Have You Trained Your Understudy?

Many of us are content to do everything ourselves. In fact, we often ensure that we do everything ourselves by not telling anyone else how we do things. But what happens when we need other people to help us out? Think of those people as your understudies.

As I was watching Wicked for the first time on Friday night (because I don’t catch on to things until years after they are popular) I flipped open the program to see if any of the leading roles were being played by understudies that night. After all, I had paid a lot for these tickets and I was going to be bummed if I didn’t get to hear the “real deal.”

Then it occurred to me, we all have “understudies” in life, whether we plan to or not. No matter how hard we try, there will be a time where we simply can’t do everything. Either we’ll get sick, an emergency will come up or we will have just over-committed ourselves. The better we get at letting people help us, the easier it is when these situations arise. After all, the “show” must go on, and you don’t want the “ticket holders” in your life to be left hanging.

“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
How many times have you used that phrase as an excuse to not let others help you? It’s easy to point to other people’s failures as a reason to not delegate, but did you really set that person up for success?

Consider what would happen if the understudy for a major Broadway musical was given no script, no choreography and no direction. He was simply left to figure it out. No one would be a bit surprised when the performance crashed and burned would they? Make sure you don’t do the same thing with your understudies.

1. Take time for training
While it seems like taking the time to thoroughly train someone on a task takes far too long, it actually saves time in the long run. Give the person the right tools to succeed and you won’t have to waste time redoing it later.

2. Consider the person
Make sure the person you are asking for help has the skill set necessary to complete the task. You won’t ask a soprano to be the understudy for a tenor.

3. Assess
Make opportunities to assess the work others help you with. If something goes wrong, don’t simply take the task away. Help fix it. This will allow the person to learn rather than fail.

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Photo Credit: Phanlop88

Time Management for College Student Survival

Below is an excerpt from my new book, “The Time Diet Time Management for College Survival.” This section deals with one of the common pitfalls of college: procrastination. Don’t let poor time management skills affect your favorite college student. Pick up your copy today on Amazon.com for only $11.99!

Procrastination: The Enemy of Time Management

“Sometimes we procrastinate because we can’t find the time to get everything done. However, there are other times we procrastinate because we just really really don’t want to do our homework. We know we should work, but work isn’t fun and watching college sports and reality T.V. is. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Even the best students feel like this sometimes. Here are some ways to motivate yourself to do homework you just don’t want to do.

Break a large project into smaller pieces

The best way to combat laziness is to break up a Meat task into smaller pieces and tackle them one piece at a time. For example, if you have a research paper to write, you may not want to start it because it seems like such an immense task that you don’t have the energy to tackle. Watching TV, going to the gym or getting a root canal all sound more appealing than starting something so overwhelming.

Instead, break the large project into smaller chunks that are more manageable. Instead of saying “I’m going to start my research paper today” say, “I am going to start my research paper today by compiling a bibliography of library sources.” Setting smaller daily goals makes a large project feel more approachable.

Promise yourself a reward

We can all agree, there are a ton of things in life that are more fun than doing hard work! Instead of having the mindset that your work is preventing you from doing something fun, just re-frame your thinking. You are still going to both have fun and get work done today, but you are just going to switch the order around a little bit. When you finish compiling your bibliography for your research paper, then you are going to reward yourself with a 10-minute chill-out session with your iPod, or run over to the Student Center for a smoothie.

Be creative with your rewards. Rewarding yourself with a lengthy break or Dessert task every time you finish a difficult chunk of work is not always practical. Instead, be creative with your rewards, particularly if you are trying to save money and a java mocha chiller just isn’t in the budget every time you need a pat on the back.

A reward can be as simple as stepping outside for some fresh air, eating a few jellybeans from your drawer stash, or texting with a friend. Finally, remember that putting off your homework won’t make it go away even though you really wish it would!

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Graduation is coming up. Instead of presents that will clutter a dorm room, why not get some time management advice that will help students succeed? They will thank you later. Click here to buy on Amazon: The Time Diet Time Management for College Survival

Time Management is Like a Box of Chocolates?

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, no doubt many of you will be receiving a box of chocolates. This holiday always reminds me of one of my favorite cliché movie lines (which I am only actually quoting here because some of my readers were still in diapers when Forrest Gump was released).
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Here is how that applies to time management.

Always put your all into tasks because you never know where they are going to lead.

Opportunities have a way of presenting themselves in unusual ways and you never know where different tasks and experiences will lead you. That’s why, before you dismiss a task as a frivolous waste of time, look deeper. Sometimes the potential is sitting just beneath the surface.

From Hobby to Opportunity

For example, a few years ago, I wrote my husband a song for Valentine’s Day (yes, that’s cheesy and no, you can’t hear it!) I knew next to nothing about recording music, but I wanted this to sound good, so I learned everything I could about the music software Garage Band. At the time, I remember thinking this project was consuming far more of my day than necessary, but it was interesting and fun.

After I finished that project, I realized what a great teaching tool Garage Band could be and started to use it in my classroom…

…which led to me giving several presentations about music technology at our state conference…

…which led to me helping my school district design and implement a music technology class…

…which led to me being asked to teach a Garage Band class at Arizona State University.

I could have never imagined this little project several years ago could have lead to so many cool things, but it did!

If something is interesting and fun for you, make the time to pursue it. By the same token, if something you have to do appears boring and wasteful at first, how can you use the knowledge you’re gaining to do something more beneficial?

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Photo Credit: Simon Howden

Time Management Karma

No doubt you heard about the “golden rule” while growing up: treat others as you would like to be treated. MaybImagee you didn’t realize that it also applies to time management.

Treat other people’s time as you want your time to be treated.

I’m not saying you should always put the needs of others before your own, but it is all too easy to always put them last, and that just isn’t fair.

For example, have you ever been working on a project and had to stop because you needed one little piece of information from someone else? You send out an email or make a phone call and leave a message. Then you wait…and wait…and wait. You know that an answer will take about 30 seconds of that person’s time, but waiting for that 30-second answer is putting you days behind on your work.

Or what about this: Have you ever planned your day around meeting a friend or a colleague, only to have them cancel at the last minute for something they surely new about ahead of time?

These are examples of other people interfering with our carefully managed time. It’s easy to get angry, impatient and frustrated but sometimes we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Am I treating other people’s time the way I want mine to be treated?”

Mistakes happen, people get busy, emails get buried and appointments get double booked.  The key is to apologize and then don’t make it a habit. People want the importance of their time to be acknowledged. Think twice before you make a last-minute cancellation or move your colleague’s email request into the “do it later” pile.

If you respect other people’s time, you may find that yours is respected as well.

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