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Time Management is dead: long live Self-Management!


Between a couple of  business meetings, one project deadline and half-way through my Inbox I just remembered something: today is my 8th birthday! Not biologically speaking (although things were so much simpler at that age, weren’t they?) but my 8th birthday working in the BPO and outsourcing industry.



Working in a fast paced, highly demanding and innovative environment like the outsourcing industry can be extremely rewarding from many points of view. The personal and professional development rate is unparalleled by any other industry: the amount of trainings and coaching you receive, the competencies you develop by being exposed to complex business projects, working with customers and colleagues from different cultures, and the amazing career opportunities you have. But it can also be quite stressful and demanding at times, when you struggle to meet multiple deadlines, catch up with your never-ending Inbox, handle increasingly demanding customer requests – all this can lead to burnout and stress.

The most important thing I learned working in the BPO industry regarding stress management is that you need to carefully select your top priorities and accept you cannot do everything you would like to do.

The ever-accelerating pace and informational crush of modern life bring people into an no-thinking compliance mode – a sort of automatic response of saying yes to every task, challenge, etc. So it’s increasingly important for all professionals, whether working in Outsourcing or other demanding industry to learn to rationalize their tasks in terms of their career objectives, and prioritize their tasks based on what helps them achieve your objectives.

First of all let me make one thing clear: there is no such thing as Time management! You cannot manage time: your customers’ time, your boss or colleague’s time, not even your own time, because it is influenced by what happens around you. The best you can do it manage yourself (or how you respond to all the demands and options around you) and manage your priorities.

I’m not saying that we all have the luxury to pick and choose what we want to do at work, but at least we all have the liberty to move our daily activities upwards or downwards the on our to do-list.

I remember my favorite professor in University. He was teaching the history of communication and usually his classes were rather theoretical. Half way through the course some of the people usually started fidgeting, whispering, texting on the phone. But the professor kept writing on the board undisturbed. Until one point when he turned away and faced us without saying a word. Without asking us to be quiet or shouting. Without putting on a severe face. Without changing the course agenda. Just looking at us and waiting for us to calm down. And you know what? It worked! I’m not sure if it was because of the psychological pressure, a feeling of shame and respect we had for him, but we stopped doing whatever  we did and paid attention to him. And the class continued. For me, that will always remain the best example of self management.

Sometimes when life around you is crazy and noisy and distracting, instead of trying to put it into place, or struggle to make order into disorder, just stop from whatever you are doing, look around and calmly face all the distractions, and wait. If you have a clear purpose in mind, if you know what is important to you and what are your priorities, the noise will stop and everything will settle into place.


 carmen serbanoiuAbout Author:  Carmen Serbanoiu is Senior Trainer and Coach with a 7-year accomplished career in training and people development programs, working globally across multiple lines of business within international corporations, to ensure competencies development, employee motivation and talent retention at all organizational tiers, from new hires to higher management. Carmen Serbanoiu  has multiple certifications in Leadership, Project & Process Management, Quality – a  keen sense of business needs and strong intercultural and communication skills – developed via extensive business travel  throughout Europe, Middle East, Asia and US.  Starting 2013 Carmen Serbanoiu is Contributor for Outsourcing Advisors.


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