Time management for the temporally impaired

5 Apr

I have been involved in teaching or training most of my working life.

My first job out of college was working as a substitute teacher in the local public school system. That was interesting because I worked at the schools that I attended when I was a student. As a teacher, I finally got to enter the inner sanctum of The Teacher’s Lounge.  It was like cracking the code to the door of the Education Fortress of Solitude! I found out–they have vending machines!

No wonder people devote their lives to education.

My second real job out of college was working at an answering service in San Francisco. I have no idea if technology has completely replaced answering services since then or not, but this was back in the day when everyone didn’t have voice mail. (Actually, I am pretty sure nobody has voice mail.) This was really before most folks even had an answering machine. So people paid a service to pick up their phone when they were out of the office or unavailable. Some people didn’t even have a real office, so they used the answering service to create the illusion that they had a receptionist or secretary taking care of their business while they were busy toiling over more important matters than answering the phone.  I turned out to be pretty good at that job, so I wound up training new operators.

In the years after that, I returned to the public school system, then fled the public school system, then worked in the private sector where, inevitably, I wound up training people. I also developed training. Developing training involves someone saying: “Teach this group of people about this,” and then you figure out how to make that happen in a timely fashion.

No idea why I am spouting off about all of this this morning other than I am currently working with a co-worker on developing a training class on time management.

One of the lessons I have learned during all of these years in the training field is, you often wind up teaching what you need to learn.

This would be one of those occasions.

I have managed people and I have managed processes, all with varying degrees of success.

Time, however, does not want to be managed by me. Time will not look me in the eye. Time will not return my phone calls.

I want to manage time, but time won’t let me.

Time won’t let me (oh no.) Time won’t let me…ee…ee…ee

In short, despite my best intentions, I cannot manage time. I am, in fact, time’s bitch.

I am not a procrastinator. I just don’t have a firm grasp on how quickly time passes.

Again and again I am fooled by a false sense that I have “enough” time. Then, suddenly, I don’t!

Yes, I know how to read a calendar, but that doesn’t make any difference.

I still refer to my current job as “my new job.” I’ve been employed there for 7 years now. Really, once you’re fully vested in the 401k, it is no longer your “new job.”

Technically, my current job is newer than my previous job, so in that sense it is a “new job” but really, after this much time, in all actuality, it has lost that “new job smell.”

When people ask me how my significant other and I have stayed together for 33 years, I fear they expect my response will be some nugget of relationship wisdom that they can take to the love bank. But really–what happened was, we got together, some stuff happened, more stuff happened, and then 33 years had passed. Not exactly the building block of sonnets, I know, but that is how it happened. There’s no love magic–we’re just two time challenged people who swear, in the scheme of things, we just met.

While doing my research for this upcoming training, I found a video online that I recommend to everyone (except the people who will be attending the training, because I intend to steal liberally from the content.)

Have you heard of Randy Pausch? He is the Carnegie Mellon professor who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2007.  His famous “The Last Lecture” was a viral You Tube and a book. He passed away on July 25, 2008.

After being told he had 3 to 6 months to live, Randy Paush gave a lecture on time management at the University of Virginia in November 2007.

There is a lot of standard stuff in his lecture–he doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Time management is a well covered topic. (Thank God!) What makes this lecture extraordinary is it is being delivered by a man–a young man at that–who knows he will soon be gone. He has a pretty specific deadline and so when he speaks about time management (with enormous warmth and wit) and when he mentions, without a hint of self-pity, “I don’t have time to waste on that,” you can’t help but pay attention. (Search for Randy Pausch Time Management on You Tube.)

I may be time’s bitch, but in the truth is, time isn’t really so tough. Time itself is not a bitch. It is just life. Moment by moment–life.

If I think too hard about the way I have approached time all these years, months, days and minutes , I can muster up more than a little regret and turn it into a whole head trip about how I have squandered my life.

My use of the phrase “head trip” is in itself a signifier of how much time I truly have under my belt.

But you know what—regret is one of the biggest wastes of time I can think of.

Like I said, I believe that you often teach what you need to learn. Maybe that is why the universe has brought this assignment into my life. (Actually, the universe channeled this assignment through my boss, who is actually the one who assigned this to me, but you get my point…)

There is one good thing about my relationship with time. When you live under the delusion that there is plenty of time, it makes it easier to never grow up. Some people call that “immaturity” but they’re just pissy ’cause they did grow up.

I know–you can’t be a kid forever. We all have responsibilities, dammit! I know that. I have a mortgage. I pay my taxes. I show up at work on time. All I am saying is, you can still embrace your better child-like qualities without being childish all the time.

Speaking of time…

It is time for me to get on my bicycle and ride to work!

I maybe temporally challenged, but I can still tell time.

Happy Thursday!

3 Responses to “Time management for the temporally impaired”

  1. enwayne April 5, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    Since we’re invoking songs, “Welcome to my world …”

  2. Pamela N Red April 5, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    My husband is the biggest kid I know. He still collects and plays with Frisbees. I got him a birthday card with an old man riding a tricycle and inside it says, “It’s time you grew up.”

    He won’t though. He loves toys more than most little kids.

  3. Mary Atwood April 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    I am so bad at managing time lately that I am posting this comment on your blog of last Thursday on the following Monday. (that is one confusing statement)

    Anyway, I love this. And I am time’s bitch too. She has her way with me all the time.

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