A rookie mistake
Taking targets
What to do about non-attenders?



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