Learning to better manage your time can help you:
• Track the tasks that lead to your goals and satisfy of the guests
• Produce quality work
• Meet deadlines
• Have excellent professional reputations
• Have a better work-life balance
• Experience less stress
Two extreme types of working hours with regard to time management – rare
According to the criteria of personal time control, there are two extremes, black-and-white situations, A and B, with many combinations in between:
Case A – Time completely controlled by the person: it is the time in which a person determines by himself what to do and in which order during the day and the week, makes his own plan, manages to keep the desired direction, without any disturbances while he is doing what he started. This is a rare situation. These are the so-called 100 % peaceful working places without any stress.
Case B – Time completely controlled by the surroundings: it is the time in which someone else from the surroundings, and when it comes to skippers these are primarily the guests, then the marina staff, the authorities, the charter company, people on other yachts, who constantly activate, demand, encourage, determine, call, ask, interrupt and direct the skipper’s actions. The person is 100 % at their disposal and has no free time. In such surroundings, the skipper may expect a new message at any moment, a demand that changes the priorities, an order that stops his work. The skipper has no conditions for any independent work, or planning and keeping the desired direction in a day. All aspects of such person’s operation are determined by his surroundings. According to the criteria of time management, such workplaces are under somebody else’s controlled, “owned” by somebody else and highly stressful.
Skipper’s job is certainly closer to the case B, but in reality only a small number of jobs falls into the extreme categories, while most are in the mixed “grey” zone on the line of continuum:
0% 25% 50% 75% 100%
No Low Medium High Absolute
Figure 1. Range of control over one’s own time from 0 – 100 %
A person who controls 50 % of his working hours begins to control his own time and falls into the positive area.
Time management skills
Making a list for time management begins with planning. Take some time each morning to make a list of tasks that require your immediate attention and determine the importance of each task. The advantages of a to-do list are many:
• Keep you focused on your objectives
• Help you remember even the smallest task
• Help you prioritize what is more important or urgent
• Show the bigger picture
• Save time
• Keep you in control and on track
• Create a record of what you have done and when
• Provide a sense of achievement as you cross off completed tasks
• Free your mind so you can focus on bigger, more important tasks
After you have made your lists of things to do and prioritized them, the real challenge to managing your time rears its ugly head. The real challenge in effectively managing your time is the process of monitoring, analysing and revising your plan until it works. Some of the skills you will need to make your chosen method of time management succeed are:
One of the most important things to keep in mind if you are struggling with time management is that effective planning is a skill that takes time to acquire, practice, and polish. You will not sit down on the yacht in the morning and have a perfect strategy. You may fail at your first attempt. The process of time management does not end with the creation of some lists.
A vital part of having a successful time management strategy is self-analysis. There is no one on the yacht to monitor your efforts at using time effectively other than yourself. Determine whether tasks have been accomplished or not, and figure out why.
Your time plan will be most successful if you remember that it is not written in stone. By expecting the unexpected and building flexibility into your time plan, you will have a better chance of achieving your goals.
To be successful at time management, it is necessary to be strategic. This involves several steps. The common denominator of all steps is awareness of the importance of time management, of how you are using your time, and of what works or does not work for you.
Personal time management
Time management skills are important for everyone – but especially for skippers balancing between guest wishes and realistic possibilities of the overall environment.
Some ways you can begin making the most efficient use of your time are:
• Streamline and simplify the things you have to do but do not like to do, so you will have more time and energy for other things.
• Prioritize and define your goals and tasks, and order them in terms of the most important and achievable in the time allotted.
• Organize and figure out the best way to accomplish your everyday tasks, such as replenishment of water and fuel, listening to weather forecasts, berth reservation at the next port, engine control, etc.
• Economize and reduce the things that are not urgent.
• Do not multitask: In order to get the most out of our time, we feel the need to do several things at once, but we actually accomplish more when we focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking actually hampers productivity because it takes much longer to finish anything.
• Set deadlines: Set realistic deadlines and make sure you stick to them.
• Learn to say no: Politely decline to accept more guest wishes if this will interfere with your ability to complete existing priority plans and meet deadlines.
• Take breaks: Plan and take a short break-even all guests are on the yacht. Your body and your mind need short breaks to rest and refresh (short swimming or a few hundred meters walking alone). You will be far more focused, creative, and able to cope with stressful situations when you allow yourself to take regular, short breaks.
Team/guest time management
As only one professional on the yacht, in some case, you need a “hand” of other persons (guest) on board. Engaging other persons to take some duties you can improve your personal time management plan. As skipper, you have a few ways how you can do this:
• Communicate clearly. Clear communication involves careful speaking to interpret and convey information. A guest coming back for further explanation of received information, because of poor information is just wasting valuable time.
• Delegate intelligently. Try to find among guest on yacht some, with skills to whom you can delegate some task. Finding the right person to help with an issue can ease your time management.
• Set deadlines or goals. When delegating tasks, set realistic deadlines and goals.
The ability to manage time effectively is a very valuable asset to have in the working world. If you can master time management in the stressful, unstructured environment of the yachting business, you can be confident of your ability to manage time in almost any situation.
On smaller yachts, it is often the case that any plan is hard to realize, let alone perform it well. This happens in adverse weather conditions which often change when you have guests that are hard to make any arrangements with, when it is impossible to plan a safe berth, etc. In such cases, it is needless to worry yourself with planning failures. In such situations, rely on some other mechanisms of directing your activities, such as organization’s business policy, proscribed work rules, standards of success, good practice, etc.
During your cruise, you were writing down the tasks that should be done on the yacht but were not of vital importance for the safety of navigation or comfort of guests on the yacht. As the days went by, some of the things from the list became quite urgent and you had to deal with them. You found some time and decided to do all the tasks in the order they were listed. Dealing with the problems took longer than you expected and owing to other obligations on the yacht, you could not solve some of the problems from the list. If they were important issues, you had to tell the guests on the yacht that you will need a little more time to deal with a problem that may be important, perhaps even essential. The guests understood you, but they were also a bit dissatisfied because they had other plans for that day that they had to change.
The inconvenience may be avoided by proper time planning, i.e. planning the jobs which should be done at a certain time according to the plan.
Lesson learned: Set your mind to the (many) tasks in hand; focus on the jobs that need to be done and make a list to help you to prioritise. Think about it and select first jobs which have priority or those with a pressing deadline first to avoid the dissatisfaction of guests or unnecessary panic towards the end of the day. A bit of forward planning really does help.
– manage your attention, your focus
– focus on results, not activities
– try to control at least 50% of your working hours
– make a list of tasks each morning
– determine the importance of each task
– monitor, analyse and revise your plan until it works well
– monitor your efforts of using time effectively
– determine whether tasks have been accomplished or not, and figure out why
– be ready to expect the unexpected
– build flexibility into your time plan
– streamline and simplify the things you have to do but do not like doing
– economize and reduce the things that are not urgent
– focus on one thing at a time
– set realistic deadlines and make sure you stick to them
– take a short break for yourself even if all guests are on the yacht
– engage other persons to take some duties
– communicate clearly to avoid further explanation to the guests
– find the right person on the yacht to delegate some task
– think that you will sit down on the yacht in the morning and have a perfect strategy for the day
– think that the process of time management ends with the creation of some lists
– think that your plan is written in stone
– multitask (do not do several things at once)
– set unrealistic deadlines
– accept more guest wishes if this will interfere with your ability to complete existing priority plans and meet deadlines
A short TEST!