Walter E. Johnson
Compliance & Ethics Professional
Organizations are finalizing their strategies for the upcoming year. Ethics and Compliance Officers are updating their programs. Individuals are updating their personal and career goals and some are creating resolutions. One topic worth evaluation is time management. Jim Rohn once stated, “Either I run the day or the day runs me.” Personally, I have been in both of these categories. Of course, I feel better when I am running the day but I have experienced several accomplishments when the day runs me.
Acknowledging that time is managing you is the first phase to correcting this undesirable behavior. Time management is a common problem. From pocket planners to 3-inch binder planners, there are numerous gadgets and apps to help with managing time but the best remains awareness. Simply acknowledge time is being wasted is one way to manage time. After acknowledgement, deciding to make productive use of time is a step in the appropriate direction. Several authors on this subject recommend writing your daily goals at the beginning of each day or at the end of the previous day. I admit, I have not been diligent about writing my goals every day. I have a mental picture but an email, hotline call, or a “flyby” conversation can easily change my best intentions. For those who are unable to commit to a daily routine, a few others suggest a weekly routine. Write goals either Sunday evening or Monday morning and review each day to ensure objectives are met by Friday. I have a hybrid routine that fluctuates from daily goal writing to weekly goal writing; my routine is driven by my deadlines. One approach to remaining aware is to use timers or daily reminders. For example, set a timer at midday to determine the status and likelihood of accomplishing desired objectives. This midday assessment provides an opportunity to shift priorities, when necessary.
Maximize for Self-Development
Over the years I’ve had several commutes ranging from 1 to 2 hours each way. Although multi-tasking while driving is not encouraged, commuting with the appropriate tools can be very productive. Mostly, I listen to audio books or movie scores during my commutes. Sometimes, I participate in conference calls and in others, I commit to quiet time to capitalize on my creativity. At the end of the movie “Michael Clayton”, Michael gets into a taxi and asks the driver to give him $50 bucks worth (of driving around Manhattan). This is quiet scene. There is no talking to the driver and no music. This scene is Michael reflecting on the events that just occurred. I find that eliminating distractions during my commute contributes to my productivity, also. When waiting at traffic signals, sometimes I write my thoughts on Post-It notes. Many of my compliance program ideas and professional articles have originated at traffic signals. As soon as an idea comes to mind, I write it down. One of my favorite quotes is, “Heavy action on a great idea.”
Recently, I purchased 2 dictation apps. The first app provides recording and playback features. The second app provides recording, playback, typing and email features. Although I am still learning the advantages and disadvantages of each app, these tools are helping me with efficient use of my time. Reserving time to learn different techniques to become efficient is equally as important as reserving time to watch one of my favorite television shows.
Adding Value to Others
Another favorite quote is, “Nothing of significance has been accomplished by one person.” When individuals become proficient in managing their time, sharing their best practices and contributing to other initiatives is a recommended use of their time. These initiatives may be social, charitable, organizational, or all of the above. I read an interview of a musician who was not interested in becoming a musician. His friends were interested in becoming musicians so he supported them by attending their recording sessions. A few times a week, they attended recording sessions after school. When the aspiring artists were recording and writing, the interviewee would write and during their breaks, they would chat about the school day. Everyone thought the interviewee was completing home assignments during the recording sessions. Quickly, they learned what he was doing. To their surprise, he used this time to write his perspective to their songs. Welcoming his insight, it became a normal routine for them to ask him what he had written. Sometimes his verses did not fit the subject of their songs and other times it did. When it did, they encouraged him to be a guest artist in their songs. Eventually, he recorded over 300 songs with them and toured with the group.
By minimizing distractions and identifying inefficiencies, time management has the ability to change the lives of individuals, organizations, and society.
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