Have You Got a Minute?
Do you have enough time to do ail the things you want to do? Probably not. What about the things you have to do? Again, probably not.
Meanwhile, at national conferences like the recent Fire Department Instructors Conference and at state and local training sessions we are exposed to many exciting ideas. But back on the job we don t always follow through on those ideas. The problem: limited resources. On the fireground or in the office we never have enough money, personnel, apparatus, tools, water, time.
As the influential consultant and author Peter Drucker said, “Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”
Oops. If that is true then we at Fire Engineering have not quite measured up as far as covering time management is concerned.
We have featured numerous articles about all those important resources above, except time.
A few words, then, about time management.
Take time to plan; it will save you time. Any complicated task takes time to get organized and time for execution of the task. Research shows that when time is spent up front for planning, the overall time for completion is less than when execution was attempted right away.
Assign priorities to your tasks and concentrate first on the most important things.
Identify your time wasters and control them. Visitors, telephone calls, meetings and lack of training often fall into this category.
Delegate. Why get bogged down in details when others can help? But don’t delegate accountability without delegating authority to carry out the task. And don’t let subordinates delegate upward without good cause. That happens when subordinates are able to put tasks back on the manager because of a lack of confidence or training in the subordinate.
Time management involves more than this, of course. I just wanted to start you thinking about it while we work on a more complete article.
We regularly hear from readers who comment that they have been getting Fire Engineering for 20 (or 25 to 30) years. While the comment is often meant as a compliment to the practical and technical content of the magazine, we believe those readers deserve credit tor preserving a curiosity for learning. Another editor s words are appropriate: “Being a lifelong learner is not a casual matter. We all know that human nature is such that without discipline our lazy minds and fearful egos would find endless excuses not to do something new.” Here’s to all you lifelong learners . . .