Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Time Management Tuesday: Don't Be Flexible, Adapt

I have mentioned before that I am not fond of flexibility, as applied to behavior rather than joints. Whatever I have achieved in life, I've achieved because of a bit of obsessiveness that has helped me to sometimes function as if I'm wearing blinders. I will stay working with a manuscript, not necessarily efficiently, but there in front of the computer screen. I will stick to working out. Again, in a random, inefficient way, but I put in the time. I attended taekwondo classes for years without fail, not even considering doing something else. When my children were signed up for two weeks of swimming lessons each summer, we were at the lake at the scheduled time even if it was raining. We did not travel on weekends they had Sunday school. No decisions had to be made. They went to Sunday school. The elder family members needed attention, so for two years I assigned myself days when I was supposed to be with one or the other of them, and I went.

We are talking inflexibility here, without a doubt. Inflexibility has helped me a great deal in life. Inflexibility is my friend.

In my experience, when people are urged to be flexible it's usually because someone wants them to go off task. "Be flexible. Take a day off and go _____________." "You don't have to do _____________."

But what I've found--not just in myself, but in others around me--is that flexibility leads to lack of order and a breakdown of the plan. The word flexible has bad connotations for me, and I'm very sensitive to connotations.

Thus when I've been thinking about Situational Time Management and the need to change how we manage time depending on what life situations we find ourselves in, the stumbling block for me has been how flexibility figures into the model. Because I don't believe flexibility works. For the past couple of months I've been thinking about dexterity in relation to managing time. It has a meaning related to being mentally quick. But this weekend a family member objected because it also has a meaning relating to fine motor skills. Plus one of the forms of the word, "dexterous," doesn't roll smoothly off the tongue.

"Adapt" came up in our weekend discussion. Adapt is a great word for what I'm getting at with Situational Time Management. With Situational Time Management we're adapting our management of time to fit a new situation. That's pretty much the meaning of "adapt"--to make suitable to a specific situation.

Of course, we will talk about adaptation more on future Tuesdays.

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