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Online workshop: Time Management


This is the transcript of the online workshop held on Tuesday 22 August 2000 on the topic of Time Management.

Alistair Gordon Good afternoon - testing system - Time Management workshop.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Alistair - glad you got in okay!

Stephanie Phillips Hopefully we'll get a few takers turning up in the next 5 minutes or so.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Alex - we're just waiting for few more people to turn up before Alistair gets going.

Alistair Gordon Good afternoon Alex glad you could join us.

Alex Wilmington Ok no problem.

Alex Wilmington Thanks, You'll have to bear with me this is the first workshop I've logged on for!

Alistair Gordon Good afternoon David glad you could join - we are almost ready to start - waiting to see who else joins in the next minute or so.

Alistair Gordon No problem Alex - it's quite straightforward.

Alex Wilmington What a relief!

Alistair Gordon Welcome everyone - I am sure people will join as we go along. My name is Alistair and I have been leading TM classes for several years. A colleague said to me that TM is easy - all you have to do is work half a day... you can choose either the first half o the second!!First of all, could I ask what are people's main issues with TM and then I will outline some of the discussion points that could be of use.

Alistair Gordon Welcome Jon, glad you could join.

Stephanie Phillips I'm very good at making lists but never seem to get around to doing the things at the bottom!

Alistair Gordon Thank you Stephanie this is a common problem - what do you think stops you getting to the bottom?

Alex Wilmington I make lists but only get half way through before I get side tracked or the list is out of date.

Alistair Gordon Welcome Dawn - glad you could join.

Stephanie Phillips Usually I put the dull or lengthy things at the bottom!

Jon Seaton Hello all. Yes I too know some of the time management theory, but disciplining oneself is the greater part of the problem!

Stephanie Phillips It's easier to do the easy quick things first!

Alistair Gordon Thank you - what are other peoples issues surrounding time?

Dawn Shepherd Thanks Alistair. My first teleclass, so I'll mainly listen ...

Alistair Gordon No problem Dawn - just pop in whenever you want.

Jon Seaton Stephanie, I put the dull and lengthy things at the top....but then ignore them!!

Alistair Gordon No problem Dawn - just pop in whenever you want.

Alex Wilmington I prioritise my tasks so that I KNOW I have to do the urgent things first but then the not so urgent things get superceded by new urgent things and the not so urgent doesn't get done.

Stephanie Phillips I have got an incredibly short attention span, so I like to do more than one thing at once, but I do wonder whether this is the best use of my time......

Dawn Shepherd My list is usually in "comfort zone" sequence.

Alistair Gordon The most common issue regarding not getting to through lists are 'time - booby traps' - these are specific to everyone - can you identify what these might be?

Alex Wilmington Things taking longer than anticipated or being forgotten about because something more important comes along.

Stephanie Phillips I'd say that you are probably supposed to break down the horrible and tedious tasks to make them easier, but can't say I've ever really done that.

Alistair Gordon Welcome Murat.

Stephanie Phillips (Hi murat - click on the transcript below to see what's happened already).

Alistair Gordon Welcome Peter.

Dawn Shepherd For me, coasting when time seems plenty, then panicking when it's run away from me.

Alex Wilmington Long tedious tasks are normally broken down into short tedious tasks - not much fun.

Alistair Gordon Stephanie - what stops you doing that?

Stephanie Phillips oh, I probably don't get around to doing it!!

Stephanie Phillips also, it's difficult to make yourself do the horrible things!

Stephanie Phillips Alistair - I think one of the main problems is that most people know that there are ways to manage your time better, but when it comes to putting them into practice, that's another matter..

Alex Wilmington Dawn, I know what you mean about coasting and then panicking, it's hard to maintain a constant pace and keep on top of things.

Alex Wilmington Absolutely!!!

Alistair Gordon To help establish what the implications are of not using time properly could I ask the group to consider and finish this sentence " I spend a lot of my time....." Mine would finish "looking for things I have lost"

Dawn Shepherd Mine - moving paper ineffectively.

Stephanie Phillips - Moving between one task and another, I'd say.

Alex Wilmington All of the above and spending time trying to organise my time well and never getting round to doing the work!

Jon Seaton Planning rather than doing.

Alistair Gordon Welcome Vicky.

Stephanie Phillips (Hi Vicky - check the transcript below to see what's happened so far).

Stephanie Phillips (Hi Marie - click below to see what's happening).

Vicky Reevell Thanks!

Alex Wilmington Alistair, my memory is appalling and so a lot of the time I can remain focused on the job in hand but I can't remember what else I have to do despite having lists.

Alistair Gordon Thank you - now substitute the word 'time' for the word 'life'! Is this a valuable use of your life? - we can then discuss how we can manage this better.

Alistair Gordon Hi Marie.

Marie Chambers Hi Alistair.

Alex Wilmington Okay so maybe the reason I spend all my time trying to organise my time is because I am always trying to organise my life?

Dawn ShepherdThat hits a nerve ...

Dawn Shepherd (i.e. painfully true)

Vicky Reevell Yep! I know what you mean.

Stephanie Phillips (Sylvia - check the transcript to see what's happened so far)

Alistair Gordon There is a great difference between effort and achievement - what suggestions do you have for making the best use of your' life'

Alistair Gordon Welcome Sylvia.

Alistair Gordon It certainly does Dawn - I spend a lot of my life looking for things or trying to solve others problems.

Stephanie Phillips So this is where the monkeys come in ?!

Alex Wilmington What is a monkey?

Alistair Gordon Welcome Zoe.

Stephanie Phillips (Have read a bit about them before!)

Alex Wilmington I mean apart from a mammal!

Zoe Ward Hello there - I've come in a bit late, so need to catch up with what you're talking about.

Stephanie Phillips Alistair - d'you want to explain? (Zoe - check the transcript below to see what's happened already).

Alistair Gordon Good point and perfect link! - A 'monkey' is the next move!! It comes from Monkey Management by Blanchard and it has four rules - shall we discuss.

Marie Chambers So what do these Monkeys do?

Vicky Reevell Please, tell me more about the monkeys.

Stephanie Phillips (Toni - hi, check the link below to see what's happened)

Alistair Gordon Monkeys are problems, issues and opportunities. They sit on your back - if you let them and weigh you down. Has anybody got any examples of this right now?

Toni Court Hi everyone.

Alistair Gordon Hi Toni.

Alistair Gordon Hi Mel.

Stephanie Phillips Monkeys can be things you should be passing on to someone else, can't they?

Alex Wilmington Yes, We are supposed to fill out time sheets regularly, detailing the ours we spend on various projects, they always need to be done and always get left till last.

Mel Hello! - don't know what on earth I'm doing yet - please bear with me!

Peter Mayes Alistair, isn't the main concept with the "monkey" is that it belongs to someone else, hence "give the monkey back".

Alistair Gordon There are four rules of monkey management (mm) - these are very useful for team leaders, managers and at home.

Sylvia Brewer Hi Alistair like Dawn this is my first time at one of these workshops but it is one that attracted me as I have poor TM skills.

Alistair Gordon Yes Peter, as long as it is truly not yours.

Stephanie Phillips (Mel - read the transcript below to see what's already happened) - apologies to those who arrived at 1pm prompt having to read this message again!

Stephanie Phillips Can you let us know the monkey management rules, Alastair?

Alistair Gordon Rule 1 says Make sure a Monkey has a description. This refers to any piece of work - i.e. what is going to happen next. So the work has not been allocated yet - it is simply making it clear what needs to be done - does that make sense?

Alex Wilmington Yep!

Alistair Gordon Sue hello!

Zoe Ward I'd like to find out more about the monkey management rules and what opportunities they give for time management

Dawn Shepherd I think so.

Stephanie Phillips (guys -it really does help if people get here at 1pm prompt - suppose this is to do with time management though!. Sue - check the transcript below to see what's happening).

Vicky Reevell Yes it makes sense to me.

Dawn Shepherd I think you got it in one there Stephanie !!

Zoe Ward So you could call your first monkey - pending work or filing work and so on....?

Alistair Gordon Rule 2 says "All Monkeys Should Have Owners" - this is where you agree with someone who doses the work. Guess what? How many of us say ""Leave it with me" - You now have the Monkey .

Zoe Ward So rule 2 would be about deciding who owns it and delegating it if necessary....?

Vicky Reevell Sounds familiar.

Dawn Shepherd Saying "no" to the person giving the work often isn't easy though.

Alistair Gordon Zoe - yes - it is any piece of work - imagine that this is sitting on your back - do you have to do it all or can you transfer this monkey elsewhere?

Alex Wilmington Stephanie you can send private messages by clicking on the person you wish to talk to and typing your message.

Alistair Gordon I quite agree Dawn - if you are known as or seen as a 'rescuer' then people often, subconsciously make you feel guilty about saying no - is this a common feeling?

Zoe Ward This is the frustrating part - sometimes it's finding the time to transfer the 'monkey' over!

Stephanie Phillips Yes, indeed you can - should have thought about that really, seeing as I usually host these things!

Vicky Reevell Often it easier to deal with the monkey yourself rather that spend time explaining to others.

Alistair Gordon The important aspect about agreeing who owns the Monkey is ensuring that the person understands why it is their job - and what benefits this gives you.

Dawn Shepherd benefits?

Toni Court What if you have no-one to delegate to?

Alistair Gordon Agreed - then it becomes a vicious circle - no time to train therefore no time to delegate - less time for you.

Alex Wilmington Yes but there is a world of difference between allocating responsibility and then managing your time effectively to fulfill your responsibilities!

sue mitchell Hi Alistair, sorry to be a bit late in joining you - hope you don't mind me doing a bit of non-participant observation of this workshop to see how online training could benefit me!

Alistair Gordon What would you see as benefits Dawn of being able to delegate?

Dawn Shepherd More time to do the "important" jobs, although like Toni, having someone to delegate TO would help.

Alex Wilmington means you don't have to take responsibility for everything, just the things that you should take responsibility for.

Alistair Gordon Tom - if you have nobody to delegate to then the Ms will be stuck with you. How can you minimise the effect?

Zoe Ward I think you eventually would free up some time, as long as you felt confident of the skills of the person you'd delegated to. You'd also benefit from gaining some management and coaching skills.

Alistair Gordon Shall I do Rule 3?

Dawn Shepherd Actually, by "important", I suspect I mean jobs I'd enjoy more, or was more comfortable with.

Alistair Gordon That is a good example of a time booby trap Dawn. Thank you.

Zoe Ward I can totally agree with what Dawn said about the jobs you'd enjoy more....!

Alex Wilmington So, what exactly are time booby traps?

Sylvia Brewer Sylvia brewer what if no one will accept the task you are trying to delegate.

Alistair Gordon Rule 3 says always "Insure the Monkey". This is after agreeing what needs to be done and who does it - how much authority needs to be given. You may say "Think about it before and discuss with me before actioning" or "Do it and let me know that you have done it" - It depends on the experience of the person who is allocated the task.

Alex Wilmington What happens if you have no one to delegate tasks to?

Jon Seaton One option Sylvia is to accept that if no-one else sees the job as important enough to do it themselves, then accept that it may not be important!

Alistair Gordon Alex time booby traps are those periods of the day when you get distracted - coffee breaks, personal telephone calls, personal disorganisation, etc

Alex Wilmington Thanks!

Mel Sorry Stephanie - just happened in on this - another chat-virgin - I'm also interested in how to minimise the effect of monkeys you carry alone.

Sylvia Brewer I work out side of the normal operational management structure as a trainer so have no authority to delegate.

Alistair Gordon If no-one is there to delegate to then MM is not an option as such - you obviously need other people to help you out - that is where careful prioritisation of your day needs to be planned.

Dawn Shepherd How about delegating back up line?

Alistair Gordon Sylvia - who else could help you?

Marie Chambers Is there any information that can be found on the Web about TM and Monkeys.

Alex Wilmington I regularly prioritise but there always seems to be something desperately urgent that displaces important tasks.

Sylvia Brewer</bI am trying to get line managers to take on roles as wpa to their staff to no avail.

Alistair Gordon Your own Monkeys need to be 'worked on and prioritised between urgent and important. Urgent comes first (although Covey states that ultimately you must work on the important items - remember we are talking about 'life' not 'time'.

Peter Mayes Marie; Harvard Business Review Dec 1999 "Who's got the monkey?" May be able to download from their site.

Marie Chambers Thanks Peter.

Jon Seaton Sylvia, it sounds like the line managers don't see the benefits to themselves (what's wpa?).

Sylvia Brewer Sylvia Brewer Who is Covey?

Alistair Gordon Planning needs to take account of 'unplanned' activities - I know this sounds paradoxical - but it is essential if you want that extra hour or day to yourself to plan, have fun or just rest!

Marie Chambers What's Rule number four?

Peter Mayes Sylvie; Stephen Covey "7 Habits of highly effective people" fame and "First things First".

Alex Wilmington my unplanned jobs always seem to be little things that crop up as I go along, I always think that they are 5 min jobs but I suppose in reality they take 1/2 an hour.

Alistair Gordon Rule 4 says Monkeys should have check-ups - i.e. Ensure that any piece of work is described, is owned, is being actioned and most of all being completed. If you do have a team - then they are your greatest asset and will enjoy taking on the Ms if you let them.

Stephanie Phillips Alistair - unfortunately we're running out of time for the session (unless of course you're happy to continue further). Do you want to summarise what's been discussed today?

Alistair Gordon Before we finish what is our best techniques to help those who do not have teams or people to delegate to?

Zoe Ward I think it's probably - AAGGGHH!!

Stephanie Phillips I suppose, being brutal with what you do and don't devote your time to - saying no to some things.

Dawn Shepherd I've been using Zoe's method, but Stephanie's sounds more practical.

Jon Seaton Decide if the job really needs doing, decide if more can be done to sell people on the benefits rather than use a delegated responsibility route.

Mel gathering the drive to attack the things that are both urgent and important but traumatic or difficult.

Peter Mayes Put the boulders in the bucket first (Covey "First things First").

Stephanie Phillips how about not adding things to lists unless you intend to do them??!

Mel Oh yes this is on the Microsoft manager thing in windows isn't it?

Alex Wilmington Saying no to people is really hard, I hate think that they would say no to me!

Alistair Gordon Thank you everyone. There is a big difference between Effort and Effective. I was told "any fool can be busy" - didn't like that one! TM is about Self management - and definitely about our own attitudes. We choose what we do - often because we enjoy it rather than need to do it. Let other people help out (if you have them) - then you can become a helicopter manager rather than a 'coal-face' manager.

Stephanie Phillips Sounds a good enough place to finish! Alastair, many thanks for an entertaining and informative workshop!

Dawn Shepherd Thanks Alistair.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks to all for contributing - if there's enough demand, we'll run another session on this topic.

Sylvia Brewer Thanks.

Alex Wilmington Thank you every one, I'm certainly coming back again!

Vicky Reevell Very Interesting - thank you.

Jon Seaton Thanks to all. Bye!

Marie Chambers Thanks very much.

Marie Chambers Bye.

Mel Thanks.

Dawn Shepherd Bye.

Alistair Gordon Defuse those booby-traps - keep a time log of what you have done each day. Just do it for a week. You will be amazed at the amount of unproductive time - use that time to enjoy yourself and be more effective. Thank you.

Peter Mayes TTFN.

sue mitchell Sue Mitchell - thanks for the observation.

Alex Wilmington Ok, bye.

Stephanie Phillips Bye all and thanks.

Zoe Ward Many thanks - it's interesting to hear other people's points of view too.

Alistair Gordon Thanks Zoe - watch those monkeys.

Les Mower use TMI task and projects template.

Alistair Gordon Thanks Les - these are most useful.

Alistair Gordon Signing off - bye everyone.

Les Mower Bye and thank you.


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