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Morgenstern’s Time Management from the Inside Out (2004) provides a very unique approach to time management. It focuses on streamlining routines tasks by allocating time efficiently among several different activities performed during the day based on priorities and targets. The book has implications for families as well as managers and supervisors of a workforce that comprises of working parents, whose work performance otherwise gets affected because of household demands. The paper explores the time management strategies pointed out in the book coupled with its implications for families as well as managers and supervisors. The skills required for resolving work/family conflicts and the workplace policies and practices that can help working parents are also discussed in the light of the text of the book as well as of information obtained from other texts.
Explanation of the Strategies
Morgenstern (2004) places emphasis on planning ahead and managing tasks according to targets planned. She stresses on the importance of every routine targets and how inefficient time allocation in routine activities can increase the overall time spent on them and result in ineffective performance. The book describes a unique approach to time management, whereby the importance of routine and tactical tasks is identified and is discussed how streamlining the short term, routine tasks can allow time efficiency to be acquired. The book provides the time management approach that is required at an individual and tactical level, which offers implications for individual employees, managers, supervisors and working parents.
The time management strategies offered by the book call for planning ahead in advance for each and every minor activity, identifying those that are least and most important and allocating time for them accordingly. The activities with minimum importance in relation to the targets that need to be acquired have to be deprived from all considerations in time allocation. Only the required and final target value adding activities need to be allocated sufficient time (Morgenstern, 2004). Individuals need to remove activities that slow them down and reduce the amount of time spent in between activities.
The strategies also emphasize on the simplification of the processes of working that remove the elements of frustration, confusion, complexity and stress of performing the tasks (Morgenstern, 2004). Simplification comes from taking on an assembly line approach as well as an efficient flow of performance approach towards designing the activities and how they are to be performed. The focus has been on efficiency in performance.
Other key elements are the proper design and communication of rules and principles and the clarification of the system once the plans have been made. This is relevant to the successful and effective execution of all strategies. This is just as relevant in a household as it is in the workplace. If more than one person is concerned with an activity then individual’s efforts would not result in the overall success of the activity. The entire team or group of concerned people needs to be able to align their performance to the targets at hand.
Implications for Family
The key issue that is faced by working people today is to balance work and life. Working parents mainly face the biggest challenge to make sure that their work targets are achieved as well as their household targets. There are every day routine tasks as well as long term tasks to be taken care of, while important issues at work are also at place to be given attention to at the same time. The time management strategies that have been broken down to routine level tasks offer immense implications for managing family life (Morgenstern, 2004). Families with children and working parents can effectively utilize Morgenstern’s time management strategies to reduce the time wasted in between tasks and produce maximum efficiency in each activity performed. The most prior element in managing household activities is to have important and relevant activities and tasks identified and allocated sufficient time before attention is given to lesser important activities and duties. The strategy calls for removing all those activities that are not necessary for efficient performance of household activities and include only those that make sure that all issues in the household are addressed to by the working parent or a family member. On an average, there are several extra duties that a family member performs that otherwise consume an ample amount of time. If attention is invested to identity such time-consuming and efficiency reducing activities, then overall time spent in household activities can be reduced and maximum productivity not only from the household but also from the workplace of the working parents can be achieved.
Female working parents mostly spend a considerable amount of time thinking what to cook on their way to home each day, depending upon what they have in store in their pantries. The “plan ahead” time management strategy offers the advice to such females that they need to plan at least two to three weeks prior about the meals they are to cook and how they are to shop, cook, and serve them and the times of serving. This simplifies the process of going for grocery shopping. Knowing what they are cooking several weeks in advance, they can visit grocery stores and shop on time for all meals they are to prepare and not have to leave home to pick up groceries they require. This saves time and offers the benefit of ‘bulk’ buying. It is also useful to prepare a monthly plan of meals and groceries and a master shopping list that includes names of items that they require for the entire household along with the quantities required of each item.
People with jobs that require them to travel often need to have a spare and pre-packed bag of toiletries that includes all relevant items, so that they do not have to rush to find the necessary items when they are to travel at an urgent notice. This reduces the eleventh hour stress and makes the activity free of frustration and smooth in transition.
Another implication is in the form of designing the activities to perform. Ironing is one such activity that is performed almost every day by the working people. It is important to have a proper place assigned for ironed clothing. Weekly clothes can be decided, put together, ironed and hanged. As an assembly design process, where clothes are ironed and hanged in the form of batches, it could allow the individual to reduce the every day time spent on ironing by a considerable amount as well as reduce the stress that this activity could otherwise add each day and reduce the efficiency. Each family members needs to be aware of the system and how necessary it is for the clothes to be free from wrinkles while they are hanged. Another useful idea is to pay the bills via the online system and all at once at a given time rather than pay for each service separately (Morgenstern, 2004).
The principles for each activity need to be defined and well communicated. The family has to act like a team, where each individual is to be defined a role which is to be followed and principles that need to be respected.
Implications for Supervisors in a Workplace
A family needs to function as a team in order for effective time management strategies to take place in a household. Mothers are usually the supervisors in a family who look after things and are mainly involved in planning, organizing, leading, monitoring and controlling. In the workplace, supervisors and managers are responsible for their assigned subordinates and teams in the same fashion. But the consequences of the performance or the teams and subordinates have to be borne by the entire organization, not just the team itself. Thus, the importance of having streamlined routine tasks under the targets needed to be acquired is highly essential. Supervisors can assess individual activities and design and implement process designs for performance that allow each individual to perform effectively the tasks with minimum frustration, which is very important for effective performance outcomes (Morgenstern, 2004).
Skills Required to Address Work/Family Conflicts
Working people need to have a team working approach towards handling problems and also, an open systems or integrated approach towards designing process and resolving conflicts. They need to have contingency management techniques in place to expect the worst and to expect fewer highly favorable and chance outcomes. A one-sided approach is not useful for working parents in managing and addressing work/family conflicts (Morgenstern, 2004).
Workplace Policies and Practices to Help Working Parents
Organizations commonly provide working parents with flexible working hours, flex-times, day care facilities, childcare facilities, insurance benefits for children, children’s education provisions, as well as leniency in regularity requirements in the form of paternal and maternal leaves (Morgenstern, 2004).
The book offers implications for managers, supervisors as well as working parents. The book addresses the issues that working parents have to face in maintaining work and life balance and juggling between work-associated duties and at the same time to take care of requirements in their households. It attempts to resolve the everyday conflicts and to allow the working parents to meet the routine targets by streamlining activities.