Weekends

Here’s an old-school management tip: “Don’t work on weekends. If you have to complete your chores, work longer hours during the week.”

I’m not trying to sell that tip, by the way. I’m just saying that it’s been around a long time. How long? Before we had email. Yes, that long.

Like much old-school wisdom, the mere act of thinking about it can be useful, even if you don’t buy into the idea itself. So we can kick the tires from a lifestyle standpoint on this weekend thing. After all, not even paradise guarantees escape from office work.

Most managers understand that big projects or occasional situations can, and will, gobble up their weekends. Furthermore, people who run professional practices are often used to working on weekends, but that’s a different context than the basic 9-to-5 M-F office routine that’s the context here.

As for the 9-to-5 grind, I think the tip can inspire us to tighten up the work flow.

For example, in my corporate days, I used to put off annoying tasks. I allowed them to accumulate while telling myself I’d clear the logjam on some magic Saturday morning.

As a result, I spent many Saturday mornings in the office, cleaning up administrative chores that really should have been done over the week.

Did I mind? No.

Was this the right approach? Well, no again.

Looking back on those mornings, I think they were a way to kick the can down the road instead of either shedding tasks, or hiring more help, to improve things.

Of course, some people just want to hang out at the office anyway. I remember when color printers were just hitting the corporate scene. One guy in our company spent two entire weekends reformatting an internal report so that a bunch of useless graphs could be showcased in colorful glory. Oh, joy.

My pals and I eventually cooked up the occasional midweek event to clear away the boring administrative chores that were always accumulating: we’d commit to the occasional late-night pizza party in the office. This was pretty much like studying for midterms in a college dorm. The comradeship of shared tedium made things a lot easier to endure.

True, this wasn’t the perfect approach, but it was a lot better than counting on magic Saturday mornings.

The bigger issue here is one of basic time management. This is a two-edged sword. Looking back on the zigs and zags of work, I have to admit that when things went well, it was largely due to good time management. And when things weren’t going so well, I think it was due to less-than-good time management.

Well, so far, so simple, but here’s my theory: Things seem to work on a 10-year delay. So our situations today are largely a function of how we were using our time a decade ago. That’s either encouraging or discouraging. Take your pick.

One grand promise of modern technology is that it allows managers to be more efficient with their time. Well, I wouldn’t argue with that, but I might ask if anyone has weighed a counterbalancing factor, namely, that when technology went from being a mere tool to being an entire lifestyle, many old-school notions of time management flew out the window. Is modern technology a time saver, or a time sucker? If we tallied the score, I think we’d have a lot of marks in both columns.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s Friday, so I have to get ready for the weekend. If you need to find me on Saturday or Sunday, it will be easy:

I’ll be at my desk.

Ed Stephens Jr. | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Visit Ed Stephens Jr. at EdStephensJr.com. His column runs every Friday.

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