Monday, May 17, 2010

Time Management

So, I'm rushing down the street late - as usual - to an appointment. And someone steps in front of me and says "Excuse me, could I have a couple minutes of your time?" (Apply appropriate British accent since this is London and all). And I yell at him "I'm late" as I push him aside thinking "are you for real? Like I would have any time!" (I'm also thinking kind of mean things like "if I did have time would I spend it speaking to you?" - this would of course have been reconsidered if he was super attractive, and "I'm way too important to spend time talking to you."

But out of the corner of my eye, I see him catch the woman behind me and she is all like "sure I have some time" and she whips off her ipod headphones and settles in on the sidewalk to answer his questions. And right down the street his buddy has managed to capture another woman's time. And neither of them looked stressed or put out at all!

And I start to think... maybe it's just me who doesn't have time. Amazingly enough, it does seem like OTHER PEOPLE HAVE TIME! (Other people also don't seem to feel that they are too important to talk to random people soliciting them on the street. Well noted. I will add this to my steps to becoming a better person blog post: "try not to feel self important for no reason; make time for others even though they may seem inferior to you." Ooops - well. I'll work on phrasing that one right if I ever do manage to write a blog post about becoming a better person. Don't hold your breath).

So, I'm starting to realize that it might just be me who kind of sucks at time management. The thing is that I am perpetually late for EVERYTHING (except airplane and trains and things that really run on a strict schedule - then I'm so freaked out about missing them because I know that I'm a perpetually late person, that I end up ridiculously early although still usually stressed that I'm somehow late). For example, even though I live exactly 1 minute walking distance to my office, I am still late every day. If there is a meeting, I am inevitably the last person in the room. If I'm meeting a friend, I leave them waiting for me (unless they know me really well and then I usually wait for them if I ever happen to be in the vicinity of the right time as they always expect me to be late). Besides being the most impatient person ever, my other huge weakness as a manager/colleauge is not being able to stick to a meeting schedule - EVER. I perpetually run my days 10 mins behind. I tell my teams that if they have a meeting with me... that for planning purposes, they can expect me to be 10 mins late and that I apologize in advance. I also find myself running - yes, running and looking very cool as I sprint down King's Road in my work clothes - to appointments when I make them during the work day. The back Doctor who I see on a regular basis right now always seems slightly amused that I manage to turn up out of breath and sweaty to each and every appointment - he also has suggested that running with a heavy handbag might not be the best thing for my back. Point taken Doc. But I swear every day I try to leave the office a little bit earlier and every time someone pulls something urgent on me right as I put on my coat. I feel like putting on my coat is like the universal sign for everyone to freak out and start asking me questions. Jeez. I'll be back in an hour. I'm SURE the world will not fall apart in that amount of time. And if it does start to, well that's what Blackberrys are for!

For those of you who are thinking that the fact that I'm late for everything shows a total lack of respect for everyone else who is waiting for me... Well, I promise this is not true - it just means I'm late (always) and actually feeling bad about (always). Although you might not believe me after the comments from the first paragraph (seriously, I am a very very nice person - just not on Mondays).

My problem is that I am a time hoarder. And a time filler. I have an action packed schedule every day. I hate wasting time - I love to overpopulate my agenda. And, i I EVER find myself running early for something, then I quickly come up with at least one (usually 2) projects that I think I can accomplish in the extra 5 mins I might be running ahead. So, I try to squeeze that in quickly and it inevitably takes longer than I planned (and if it doesn't, I inevitably squeeze something else in). These small project include but are not limited to: cleaning the bathroom, various laundry tasks, trying out new hairstyles in the mirror, looking at my pores, rearranging my closet by color, decalcifying the espresso machine (that small project that was going to take me 5 mins managed to take me one hour and made me totally late for EVERYTHING for the entire weekend), checking emails, writing "just one more email" (this is what makes me so late I work), writing this blog, updating my CV etc. You get the picture.

The good thing is, that I'm very productive when I have something else to do or somewhere else I should be - I mean you should see just how much I can get done before going to the gym.

As an old habit, I like to blame my lateness on my best friend from high school S. S is one of the few people in the world who is later than me for everything. I mean like WAY later. In high school we would drive to school together in the morning and we were always trying to convince some teacher (usually of the male variety) to give us a pass so we could pretend we were not really just plain late. We were always the last girls out of the locker room, the last girls off the bench and onto the softball field and the last people to get into the classroom. This summer as we will attend two weddings together, I'm already thinking about the fact that this time we need to get there in a timely fashion. I'm hoping that my other best friend from high school K will sort us out (although I know she hates that we rely on her to do that) because last time S and I went to a wedding together we managed to make it into our seats just seconds before the bride went down the aisle with lots of snickers (don't you love that word) and giggles from those around us who knew us from high school as the girls who are late to everything. But I have to admit that while for a short time in high school and for the couple times a year we see each other now, she does have a negative influence on my timeliness, I can't really find a way to blame her for the fact that I'm ALWAYS late on my own when living on a separate continent from her. So, S - I guess you are finally off the hook. But let's try to get to the weddings on time this year (and hopefully the directions are right this time - see there is always a good excuse for lateness).

So, I guess it's time to take ownership of my own lateness. I'm going to set a new goal to try to be on time (at least half of the time). I'm going to get up 10 minutes earlier. I'm going to watch my clock better at work and see if I can stay on schedule. I'm going to leave on time for my appointments and walk rather than run. I'm not going to send "just one more email" or start "just one small project." And next time someone on the street asks me if they can "have a couple minutes of my time," well I'm probably still not going to talk to them because I probably will still have better things to do (well unless I've started my "be a better person" project by then). But maybe I will at least be able to consider stopping to talk to them because this time, I won't be late!

But oh look. It's now 10 pm. I was planning to go to the gym. But I've procrastinated so long that the gym is now closed. I'm already off to a great start.

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