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Massage Today
May, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 05

Expect the Unexpected

By Perry Isenberg

Do you pride yourself on being organized? Do you account for every minute of your day? Generally, appointments are scheduled every hour. Maybe you even schedule your lunch each day and are proud that you do not waste precious time.

Well, just because you account for every minute of your day and think everything is organized, doesn't mean you are making the greatest use of your time. Time management is an entirely separate skill, and it isn't determined by the mere fact that your day is crammed, or that every single minute is scheduled in your day. Actually, time management means precisely the opposite. You need to leave some time available for when the unexpected or "unplanned" happens - and it will, more often than you think.

I believe it's important to be flexible and "pad" some time in your schedule for the unexpected. I find having a daytimer makes me a bit inflexible, especially when the unexpected happens, because I have stop to re-organize everything I've written down. Scrambling around to get everything done isn't an efficient (or enjoyable) way to spend your workday.

It's a reality that occasionally, people don't show up for their scheduled appointments. What do you do with this extra "empty time space"? I have found that if I write a secondary "to-do" list, it helps me use the "new" time effectively. This list should take about 20 minutes to plan, preferably at the beginning of each week. Items on the list should be categorized by importance or priority. These are the tasks you will complete whenever you have that "extra" time originally slated for appointments. This way, you continue to be productive and do not waste time. I also try to limit phone interruptions and other distractions that usually slow me down and put me behind.

When a day is unusually hectic, I may let a few calls go to voicemail. I check the phone calls every few hours. If you get in the habit of returning phone calls within a reasonable amount of time, no one should mind. When things do not go as planned, don't panic, especially if it is something you cannot control. If you can't change it, leave it for later. Worrying about things you cannot control isn't productive. Are there tasks you wish you could do faster? Probably! There are always better and more efficient ways to do those tasks and chores! Challenge yourself - you might be surprised with the results.

Hopefully, you are a great time manager; you will have to be, with all of the appointments you have to keep. However, appointment scheduling needs to be reasonable. You cannot expect to schedule seven appointments (or more) a day and have everything run smoothly; most of the time, it won't. And what about the things you have to do in your personal life? You do have one of those, don't you? If you find you do not have the time to do the things you enjoy, rethink your time management skills.

We all have our own time-management skills that help us get through the day. I have found that these skills are acquired through practice. Some of us may find these skills a little easier to learn than others might, as we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. I believe I have found a way that works for me (most of the time), especially when the unexpected happens. I am always on the lookout for new, clever ways to get the most out of my day.

Until next time, be healthy, be good, and stay focused and motivated.

Click here for previous articles by Perry Isenberg.


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