Communication; General Management Practice

where does The TIme Go?

Primary Topic—Time Management and Personal Effectiveness

Additional Topics—Communication; General Management Practice

Kay Thatcher, director of staff education, decided she had to get organized once and for all. Recently her work days had been running well beyond quitting time, cutting noticeably into the time required by her family responsibilities, but instead of going down, her backlog of work was growing.

Inspired by an article she read about planning and setting priorities, Kay decided to try planning each day’s activities at the end of the preceding day. This past Mon- day Kay came to the office with her day planned out to the last minute. During the morning she had to complete a report on a recent learning needs analysis, write the performance appraisals of two part-time instructors, and assemble the balance of the materials for a 2-hour class she was scheduled to conduct that afternoon. After lunch she had to conduct the class, complete a schedule of the next 3 months’ train- ing activities (now 10 days overdue), and prepare notices—which should have been posted this very day—for two upcoming classes.

Kay got off to a good start; she finished the report before 10:00 am and turned her attention to the performance evaluations. However, at that time the interruptions began. In the next 2 hours she was interrupted six times—there were three telephone calls and three visitors. The calls were all business calls. Two of the visitors had legitimate prob- lems, one of them taking perhaps 30 minutes to resolve. The other visitor was a fellow manager simply passing the time of day. Neither performance appraisal was com- pleted, and the training materials were assembled in time for the class only because Kay threw them together during lunch while juggling a sandwich at her desk.

Kay’s afternoon class ran 20 minutes overtime because of legitimate discus- sion and questions. When she returned to her office she discovered she had a visitor, a good-humored, talkative sales representative from whom Kay sometimes bought materials, who “happened to be in the area and just dropped in.” The sales representa- tive stayed for more than an hour and a half.

Once again alone, Kay spent several minutes simply wondering what to do next. The performance appraisals, the 3-month schedule, the class notices—all were overdue. Deciding on the class notices because they were the briefest task facing her, she dashed off both notices in longhand and asked the nursing department secretary

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to type them, run them off, and post them immediately. Then she set about to tackle the training schedule.

When Kay next looked up from her work it was nearly an hour past quitting time. She still had a long way to go on the schedule and had not yet started the two performance appraisals. As she swept her work aside for the day she sadly reflected that she had not accomplished two thirds of what she intended to accomplish that day in spite of all her planning. She decided, however, to try again; when she could get a few minutes of quiet time late in the evening, she would plan out her next day’s activities.

On her way out of the hospital she paused at the main bulletin board to assure herself that the class notices had been posted. The small satisfaction she felt when she saw the notices vanished instantly when she discovered that both were incorrect—the dates and time of the two classes had been interchanged.


1. What errors did Kay commit in her approach to planning and the establish- ment of priorities?

2. In what respects could Kay have improved her use of time on the Monday described in the case?

Case 40: Where Does the Time Go?      95

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