By Goke Ilesanmi
Time, they say, is money. We are working longer hours, sleeping less, yet achieving decreased productivity in the process. This situation has made the issue of how people use or misuse time worthy of attention. People are categorised in many ways. Some like to distinguish between extroverts and introverts. Others prefer to look at how people are willing to take risks. It is only in rare occasions that people are categorised according to their effective use or abuse of time, which is critical to accomplishment of success.
Failure to categorise people this way is surprising given the impact that effective use of time or its abuse has on an organisation’s productivity and profitability. Experts say anyone who has ever managed people who abuse time knows how disruptive time abusers can be to a business’s morale and operations.
It is noteworthy that time abuse is very different from the common and well-covered problem of time management. Steven Berglas, a clinical psychologist and author of “Reclaiming the Fire: How Successful People Overcome Burnout” says while the vast majority of people can benefit from practical insights on how to organise their lives better, lessons in time management will have little impact on time abusers. Berglas adds that this is because real time abuse results from psychological conflict that neither a workshop nor a manager’s cajoling can easily cure. In his words, “Indeed, the time abuser’s quarrel is not even with time but rather with a brittle self-esteem and an unconscious fear of being evaluated and found wanting. That’s why you should focus your efforts on what makes a time abuser anxious instead of teaching him how to organise his day.”
Berglas and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator say some people see time as elastic and are quite comfortable leaving their options open. Four types of time-abusers have been identified. These are the “perfectionists” who because of their psychological problem of perfectionism are naturally unable to meet deadlines; the “preemptives” who compulsively beat the clock and finish assignments far earlier than they need to, making themselves unpopular and unavailable in the process; the “people pleasers” who commit to far too much work because they find it impossible to (politely) reject any work given them; and the “procrastinators” who make constant excuses to mask a fear of being found inadequate in their jobs.
If there is one piece of equipment in the workplace identified as the most troublesome, it is the clock. It is not that it breaks down frequently or requires much maintenance. It is just that a clock causes trouble when we either ignore it or turn it into a god by being overly subservient to it.
Dan Bobinski, president and CEO of Leadership Development, Inc., and co-author of “Living Toad Free: Overcoming Resistance to Motivation” educates that the clock is essential in business and measuring time is fundamental for a great deal of trade and commerce, but misusing the clock is a common workplace ill which is all too commonly tolerated. Bobinski stresses that those who ignore the clock are often procrastinators, perfectionists or workaholics. In his words, “Some procrastinators carry the trait naturally. Other procrastinators may find an assigned duty extremely uncomfortable or they may be unsure of how to perform a task, so they keep putting it off. Or they may have fear of failure. Whatever the cause, their delays can bring other people’s work to a standstill.”
As regards perfectionists, they often hold high standards and wish to prevent criticism of their work. They are known to spend inordinate amounts of time double- and even triple-checking each nuance of every project while other aspects of the work start piling up. “Workaholics often overstuff their day with activities, believing that long hours equate to higher production, which increases their value to a company. However, research has shown that at the heart of the issue is either poor time management or not enough delegating, which actually creates the opposite effect: Lower levels of productivity,” submits Bobinski.
According to Berglas, “Managing these types of people can be challenging, because time abusers respond differently from most people to criticism and approval.”
Contrary to Berglas’ submission that solutions to time abusers’ situation are psychological rather than focusing on time management strategies, Bobinski says, “Procrastinators, perfectionists and workaholics can all benefit from learning to plan and prioritise better. It seems counter-intuitive, but taking time to plan and prioritise actually saves time during the workday. Disciplining oneself to set boundaries and budget time for essential, bottom-line activities pays huge dividends. This can include setting personal standards for handling interruptions, restructuring time-consuming meetings and delegating that which can be done by others.”
Worshipping the clock
On the other side of the spectrum are people overly governed by the clock. They create a different set of problems by trying to squeeze the dynamics of work into tightly-controlled time segments. Because daily demands are often unpredictable, such strict time rules often appear unreasonable to a majority of people.
Research shows that there is a company that has a strict policy that everyone takes lunch between noon and one o’clock. Because this company offers services to the public, the only exception to this rule is a skeleton crew working during the lunch hour. The problem with this policy is that it lacks common sense. If an employee not assigned to work during lunch time assists a client past 12:00 noon, he or she loses that time from his or her lunch hour and still needs to be back at his or her desk at one o’clock. If you have attended to a client with twenty minutes of your lunch time and spend extra two minutes when you go for lunch, you will be sanctioned. The negative effect of this rigid observance of time is lack of commitment and productivity by employees. When people are so governed by the clock that productivity suffers, they need to take inventory of whether or not their behaviour is truly effective. Obviously, such people have taken their eyes off the big picture of organisational success through overall effectiveness. Their choice, however well-intended, is damaging to more than just themselves.
Success is defined in many ways. But time abusers often erroneously claim success by how much or how little time they devote to their work. You can stop time abuse by planning your day wisely while still maintaining a flexible, productivity-focused mindset. Do not waste time, but do not let the clock run your life, either. Effective clock use is common sense. Therefore, be responsible and reasonable. But also be real. Through this approach, you will achieve productivity and fulfilment, that is, success, with ease.
GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of https://www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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