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Time Management Fail

First week of the new year and already a time management improvement I was trying failed miserably.  I had blocked off time in my calendar this morning to work on some writing and upcoming presentations.  Instead, I’ve spent the last four hours:

  • attending a scheduled training session;
  • sitting down with staff who wanted to rework some of our budget lines for more accurate management of our collection costs.  It was a great idea and unfortunately needed to get implemented today because of the new fiscal year;
  • responding to a Web site crisis (a link on the corporate site was returning an error) which seems to be an improperly configured internal network since the link works for external users and for internal users using our publicly accessible wireless network;
  • responding to a contract review request for an external subsidiary that also needed to be completed immediately (and which showed that the electronic subscription modified a term that wasn’t defined in the agreement – sloppy in-house counsel).

After this I ended up moving on to smaller projects and tasks because the large block of time that I had hoped for had dissipated.  I’m going to continue to try the method of blocking off time (so that people who look at my calendar are aware that I am not available) but it requires also ignoring the phone and e-mail to avoid interruption.  If the environment doesn’t allow for that, it’s probably not going to work.

There are so many challenges to time management.  As a manager, I find that time spent in the office usually has to assume regular interruption with very little uninterrupted thinking or work.  In the past, I would typically work outside the office – in the library, at a coffee shop, from home – on a large project or one that needed uninterrupted time.  There are some things that can be delegated but my role seems to straddle both strategy and operations and so it means that planning for blocks of uninterrupted time often have to take a back seat to non-delegable tasks that arise, particularly when the task isn’t something over which I have control.

Time to go re-caffeinate and see what else I can get accomplished.

David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.