Time Management and Mismanagement

“He has no plan.” “He’s all talk and no action.” “He struggles to get anything done.” Do these comments sound familiar?

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine, who is a sous chef, he was complaining about one of his employees. So I became curious and began asking questions. This is what I was told; his employee is a young man who dropped-out high school, who was raised in a dysfunctional home and who is now trying to make his way in the adult working world with no skills or social graces. He works at a snail’s pace and has an excuse for everything. He behaves as if every day is his first day at work. He doesn’t seem to have any routine and struggles to get going. My friend feels frustrated and out of patience with this young man.

Obviously this young man is struggling with more than one set back. He probably has several habits or traits which are hindering his professional development. For the sake of space I will only address one issue: time management. Experience has taught me that most of the people who do well in the work force have excellent time management skills. The king and foundation of time management is “routine”. In saying that they do well I mean they are above average employees, who earn above average wages and are building a career at an above average pace.  Whether they realize it or not, they go through a mental and physical routine in their work place and therefore they get their work done in an orderly fashion with dispatch.  Establishing a routine is the essential in order to have time management skills. Without a “routine” developing time management skills will be very difficult.

We learn routines or at least we should learn them in the home. Our parents are the primary teachers of this skill. As a small child one should have been put on a regular routine with respect to bed time, waking up time, meal times, homework, etc. A child who goes to bed when he wishes does not have a routine.

Time management also involves recognizing priorities, understanding the goal of the work environment, respecting authority and adhering to rules. When a child is raised in an environment that lacks structure the road to developing time management skills becomes difficult. Our work force is highly competitive and with the weak economy, that we are presently experiencing, the competition for most jobs is very high. A person can’t just be good at their job, they must also be productive. If we do not learn these things in the home than our only hope is that we figure it out. Yes it is possible that perhaps some good soul will take time and teach us, but the truth is, our parents have the greatest influence in our lives be it good or bad.

This young man’s training days will expire soon. If he doesn’t grasp the purpose of his job and become more productive his tenure at his present job will end. My friend will hire someone else and start over.

The Anatomy of Structure

Whether a child realizes it or not, a structured home is a true blessing. Those that have it take it for granted and those that lack it usually experience high levels of stress and drama.  The degree of the chaos will be determined by the values and morals that the adults have imparted on their offspring.

To be effective, the structured environment must include boundaries and consequences, words and actions, and, most importantly, both parents must be of one accord. If a boundary is violated there must be a consequence. Words that lack action are merely hollow ideals. And a mom and a dad working as a team are a force of nature.

The Value of Structure

Structure is vital to all children, even during their summer school break. As parents we struggle with the notion of our little darlings having no down time to just be kids. But letting them sleep in until noon just because school is out is not a good plan either. Sure summer time should about fun for everyone, but just like adults need to have a balance so they can work and do other necessary things such as housework, so too a kid needs balance as well.

Athletes, are perhaps, the best example. They are usually have the busiest schedules, even during the summer time, they are usually excellent time managers and they usually make up 90% of the honor role. Do they have time to play? Of course they do. And they usually do it while maintaining balance.

The Role Model

Parents are always role models. You are a generation ahead of your offspring and therefore are always in the next phase of life. However, it is important that you behave your age and fulfill your role properly.

The age of your children is irrelevant. They will always look up to you. You don’t have to know everything about present day technology. It is your wisdom they seek. Whether you are a good or a bad role model is your choice.

Surviving the Great Uprising

Adolescence will seem, for most parents, like the time of the great uprising. Herein, all the moral values you have taught and modeled will matter the most. The opposite is also true. The values you failed to teach and model will come back to haunt you.

As in the case of one mother who asked me during the question and answer session, after I gave a speech, what she should do since she had never set down any rules for her child. The short answer: set some rules and hang on for the ride. The long answer: WW III is about to begin at your place. Good luck.

Courtroom Advice

Appearing before a judge with a bad attitude will most certainly not produce the results you expected. As incredulous as it may seem, there are those who actually have appeared in court with an attitude and expected the matter to be resolved in their favor.

Once I remember a young man grumbling out loud that he needed to go. He was in a hurry. So the judge called his case, relieved him of his driving privileges and sent him on his way. Another time a woman slammed the door on her way out and was quickly escorted back into the courtroom. She stayed the night a guest of the county jail.

Speak Directly

Speaking directly to a teen does not mean it is a negative conversation. It will prepare them for the world. Too often I hear adults, mostly  parents, skirting an uncomfortable issue for the sake of their teen’s feelings. While we should never attack and insult we should also call death, death. We should call an overdose, an overdose.

The world and its ways do not care what bothers you or your child. Over protecting them from facing reality does not prepare them for it. If anything it places a false veil over the actual events. The best way to deal with the grim realities that accompany a tragedy it to call it as it is.

To Read or Not to Read

Reading is perhaps the most vital skill which all youth must possess. And yet the vast majority of the young men I have mentored do not read. Some, very few at that, become avid readers later in life once the school of hard knocks has dealt them some serious lessons. But could this be the great deterrent to those hard knocks?

We will never know. In most cases, they have had no example of the benefits of reading or of books in their lives. Most of the homes I have ventured into are devoid of books. Children that read are usually the offspring of parents who value reading. It will difficult to be a student of life without an interest in reading.