Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Time Management and Priorities

In 1976 or so in my early days with The Social Security Administration in Chicago I heard a story about the Detroit Downtown Social Security Office. In those days urban social security offices were swamped with claimants due to the problems with the Supplemental Security Income program which began in 1974. It had been normal in our office for claimants to wait 2-3 hours for service and there was no internet or other alternatives for service (before we began our telephone service).

The manager of the Detroit Downtwon Social Security Office was asked why he didn't have a section of his office taking claims over the telephone to ease the pressures on his staff. His response was: "I have 25 claims representatives taking claims all day long. How could I spare staff to take claims over the telephone?"

Taking claims over the telephone was more efficient than in the office. It also was a way to skim part of the workload (in a sense prioratizing it) so that those filing for retirement, disability and survivor benefits could not waste a lot of time just waiting.

Obviously, the manager was taking a short-sighted view of the problem that he faced. His claimants had no choice. They had to come into his office. He couldn't control the number of people who needed service. He could control how they were served.

Much of life is similar to the story above. We face time pressures day-in and day-out in our lives. We make choices, but often not good choices, as to how we live our lives. We see only the surface of our issues - and feel trapped.

When we're in "crisis moments" we may have few options. Much of the time though, it is our normal lives, seemingly out of control. When life is more leisurely, we have no need to organize things efficiently and prioratize, so we often are inefficient. Then things revert to long-term "craziness" and we're stuck.

Much in our lives doesn't need to be so complicated. We make choices as to what is important and often choose to take on too much in our lives. Even when we face such situations in our lives we do have far more choices than we see.


1 comment:

Amanda said...

Awesome post. Great insights.