Saturday, December 8, 2012

Where does time go?

I really laid into work this week, home most days and just digging through the most important things.  A gratifying pile o things were accomplished, but at the end of each day I’d open my notebook and check things off the lists.  Sadly, they didn’t seem to get much shorter.

I think there may be three things at fault.

1- Things always take longer than I think.

Less a matter of underestimating a task than of underestimating the complexity of a task.

Book US travel over Christmas.  Straightforward: open the calendar, bring up the Delta / Orbitz websites, specify “My Travel is Flexible” and see what comes up.  Choose ad pay.

But I have a UK visa meeting on the 19th at 8:45 in Croydon.  The last flight to the US is at 2 pm, no way to be at Heathrow by noon if things get sticky.  The earliest flight back on the 20th leaves via Amsterdam, so cut cost and risk and take the train over the night before.

Make a Eurostar booking, then the new Fyra train (only 20 gbp!) to Schiphol.  Overnight hotel at Schiphol.  Delta website breaks down: call Delta and sort through travel options and price alternatives.  Call family to confirm itinerary.  Call Delta to confirm and pay for itinerary. Print all travel documents (buy black print cartridge).

It’s complicated.

2- eMail and Phone calls are sticky.

When I send a message, I get a reply.  That, in turn, must be answered, and leads to a conversation.

Arrange to start the clinical trial paperwork.  I contacted the Joint Research Center for London’s Hospitals with my Physician / Investigator a month ago and established a file.  Now we need to activate it and start filling it in.

The director writes that the process has been changed: there is now a new office across town.  The new contact is copied in.  My case officer offers a new clinical contact at a different site, copied in.  My current physician bristles and asks for clarification.  The Center asks for a protocol.  I ask for a template.  My CFO asks if the cost estimates are changing.  The cc: list grows and grows.

In the end, we’re trying to identify who is key and try to get them all into a conference call, while asking everyone to limit replies, trim the cc’s, and stay on focus.

3- Stuff happens.

Sometimes an opportunity, sometimes a problem, but no 12-hour day actually ends up with twelve productive hours.

In the end, I think I have to be satisfied that I have done well the things that I can do, I’ve done the most important things, that I’ve finished the tasks I‘ve started, and that I’ve avoided too much stress or wasted motion.

Some day I’ll get back to the ABC’s: realizing Ambitions, keeping Balance, and nurturing Connections.

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