Going in early, working late. Stopping into the office on weekends. Bringing work home. Cell phones and BlackBerrys. As much as ever, work seems to consume us, follow us around, intrude into every waking hour. Communication breakthroughs may carry an element of convenience; however, these new devices make sure that we're always "available," 24/7, to work.
On top of all that, we're in the midst of an economy in which job security has very nearly disappeared. How, then, does a hard-working fleet manager balance the demands of the job with the responsibilities of family and personal life? It isn't easy, but it can be done.
Someone once wrote, regarding controlling weight and dieting, that we all eat more than we think we do. He suggested as a first step in trying to lose a few pounds, we literally write down everything that passes our lips, every day, for a few weeks. The little things we eat between meals tend to go unnoticed when we complain, "I only eat salad for lunch, and I can't lose a pound."
The same general concept can help determine if any time is wasted during a normal 40-hour week. Sit down and account for every minute of every working day, and be honest. Think of this: a mere 10 minutes wasted (beyond any scheduled break time) each working day totals three hours and 20 minutes each month. Ten minutes - a minute here and there staring off into space, checking personal e-mail, wandering to the office or cubicle next door to chat, heading to the break room for another cup of coffee. There is certainly nothing wrong with taking a break or two in the midst of a working day. But wasted time can add up quickly and encroach on valuable personal time.
The point is, a manager must make certain each working day is full. Beyond a scheduled break or two, managing working time well can help create more time at home with family. Being honest, a manager may well find he or she is not really working quite as hard during the work week as believed.
Passing responsibility along to subordinates is difficult enough to do, even more so in an uncertain economy when job security is nearly nonexistent. Fleet managers may worry if staff is given more responsibility, management will question why the fleet manager is needed at all.
However, not only is delegation the hallmark of a good manager, it also can go a long way toward helping keep the workload manageable and thus create more time away from the job. Administrative and even clerical tasks that take away attention and energy from more important management responsibilities can be delegated down the line. The result is simple and effective: if a manager can hand off tasks others can do, the early, late, and weekend work hours to stay ahead are no longer necessary.