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Apr 01 2017
Pinball Wizard?
Shane Inglesby, CCE, Geneva Rock Products , Inc., Chairman NACM Board of Directors

How is your day going? Do you feel like a steel ball in a pinball machine that is being bounced around by its bumpers? Are you hoping and praying the ball doesn't get past the flippers, which you control, to fall into the void while trusting you have one more ball to play?


You are not alone. With all of the sources of information available to credit managers combined with the responsibilities we juggle, no wonder we are so stressed. Between emails, texts, phone calls, voicemails, internet updates along with meetings, corporate goals and unexpected curveballs in the day, it can be a challenge keeping our steel ball in play and scoring a few points along the way.

To get to the root of how to manage the barrage of work, you need to ask yourself, "Where am I hanging out during the day?" I know - the answer seems obvious. You're thinking to yourself, "In my office, of course." Yes, I would hope that would be the answer.

Perhaps, better stated - what are you doing in your office? Most likely, the main reason you're feeling like a pinball is because of where you're hanging out in your office. Let me guess; you spend the better part of your day checking your email. I'm betting you also allow your computer monitor to stay fixed on your email so you can "stay in touch" with the world.

Let's be honest; email is an interesting place to hang out. You can easily keep a pulse on the world around you by monitoring what's going on in your email.


To be even more brutally honest, email makes you feel important. You have many individuals choosing to correspond with you about important topics and/or tasks. It feels good to be wanted and needed.


Email not only defines who you are, it tells you what to do. As a result, you dart around, much like that pinball, bouncing off of one bumper to land on another while scoring some points. And, hey, if the flipper is keeping you in motion, you must be doing something right! Right?


WRONG! You are being reactive in a world where those who are proactive truly get things done. Work should not feel like an environment where you are constantly reacting to what is going on around you.


Yes, work is busy. Yes, you do have much work to accomplish. HOWEVER, email is not your boss nor should it be your action plan or day planner for your day. Email is a tool - treat it as such. 

Time management experts teach the worst thing you can do to manage your time is to allow email to be the focal point of your day. If your computer is configured to automatically default to your email page, change your settings to allow you to focus on something else. Ideally, assuming you use your computer to generate your daily task list, your tasks or to-do list should be your focus.

If you use a hardcopy task list, change your computer to default to an image you find inspiring, perhaps even relaxing. Do not allow yourself to be swallowed into the black hole we call email.


Focus on your task list. You will then be in much greater control of your day. You will focus on your greatest priorities.


Email will be a task on your list. You will need to spend a portion of your day responding to emails. However, many emails can and should become tasks to fit into the course of your day's activities. Schedule your response. Be proactive. Plan. Resist the urge to react. DO NOT allow yourself to become a pinball and bounce from one task to another diverting your focus from your priorities for the day.


Yes, you will have unscheduled events take place that will throw your plan for the day off track. However, a task list that is the focus for the day will eventually allow unexpected turns to merge back to a day's planned tasks or projects.


Stop hanging out in email. Do not allow your focus to be diverted by email. Focus on your task list.


As much as you might think you are a Pinball Wizard, the sad reality is, like most who play, the ball eventually disappears into the void. Keep focused on what really matters.