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Time Management along the space/time continuum

Space-time includes the three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time into a continuum. Time cannot be separated from the three dimensions of space as the observed rate at which time passes depends on an object's velocity relative to the observer.

This becomes relevant when professions bill by the hour. Although cases can progress as if time moves backwards, time advances in .1 increments. Nowhere is time more important than when something appears to be going wrong.

I took my daughter out to dinner and used her vehicle as we headed off to one of those trendy but innocuous places with good parking. I am startled to hear a subtle but nasty grinding sound from under the hood. I cast a doubtful glance towards her, grind my teeth for a moment and head to the restaurant. I don’t bring up the car issue.

Back home, I keep the engine running to have a look. The engine components are jammed in there pretty tight, but I can see one component merrily grinding away. I did some technical research using YouTube videos.

The next night I gently ask how long the grinding has been going on. Awhile? She innocently asks how long is awhile? I suddenly realize how relative the length of time can be. Awhile could be how many seconds has the car been on fire? Awhile could be how many months has that crystalline piece of meat been in the freezer? But in this motor grinding instance, awhile would refer to a week. So she said that it has been a couple of awhiles.

The dealership said that the grinding came from the worn water pump. After dropping the engine out, they had no problem in replacing the pump.

Getting back to time management, associations come up with suggestions to maximize time available for billing such as the following:

Go paperless!

One suggestion involved the “paperless office”. Back in the early 2000s, my company did not have any particular process, but I thought I might try. Normally, I would get a letter, request a new manila file and draft a letter back the author. Internal communications in the company had been electronic since the 80s.

One clear-minded day with foggy intentions, I took a letter and scanned it. Beside the scanner stood the commercial shredder box. I looked at the little slit in the top in the locked box. I hesitated for a moment, but I slipped the letter into the slot. I didn’t feel that I joined any new demographic, but I did feel regret. Perhaps I should have checked to see if the scanned letter got to my computer.

I pepped stepped back to my office. The email system sent things instantaneously and since the scanner was just down the hall, I believed that this would make it quicker. And of course the scanned email did not appear. I wondered who wrote the letter. Perhaps in two or three weeks whoever wrote it might write back, a bit miffed perhaps, but you never know.

Fortunately, the scan came in a minute later. The scanner can take a letter in and spit it out quickly enough, but to compile it takes a bit more time. After an initial fright, I have been merrily scanning and shredding letters for a decade and a half. I occasionally unleash my creativity a bit in the “save as” line using some particularly salient key words if the writer is particularly jerk-like.

Holding your email

Another time-saver uses the OC email delay system. OC stands for my “Oh Crap” I forgot to include the attachment. Often I craft a letter, review it, and press send only to realize my mistake instantly. Pressing send somehow galvanizes my mind to realize that I forgot to include the attachment. People politely email back and use some funny time-worn reply, but the implication always remains “send attachment. Dolt.”

Time management suggests attaching the damn attachment first, then doing your email. But like most lawyers, we don’t like being told what to do so I have always resisted. I attach the attachment when I damn well ready to. On my follow-up apology email. 

I now let my email sit in my outbox for one minute before automatically sending. I reach in there several times a week to pull something out. Once I deleted an entire negative reply when that sweet little voice in the back of mind told that me that this was a bad frigging idea.

To do lists

I rarely create a prioritized to-do list, but I do create an AMR list. I drag and drop the inane email requests into the “aw man, really?” tasks list. I do a little mental dance for joy if some AMR issue has already resolved itself and I can tick it off. Rarely do I add some matter so that I can then just tick it off electronically since this only seems to work on paper.

Only check your email three times a day

I manage to do this. Unfortunately, the three times means morning, afternoon and evening. I have it up constantly and I get a bit of dopamine joy whenever it dings. Someone needs my assistance! I like the quickly answered short snappers.

Vacation notification replies let people know that I really am on vacation. I like the vacation replies that other people use to confirm that they may not have continual access to email. Cell coverage is almost ubiquitous and a lot of these people do not strike me as the backpacking in the wilderness type.

The day that I get back from my own “wilderness” vacation I appreciate the people that resend the same email on the day that I get back to the office. This ensures that I would see their email at the top of my inbox. I always get back to them first with the additional compliment of “well played.”