10 February 2013

Where’s The Time For Me?

At a past Australian Boarding Schools Association conference in Canberra I asked the audience: ‘What are your greatest challenges in relation to time?’

Not only did I get the usual ones such as interruptions, email, procrastination, how to prioritise and staying motivated, but in a larger proportion than usual came the cry: ‘How do I find time for my family, and how do I find time for me?’

This same issue comes from every teaching group. However, when your busiest work hours are before and after school and yet normal school hours are also work hours for you, essentially you’re never off the job even when asleep – unless you are very deliberate about it. Although many boarding establishments (especially the larger ones) have good staff rosters, it was surprising how many of those wonderful people found it very hard to step away, to know when to say ‘No’.

I’ve thought about this topic a lot. In fact, this ability to say ‘no’ is, I firmly believe, the most valuable time management tool we have.

The problem often is that senior and/or very responsible people are reluctant to risk the wheels falling off. And teachers, by the very nature of their work, are wired to care about others, are wired to ‘serve’.

Of course, this article isn’t restricted just to teachers. One of the hardest things for anyone who loves their work, who consistently goes the extra mile, who naturally enjoys being supportive and helpful (and I include myself in this category), is to know when to stop. Especially when we’re first learning a new job, or there’s a major project on, it’s very difficult to know when to let go.

Of course there are times when we just have to knuckle down and complete a task. Perhaps something’s got an urgent deadline, or by working long hours for a short time we’ll create a block of free time. However, pushing our endurance limits all the time is not only poor time management but also has all manner of repercussions.

So, what can we do about it?

Try these two tips. The first one is a macro solution; the second is a day-by-day fabulous and simple survival strategy.

1. Remove yourself from temptation – get away from your environment. (And don’t take work with you!)

Harvey, a regional school advisor, was asked by one of his principals to speak to a young first year teacher. It was nearly half-way through the first year. Amanda was very keen and doing great work, but her principal had begun to worry about her. Her car was first in the car park every morning, last to leave each night. Any time he was at school she was there, and when he drove past the school on weekends her car would be there again.

The advisor could immediately see why her principal was concerned: Amanda was treading a rocky path with an almost guaranteed result – burnout and stress-related illness.

Over a coffee Harvey gave her the following advice. ‘At least once a month have a completely free weekend. Leave school on Friday night at the same time as the children. Take no work home. If possible, leave town. Don’t arrive at school on Monday morning until you need to.’

Harvey described to me what happened: ‘She looked at me with relief. It was as if rocks had rolled off her shoulders. She’d become so bogged down with all the new things she wanted to learn and achieve that she’d lost sight of the end goal – to have a great teaching career. The very next weekend she was gone – having fun. I believe her principal’s timely intervention is what saved a bright young woman for our industry.’

2. Take power naps

Usually when I talk about this the bulk of the audience look at me with disbelief. I was delighted with my boarding people that at least a third of the 200 people in the room nodded their heads with approval – they were already doing it.

There is a direct correlation between a tiring and less productive afternoon and no real ‘brain breaks’.

Here’s the explanation. Various biological rhythms flow through our body all day, all night. Ultradian rhythms are just one sort. Loosely translated ultra = many and dian = day – the many rhythms of the day. They cycle continuously through our body like rolling waves – 90 – 120 minutes up; 20 minutes down – repeated day and night.

The down cycle is not a negative thing – instead it’s the rest cycle that our body needs to recharge, rebuild and to grow. If we keep pushing through these down cycles, if we don’t give our body a chance to recharge, we push the poor old thing into flight or fight. The consequence? You already know. Stress, exhaustion, burnout and sickness.

Almost everyone I’ve challenged on this has agreed that they become less effective in the afternoon if they keep pushing on. They end up dragging their weary body home at the end of the day – not much use to themselves or loving family waiting for their share of time. Nor much use to their employer.

So what to do about it? Don’t work all day as if you’re a machine. Even machines have to stop for servicing! Morning and afternoon tea breaks and a lunch break away from your normal tasks – they’re some of the simple solutions. (Winston Churchill is probably our most famous power napper – this simple technique kept him operating at full steam through all those tough war years.)

In many countries people nap after lunch either at their desks or in special nap rooms. And what about the famous continental siesta? Do a Google for ‘power naps’.

If you’re a classroom teacher you might find it harder to create gaps, but there are all manner of creative ways to ‘rest your eyes’. Even if you can’t get a power nap, at least regularly step away from your work environment, get outdoors, recharge and refresh yourself.

A comment from Richard Stokes, who was the BSA Executive Director, after my speech: ‘Sometimes we just need someone to give us permission to do what we know in our heart of hearts is the solution; to know that it’s ok to put boundaries around the time we make available for others.’

What marker will you put in the ground to enhance your quality of life? Circumstances will move to accommodate you – once you make the commitment.





Are your days too short, workload too large and work-life balance a pipe dream?

Take a look at these Books, E-books, CDs/Teleseminars, Online Courses/Webinars and Tools. They provide practical, effective and easy to implement ways for you to free up your time, improve your productivity and reduce stress from overload.



Webmasters/Ezine Publishers: Would you like to use this article?
You are invited to use any of our articles in your publication or website. The only requirements are that we are included on your mailing list, and that you include the following, after each article you use...

Robyn Pearce CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is the Time Queen. She mastered her own time challenges and now helps people around the world overcome theirs. She can show you how to transform your time challenges into high productivity and the life balance you desire.

Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at gettingagrip.com.

© All Rights Reserved to Robyn Pearce, GettingAGrip.com, 25 Keven Road, R.D.4, Pukekohe, South Auckland 2679, New Zealand Ph.+ 64 9 232 0523


If you'd like Robyn to write something specific for your industry, please email us with your request.

Planning & Prioritising Online Course, $100 introductory price

Get Your Free
'How To Master Time'
Report

Image

Plus your FREE Time Resources Pack (Valued at $227)




Image

Client Testimonials

Catalyst For Efficiency ImprovementsIt was great to introduce our two job-share receptionists to Robyn’s Getting a Grip on The Paper War text.  It became a catalyst for us to improve our administration proce..." Marie Collins, Business Manager, The NZ Institute of Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

Enhanced Efficiency Thank you for all the tips and words of advice you and your team have sent through.I have been constantly reading it and it does wonders to my line of work and also being a wife and mot..." Anaseini Liku, Communication & Media Coordinator, Ministry of Education, Cook Islands

Clear Directions Enhance Use Of TimeI have just finished reading 'Getting a Grip on Time' and 'Getting a Grip on the Paper War'.  Particularly your book on 'Time' got me back on track, and during the day I catc..." Ingrid Geerlings, Owner, www.houseofmilk.com

Leadership Book Helps To find the Real Me‘I’ve just been reading ‘Getting a grip on Leadership’.  It is very good and has had an impact on me.  I realised I’d lost my way a bit re who I am ..." Heather Millar, Manager, Professional Practice, Central North Island Kindergarten Association, New Zealand

Additional $120,000 Billed After Time Management CourseI have personally known Robyn Pearce for around 16 years. From time to time my firm has contracted Robyn on a project basis to work with our professional staff as well as partners in the fi..." John Hackett, Partner, A J Park, New Zealand

The Librarian Who Got Her Life Back!The kick-start that I needed was delivered by a velvet glove, but make no mistake the iron hand within the glove ensured that the message was received and understood. If you are going to spend some..." Heather Jenks, Associate University Librarian (Research and Learning Services), University of Canterbury

Increasing Personal Confidence And Job ManagementHaving worked already very successfully with our NZ Team, Robyn's support of the Australian Team over a 12-month period was fundamental to helping us cope with increased day to day workload - espec..." Julia Braun, General Manager - Marketing, Beiersdorf Australia

A Great Empathy And Affinity With PeopleI have used Robyn as an Executive Coach for key Senior Staff for a number of years now and couldn't recommend her more highly. I've found as people step up in the organisation they often struggle t..." Merilyn Havler, Then General Manager, Beiersdorf New Zealand

An Increase of 30% In Gross Turnover Due To Better SystemsWhen we reviewed the progress made as a result of your concepts, a staggering number of them had become an integral part of our day to day business, collectively making a huge difference to our eff..." Wayne & Lisa Hughes, Occupational Therapy Helping Children, NSW, Australia

Motivational And Thought Provoking SessionI'd like to highlight the benefits felt both by the staff members attending your sessions, and the motivational flow-on effects experienced throughout the Hotel.In the developmental sta..." Human Resources Manager, Wentworth Hotel (part of the Rydges chain)

Successful Paper Management Seminar Thank you for your interesting and indeed challenging speech. I could see all the people who've ..." Australian Institute of Credit Managers, Sydney Branch

Personalised Seminar For Long-term Results On behalf of the team at Strategic Lifestyle Management and our client Lend Lease I would..." SLM Conference and Incentive Manager, for client Lend Lease

Excellent Skilful Presenter "Thank you for the practical and informative Time Management seminar you recently gave to our senior m..." HR Manager, ANA Hotel, Sydney

Improve Your Organisation And Productivity The response to the program was extremely positive, with an average rating of 4.4 out of ..." Noel Cook, GM, Outdoor Network, Australia

Organisational Skills Improve To Lift Productivity Your time management seminars are one of the best things we've ever done. Weeks l..." Centrelink, Dubbo, New South Wales

Productivity Increased 50% Now several months later and my productivity has increased between 30% and 50%. I'm seeing more and bette..." Senior financial planner, IPAC, Australia

Timesaving Techniques Learned A wonderful surprise to learn how much I had improved since the first programme with you nine months a..." National Sales Manager, Personal Insurance, GIO Australia

Control Gained In Managing Time Feedback from the staff was very positive... all felt they had gained a great deal of control and di..." MD, C.Y. O'Connor College of TAFE, Northam, WA

Immediate Action For Change A lot of great new ideas and some very good new tools that I shall start implementing immediately. Group Services Trainer, Adecco

Increased Efficiency Saves 20-25 Minutes A Day "Many practical hints which helped me reorganise my office, to operate efficiently." ..." Senior Partner, Baldwins (Patent Attorneys)

Invaluable Resources In Time Management Books I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on the flexibility of your approach, and..." Human Resources Manager, Professional Services Review, Canberra

Self Management Crucial In Time Management You presented a most informative and challenging training session. Your ability to gain q..." Human Resources Manager, Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal of NSW

'Time Management Guru'! Once again you combine an enthusiastic presentation style with useful tips and techniques. Succinct and fun ..." Manager - Training & Development, Real Estate Institute of NSW

Beneficial Time Management Ideas Your presentation was brilliant, and your thoughts on how to make time management beneficial to eve..." Barbara McCarthy, President, Chatswood Chamber of Commerce, Sydney

Informative And Energising Speech We could not have chosen better. Your contribution was just what we wanted and needed, and I was t..." Raewyn James, Tamaki Teachers' Conference

Positive Feedback For Speech Robyn, you gave a fantastic speech, and I am still having positive feedback about your talk to this day..." Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator, Swiss Grand Hotel, Bondi, and co-ordinator of Eastern Suburbs Women's Breakfast

Work Life Balance Put Into Practice I know everyone who attended was fascinated by all your planning tips and I know many have put t..." Solo Home Business Network, Sydney

IT Company Gains Insight Into Effective Time Management We were very impressed... everyone gained considerable insight to effective ..." MD, IT software company, Auckland

Professional Approach Reinforces Time Management Principles Following a number of very positive reference checks we invited Robyn Pe..." Godfrey Pembroke National Conference, Hobart, Tasmania

Staff Queue For Time Management Tips! "Thank you! I'm sure you could tell from everyone's enthusiasm that they enjoyed your presenta..." Programme Director, Pioneer SWAP

Specific Personalised Advice Benefits Group Robyn gave much more than the professional information imparted in this kind of session...." Principal Heritage Officer, Heritage Council NSW

They're 'screaming for more'! Thanks for your wonderful presentation. I've had a lot of positive feedback from our staff, and they c..." GM's assistant, Austereo, Australia

L.J. Hooker Predicts Great Success In Using Their Time Your down-to-earth common sense certainly hit home to a lot of people, and the feedba..." Lyn McDermott, Ass. Director, Marketing and Communication, L.J. Hooker Ltd

5 Stars For Time Management Course Robyn, in light of this morning's session (and comments about short emails!) I could leave it the..." Wilf Marley, Principal, Marley Loft Systems (Accountants)

Simple Practical Action Steps For Work Life Balance We've had great feedback since your last session with the NZ Institute of Charte..." Denise Bovaird, Past President, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants

Improved Focus And Concentration After Time Management Course Since your time management course our managers have found that they ca..." John Moore, Then-HR Manager, International Cricket Council, Dubai

Jam-packed Personalised Seminar Very Effective   Robyn spoke to four of my Academy groups in the space of 11 days. I wa..." Barrie Barrett, Chairman, Academy for Chief Executives, United Kingdom

Awesome says Law Clerk, Bell Gully I just thought I'd spend a few minutes in the Proactive/Value-adding quadrant and let you know ho..." Law Clerk, Bell Gully, New Zealand

Excellent 'Management' Course, As Well As 'Time Management' I would like to extend a huge thank you for making your valuable time av..." David Greenslade, Managing Director, Strategi, New Zealand

We've Regained 30% Of The Time We Used to Lose! Since we worked with Robyn 5 months ago our team of 12 underwriters and support staf..." Senior Underwriter, QBE Insurance, New Zealand

Fantastic Course - Team Feedback Extremely Positive! Thanks very much for the Time Management programme you have conducted over the ..." Gareth McCulloch, National Sales Manager, Southern Hospitality Limited

 
Timely appointment scheduling system