Greetings, readers!

I just started listening to and reading this site in the last 8 months.  I've been doing a lot of catch-up, and recently listened to the podcasts on time management and the "juggling koan".

I have a question, and I'm hoping someone can direct me to more podcasts or forum discussions germane to the topic.

My experiences regarding work time have been that my managers have taken an approach to putting time in at work that is largely self-managed.  (I have been an IT employee for various manufacturing companies for 12 years).   The approach can often be summed up as, "You aren't hourly - you are salary.   You don't need to track what you are working on every hour.  Put in a minimum of 45 hours each week, and be available on your cell for the rare off hours call.  We don't keep track of sick time. Rather than be all sticklers on that, you should go home when the work is done."

One thing I took away from the time management and Juggling koan podcasts was that there is always work to be done, and everyone is going home with work unfinished.  The key was finding WHICH work could be left undone.  Which "balls" could be dropped from the juggle or delegated.  I've not been in a position to delegate, so deciding which ball I could drop has been a challenge.

The management style of "go home when your work is done" and the time management recommendations appear to be at odds.  I've assumed in the past that the more professional thing to do is to put in more time each week, which has been detrimental to my job satisfaction and to my family.  Or, in my early career, I've taken the less professional route of letting slide ("ball drop") those things that won't get noticed. Things I felt were not getting me appreciated by my managers.  Examples would be regular backup restore testing or fully error-handling my code for every possibility.  I've learned to regret that option.

This management style seems very common, in my experience.   If it is at odds with the time management and juggling koan recommendations,  I'd love to be directed to podcasts and forum discussions that talk about it.  If I'm wrong, and they aren't at odds, I'd love to be directed to podcasts or forum discussions that tell me how to make them work together better.



ken_wills's picture

Paul - thank you for your great post.  It's great because it shows how HARD this topic is!  I'll be brief and suggest to bits I've learned along the way:

- Go home when your productivity drops.

I learned this from a CEO of a billion $$ marketing agency.  He said once that although there was enough work to keep him busy as many hours as he could stay awake, after a certain number of hours, he knew that he's lost his edge, and was sort of just treading water.  He knew that by going home and resting - and then coming back tomorrow refreshed - he'd actually be more productive.

- Go home when you can create more value at home that you can at work.

You mentioned that your long hours are taking their toll at home.  That's a BIG deal - and you're lucky to have noticed it.  Sometimes you just have to step back and take a look at what you're doing, and ask yourself if, in the great arc that's you life, spending a few more hours grinding away at work will really create more value than spending those few hours at home, volunteering, re-energizing with a hobby, whatever.


This is a problem you never really "fix."  Make good decisions, evaluate the outcomes, and adjust.  But don't second-guess or beat yourself up.  It really boils down to the old adage: Do the best you can.


Good luck!