Is What You Are Doing Contributing to Your Success?

By Topf, Michael D. | Occupational Hazards, January 2000 | Go to article overview

Is What You Are Doing Contributing to Your Success?


Topf, Michael D., Occupational Hazards


Incompletions are hazardous to your health. Here are some time management principles that can help you cope when your inbox is overflowing.

Time management continues to crop up as a key source of aggravation and stress among safety, health and environmental professionals. The way we deal with time and related stress has to do with our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.

Because of downsizing and other organizational change, many individuals are carrying multiple responsibilities: safety, health, environmental, fire, security and on and on. Even when job descriptions cover only one area, downsizing has diminished the number of staff available, leaving most of the job to one or two people with varying levels of experience. It's quite a challenge, even for the most capable of us, to stay on top of the various priorities of our jobs and deliver our promises on time in the best manner possible.

Combined with other areas of our lives and given the rush of every day life, it's commonplace to unconsciously give responsibility and control of our lives to the circumstances around us - be they business, economic or personal - leaving ourselves little or no room for creativity, fun and just plain taking care of ourselves. The way we deal with time and stress can also cause us to have accidents and, be injured!

A key to a healthy, safe and stress-reduced lifestyle is successful management of all aspects of life: career, family, financial, recreational, social, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

The first step to "coping" with the stress of priorities is to learn to manage your time effectively.

For most people, it seems that time controls us. This doesn't have to be the case. There are simple, yet effective, techniques that can allow you to regain control over your life and work. The answers are not magical; yet, each of us must do something! This "doing" comes out of our commitment to ourselves and to those people to whom we have made promises.

Time management is self-management! To manage ourselves, we need to gain a better ability to observe ourselves, our work habits and our environments. To help you in the process, the next time you walk into your office or work area, notice: What does your desk and office look like? Are there piles of paperwork, magazines, catalogs, slips of paper, "yellow stickies" with calls to make and various things to do on your desk, the floor, bookshelves or credenzas? Or is your work area well-organized, with a system to manage your priorities and next steps?

The key to improving your skills in this area is increasing your awareness of your attitudes, thinking and behaviors regarding how you manage your time and workload. Do you manage it, or does it manage you? Once you are aware of what doesn't work, you can take responsibility and make choices that will support your efficiency and effectiveness, as well as lower your stress.

As with our work with safety behaviors, we found that each of us has certain beliefs about time that shape our thinking and behaviors. Examples of such beliefs include "time is money," "there never is enough time to complete what I have to do," or "I never have time for myself." These beliefs can affect our attitudes and behaviors, cause us to be less effective in completing work and increase our levels of stress.

What are your beliefs? Think about it and write them down on a piece of paper. See how many you can come up with. Determine if they are true, real and have any merit. Many of them are false and don't. See if they support your being effective and completing your work or if they work against you. If they don't, ask yourself or others: What beliefs will support your effectiveness, health and well-being? Examples include: "I have time and am capable to do all that is required of me." "I am able to complete my commitments in an excellent manner on time as promised."

Next, ask yourself, "What is time? …

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