CHOW #69– Never enough time

I have recently joined a GIC as a Delivery Manager looking after a portfolio of projects and support engagements for the U.S. parent. John is a Project Manager looking after one of the support engagements. John has grown fast as the GIC grew in India and has taken on quite a few responsibilities. He is married with a wonderful two-year old girl. He often feels he is doing justice neither to his job nor to his family.

“How are you, John?” I ask, as we sit down for a 1:1 session. John slumps into the chair with a sigh. His exhausted frame and creased forehead tell the story. “I cannot figure this out”, says John. He continues, “I am working long hours including week-ends yet there is never enough time to get things done”.

“I know the feeling, John”, I said and continued “Tell me more. What’s bothering you?” John responds, “I seem to have too much on my plate and my list of things to do is unending. There is never enough time at work and never enough time for family. Everything is delayed”.

I probe, “What kind of activities are on this list?”

“These are not just so much directly project stuff – but other tasks that come to me from management, HR, Quality function, Global Risk function, etc.”

“What about things outside of work?”

“Not many things there. I am the financial secretary for the apartment complex where I live. I volunteered because our society’s finances were in a mess and needed streamlining. I visit an orphanage occasionally to help them set up their computer systems – wish I could do more for them. Not much else”

How would you go about helping, John?

Suggested solution:

John’s situation is fairly common – particularly for ambitious professionals. I have personally been there in my life. Good thing is John is aware of the problem. That is a big step. From there on, here are a few things that one can get John thinking about:

1. Often professionals have strong desires/goals about their career and finances. As much attention is not paid to other areas like family, health, social, spiritual. John could be encouraged to introspect and figure out how he sees those areas – where he stands and where he would like to be. Often conversations with spouse help in this regard. If John has mentors or role models that would help as well. John can identify certain actions that he can take that will give him short term and longer term benefits. For example, in the short-term, he can choose to work long hours during the week and NOT to work during the week-ends. In the long-term, he can decide to have a holiday with family once in six months or spend time with parents every quarter, etc.

2. Let us take a look at his challenges at work. John could think about his approach to making and delivering on his commitments – is he tending to over-commit? Is he accepting too many tasks or initiatives? Is he prioritizing his activities based on importance and urgency or only urgency? A few actions can be drawn to improve both how much he is taking up and how he is prioritizing them. For example, he could pull out of certain initiatives to free up bandwidth. A simple to-do-list and spending 15 minutes every morning may be good enough to manage his priorities better.

3. John needs to understand that: more time does not mean more output.

4. Finally, John needs to take time out for himself to ‘sharpen the saw’. Find ways to hone his skills; Get better physically and mentally – yoga, mindfulness practices, exercise, sports, etc are some ways that he could consider.

Hope this helps. Any views are welcome.

What do you think?

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