Outlook Fall 2021

By Rose Epperson on Friday, October 1, 2021

Outlook Fall 2021 – Time Marches On.

What the heck? It’s fall already? I admit we did have one hot, dry summer but still time seems to be flying by. I mean whizzing by. Some say as you get older, the clock ticks faster but let’s be honest, there are still only 24 hours in a day. Effective time management is about working smarter and moving in the right direction. In today’s fast paced world, we often find ourselves going in a thousand directions at once. Many of us play the role of estimator, scheduler, recruiter, and even mechanic from time to time. We live in an age of 24/7 communication, where we seldom “turn off” the clock. But the truth is there are still only 24 hours in a day - 8 for sleep, 8 for self and 8 for sale – if you deter from that it’s your choice. But seriously, who am I kidding? We can all attest to the imbalance of time in our day, month, year (and yikes, decade). When striving for the illusive work/life balance, managing our time is really the key.

Chances are we have all taking a time management course at some point in our professional development. There is no planning technique or training progress that will allow us to squeeze even another minute out of the day; however, we can manage the use of our time to create a more productive work environment.

As employers, we are expected to understand and adhere to the legal implications of time management. Our state and federal regulations designate many wage and hour laws that determine how we schedule our work as well as defining appropriate payroll processes. Working outside those guidelines can lead to penalties and even legal action. The Western Chapter is not one size fits all. We cover a vast, geographically-diverse, multi state area. It’s best to consult your own state’s employment agency to make sure you are complying with the changing laws and regulations.

Two things that can severely impact the performance of you and your crews are stress and negativity. Practicing good time-management techniques helps to reduce stress by keeping your work on schedule and in good shape to meet approaching deadlines. When you're less stressed, you're also less likely to feel negatively about your job. Having a negative attitude at work can affect the way you communicate with both employees and customers. Customers are more likely to contract with companies whose employees are enthusiastic about their work. Because proper time management helps you accomplish more in the allotted time, it can help you adopt a more positive attitude in the workplace.

My own biggest time suck lies in the electronic communications. Remember the Tom Hanks movie, “You’ve Got Mail”? Its premise seemed so sweet and harmless, but yet here we are tethered to our email and messaging services. I find myself answering to each bleep and buzz. Quite frankly, over the last 18 months this has become even more true. Working from home there is no separation – you really have got to set hard boundaries for yourself (not to mention your spouse or significant other, employees, and especially your kids).

I do have some tried and true “tools” that I am calling on these days to keep my sanity. My go to is the standard “To Do” list – whether you use your Outlook task tracker or a simple steno pad, keeping a list is a great way to keep your work in order. An extra bonus is the ability to look back on what you actually did accomplish. There is something satisfying in crossing things off! Although it seems outdated, the simple system of prioritizing work with A (must get done) B (should get done) and/or C (would be nice to do) helps me meet deadlines while still finding time for other activities. Every month or so I take a hard look at the “C”s – if I don’t see an interest they go right into the round file!

All work and no play is not the way to create a successful organization. Scheduling “me” time is essential. Take time out to go to a game (especially if your child is on the field), take the team to lunch or even bring in pizza to celebrate the completion of a big job or project. I try practice a “touch it once” philosophy. Instead of shuffling papers, I do the quick tasks right away and then batch like items for a future (scheduled) timeslot. This allows me to use my time and energy to the fullest. Knowing my energy cycle helps me get the tough work done with the energy is highest. There is nothing worse than trying to tackle the big report while your head is somewhere else.

Last but not least – I try to follow the principal of “Walk the Talk” - whatever you expect of your employees, expect the same of yourself. Example: if you expect them to be at work at 8:00 a.m., then be there at 7:55 a.m. If staff needs help, then roll up your sleeves and give them help. Become part of the team. That includes respecting their own time management by starting and stopping meetings on time and only using the scheduled amount of time to complete the business at hand.

At the chapter office, we rely heavily on good time management strategies. We are deadline driven and do our best to stay focused on the task at hand. This month we are convening with the 2022 Conference Committee to start working on “Innovative Arboriculture: Experiencing the Urban Forest.” We are excited to be back in person in the coming year. We are dusting off our planners and indeed “rolling up our sleeves” with a great group of local professionals that will bring the best of Oakland to you! Conference Chair Gordon Matassa, along with Vice Chair Sara Davis, is dedicated to the conference planning timeline. It’s sure to be a wonderful experience and chance to reconnect with old colleagues and connect with new ones too.

Effective time management is really a life study. There is no one way that works for everyone. I complement the techniques above with delegation of activities to my key team members. I have a knowledgeable team that truly loves their work. From elections to awards, to events and qualifications, and even this magazine – organization of time is the key to making the most of the 24 hours each day holds. I would love to hear what time management tools you use. What works and what still needs discovery? Drop me a line at repperson@wcisa.net - I will reply during my scheduled “email” time. ;)

Make sure to remember to take that time for yourself – stay healthy and keep growing. Hope to see you all soon.

Until next time,