My days at work have some level of structure. My mornings are quieter than my afternoons. I have lots of phone calls in the afternoon – more people I work with every day are located in the US. My evenings are quieter than my afternoons…I have very few phone calls (apart from to my family)…but many more emails.
I have to be quite disciplined with my time in the afternoons. My calls can start at midday and go all the way through to 6:00pm. Staying on time is important…especially for the colleagues whose calls are due to start at 4:00 or 5:00pm. But there are other challenges…coffee refills and rest rooms visits being two that come to mind. I can get some help with one of these….but the other is down to me!
My peak time of work activity seems to be between 1:00 and 3:00pm. I am always on calls or in teleconferences at this time. But this is also the period when my US based colleagues get to work and start to catch up with their emails. The time when they get to read emails I inevitably will have sent them during the morning. The time when they send messages, offer opinions, ask for clarification or just tell me what to do (in the nicest possible way). It can feel as if my email traffic goes up tenfold in that time window…a time when I am already on phone calls.
I often stand up and walk around to take my calls in that post lunch period. If I am at my desk it can be hard to avoid checking emails as they arrive…and reading emails whilst talking on a phone is a degree too much of multi-tasking for me. Walking around the room allows me to concentrate on my call…but it also means that when I sit down those emails have piled up.
Although my ‘walk about’ tactic works for my calls, in effect it simply adds to that feeling of being very busy. In those precious few minutes I have between calls in the early afternoon, I also have to scan my emails to make sure there is nothing ‘drop dead’ urgent that requires me to assign time to read, consider and respond.
And last but not least, there is the benefit (or burden) that is instant messaging. Colleagues will often reach out to chat by messaging…it is simpler than an email and is more likely to be responded to than a phone call…
I thought a great deal about this early afternoon peak time in my day this last week. I have been on vacation with my family. Just fantastic family time. Wonderful times with friends. And when I thought about my days, I wondered if I have been deliberately (or subconsciously) targeting that early afternoon time slot. Making it a time to have fun. To contrast. To savour.
I played tennis with my son (and lost). Went for a walk with my wife (and held hands). Took my daughter shopping (and admired). Sat in the shade (and solved a crossword puzzle). Rested after a lunch with friends (and snoozed).
And how I enjoyed these times of the day. I enjoyed them for what they were. Simple. Enjoyment. Fulfilling. Happiness. And I enjoyed them because they were so different from my days at work.
My days at work are important. I enjoy and value what I do and who I work with. My days and my time with my family are special. My family are special. I could not do what I do without them. I only do what I do for them.