Sunday, October 12, 2008

Managing your most valuable asset: Your time

from Hiram's Handbook
by Bro. Wayne T. Adams
Grand Lodge of Maine

You now have that top hat firmly in place, the gavel in hand and stand ready to govern the lodge during your Masonic year. 365 days, 8760 hours and 585,600 minutes are available for your use. Your committees are in place, the program is set and the officers and members stand ready to assist in building the lodge. The question remains, “How can I possibly accomplish all that needs to be done in the short time frame of one year?” Time, your most valuable resource, can either be squandered, without hope of recovery, or efficiently managed and put to effective use.

Absent the time required to accomplish mandated Masonic tasks, i.e., stated meeting, degrees, funerals, etc., you have full control of your time. You must realize that each hour wasted is one less hour you have to accomplish your goals. Each hour effectively utilized is one further step towards improving your Lodge. The choice is yours. How will you manage your most valuable resource?

A. Be Master of Your Own Schedule

You must first realize that it is your time you are spending and you can be either its boss, or you can allow it to boss you. Your year can be either a rewarding experience, or it can become an exhausting ordeal. The difference is in the manner in which you manage your time. The following are some helpful hints that will assist you in changing your time use habits and achieving your goals for the year.

B. Time Savers

Each of us have valuable commitments to our family and employer that must be satisfied prior to scheduling time for the Lodge. To take full advantage of every hour, it is mandatory that you evaluate your work habits and eliminate those activities which are unproductive and waste your valuable time. Eliminate time wasters and utilize the following to increase your productivity.

  • 1. Schedule a portion of each day strictly to conduct the business of the Lodge. That scheduled hour will accomplish more than many hours grabbed at random.
  • 2. Station yourself in a quiet place and do not take any telephone calls, receive visitors or allow yourself to be otherwise interrupted. Ask mother to keep the kids quiet, answer the telephone and take messages. Protect your time.
  • 3. Inform your officers and members of your schedule so that they will not be annoyed when told that you are now busy and will get to them at another time. Additionally, they will cooperate in reducing the potential for interruptions during your work period.
  • 4. Schedule yourself the previous day by writing down important tasks, in order of priority, on a THINGS TO DO TODAY pad that can be purchased at any stationery store. During your scheduled time, begin on #1 and stay with it until you are completed. Recheck your priorities and then begin on #2. Make this your habit every working day and you will find that things get done and you will still have extra time for other important tasks.
  • 5. All your telephone calls should be short, to the point and strictly business. Use other time to socialize on the telephone. Your schedule dictates only work for this period.
  • 6. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Those who procrastinate habitually become interruption prone. Take a difficult task, set priorities, time limits and focus on the problem until it is resolved.
  • 7. Don’t be a perfectionist: If you wait until you are absolutely sure of everything you will never get anything done.
  • 8. Learn to say no. You cannot accomplish everything for everybody. Many activities are in the “nice to do, but not essential” category. Do not spend time on efforts that are not included in your goals. It is much easier to just say NO than to waste time on unproductive endeavors.
  • 9. BE decisive! Delaying a decision or talking an issue to death will not result in a solution. Face up to a problem, make your decision and move on to another issue. Don’t waste time because of a reluctance to take on a decision.
  • 10. An “I’ll ‘do it myself’ attitude will result in you spending your time on nonessential tasks that can be done perfectly well by others. Decide what is important for you to accomplish and what should be delegated to others. As Master, don’t waste time on minor matters. There will not be enough left for what is important.
  • 11. Make appointments and keep them. Don’t allow unscheduled meetings to occur at times when you should be socializing with the brethren. Those times are for relaxation and fellowship, not business. If cornered, simply acknowledge that the Brother has an important concern and schedule a time to get together for either a meeting or simply a telephone call. This will make him feel important, and you have not wasted time that should be devoted to others.
  • 12. Constantly evaluate your use of time. Most time management experts strongly recommend that you keep a simple log of your activities so that you can evaluate exactly how your time is being utilized and then make the necessary adjustments to increase productivity. Your present habits must give way to your new responsibilities otherwise you will never find quality time to properly complete your required tasks.

Our ritual eloquently speaks of the importance of managing time. “Whereby we find eight hours for service to GOD and a distressed worthy Brother, eight hours for our usual vocations and eight hours for refreshment and rest”. This is instruction given to your newest candidate. You should also follow that example by allocating your time for the benefit of your Lodge and your brethren. You can make your job exceedingly difficult and time consuming or you can make it seem like “a piece of cake”. The difference between the two is in the manner in which you manage your time.

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