Time tactics

There are several keys to being successful – talent, skill, knowledge, etc. But, as the saying goes, time is of the essence.

I’m not rehashing my earlier blog on good timing here, but rather talking about time itself and how you use it. When it comes to time management, I have to confess that I’m not particularly good at it. OK, I’m terrible at it. The only reason I’m successful at all is that the two careers I’ve had accommodate my time-challenged nature.

In my first career of broadcasting, the timing was entirely out of my hands. In my music days if I played “Piano Man,” I knew that Billy Joel would take care of the next three minutes and five seconds (top-40 edit version) or five minutes and 36 seconds (album version). Those times were set in concrete, and I was locked in – no thinking or management necessary. During my news/talk days, interviews, newscasts, taped segments and every other aspect of what I did on the air for four or five hours was an absolute. All I had to do was hang on and ride the clock. If I had to, say, join the network live at 10:25 and it was 10:22:37, I had to talk – preferably in complete, understandable sentences – for exactly two minutes and 23 seconds. I always found that remarkably easy, since the actual timing was already done for me.

When I switched over to writing about woodworking I had just the opposite arrangement. There are deadlines, sure, but how I navigate toward them is entirely up to me. Fortunately, I can write very fast when motivated, so my normal time-management method (waiting till the last day) works fine. Usually.

But the shop doesn’t go that way. Oh, you can “take your time” all you want on a project – which I do because the process itself is so pleasant – but there’s nothing you can do to go faster. Slow work in the shop equals good work and enjoyable work, I’ve found. Fast work in the shop equals bad work and bad mistakes. And sometimes Band-Aids. Lots and lots of Band-Aids.

I consider much of my woodworking to be of professional caliber, but I could never be a professional woodworker. The constraints of productive and profitable time management would kill me.

A.J.

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