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Coping with the challenges of time

December 30, 2014

Most business people struggle with priorities and the challenge of conflicting demands on time. Most of us probably find such tensions stressful and wonder whether we can ever find the right balance.

IACCM research shows that this problem is becoming more severe for many in the world of contract management and negotiation. While resources have in general shown only marginal growth (and in some cases have shrunk), workload continues to increase. Several factors underlie this. Contracts are becoming more complex; they continue to grow in size; the frequency of change and renegotiation is increasing; the volume of claims and disputes has risen.

So while practitioners continue to enjoy the diversity and challenge of their work, a growing number express concerns over workload and management expectations for speed. They would therefore relate to a brief article in yesterday’s Financial Times, highlighting an academic paper shortly to be published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

The study revealed the more conflicting we perceive our goals to be, the less time we feel we have to achieve them – resulting in worry, stress, the possibility that we cut corners and that productivity suffers. The remedy, according to the researchers, is to train ourselves to reframe these conflicting demands as a source of excitement. Presumably that means we think in terms of positive challenges and goals, that we realize ‘being in demand’ is a good thing and reflects our value. Apparently, those who succeed in reframing this way also perceive time in a different way – rather than fretting about too little time, they see it as having expanded.

So far, I have only been able to test this theory on one person. She did not seem impressed and told me in no uncertain terms that she regularly feels guilty about the amount of time she is able to spend rotating between her work and her family. The idea of being excited by the demands on her time did not appear to resonate. I’m hoping a bigger audience may provide some counter-views!

One Comment
  1. I received the following observations from one reader:

    – This is a relay race, not a marathon, so always know who you can hand off to, by mentoring or coaching and collaborating with your relay partner regularly – the style dependent on that partner’s preferred method of learning (you will appreciate this comes from my military background)
    – Worry about yourself and your family first, or you will “hit the wall” that you do not see coming and be of no use to yourself, your employer and your family. It is a sign of professional courage and professional maturity to tell people when you need help, nothing less
    – Your professional network is your main line of protection from burnout, it should be carefully crafted to get help regarding complex challenges when you need it
    – Your training (and in time, your “gut”) will tell you when you are working too fast or over too many hours. This is a warning sign to be heeded. Each professional member of a team is likely to be the ONLY person understanding their piece of the collective product and they are relied upon for this. So errors missed are quite probably going to become obvious only at implementation and could be devastating. This argues for not allowing yourself to become overworked at the office
    – And finally, I emphasize that people get things done, not bosses or organizations. So they all have my permission as the workload climbs to “do everything slower”, based on a clearly prioritized task list which is owed to them by their seniors – and they can and should insist upon that

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