Managing Tahoe time |

Managing Tahoe time

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ South Lake Tahoe Police officer Candice Silva takes emergency police and fire calls at the dispatch center.

The issue of time management is relevant to just about anyone in the working world. But no where is it more relevant than here, where the breezy saying “Tahoe Time” has become fodder even in a South Shore theater production.

Tahoe Time is leaving five minutes before you have to meet someone, says Dave Hamilton, Lake Tahoe Community College theater chief and director of “Guilty Pleasures,” a satirical play on Tahoe life.

There’s a reason everyone in the audience will giggle when they hear the line. Take a trip to Raley’s at the “Y” where residents congregate and throw in driving in a snowstorm, and it’s easy to have time get the best of you.

More tools like e-mail and wireless technology exist, but some distract workers. Plus, having fewer workers to do the job creates extra demands on workers – equaling a greater need for time management.

The stress has caught the attention of vocational educators and the U.S. Department of Labor – which predicted in 1968 that labor-saving devices would lower the work week to 22 hours by 1985.

More tools, less leisure time

Who knew the opposite would become the conventional wisdom? The federal government reported recently the work week has increased by 20 percent in the last 35 years, while leisure hours have dropped by 37 percent. As a result, Americans spend 40 percent less time with their children in a given week. And with Valentine’s Day approaching, couples may be shocked to discover they’re seeing their spouses an average of 12 minutes in face-to-face contact.

In Europe, the average worker takes 28 days of vacation compared to 10 days for Americans.

South Shore real estate agent Deb Howard, who owns her own company, turned one of the most romantic vacation destinations into a work trip to appease her personal and working lives.

Howard is wired up to the latest technology and hooked up on many committees and appointments. Like many agents, time is her best friend. Her rides around town are filled with conversations on a telephone headset.

“Time management is critical to productivity because most people try to cram as much as possible in a day,” Howard said Thursday from Kauai. She attended a National Association of Realtors resort marketing symposium but stayed connected through her wireless phone and laptop.

“Staying in touch enables you to take a vacation. People don’t even know I’m gone,” she said. She recommends anticipating a plan of action and finding a healthy balance between using new tools but not overdoing them.

“You can ‘out gadget’ yourself. If you don’t use them, it doesn’t help,” she said.

Agreeing to a certain extent was South Lake Tahoe City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo, who works under a mound of paper for the city.

“It helps with communication, but it doesn’t give you more time. It just makes the pace faster,” she said, referring to tools, cellular phones and fax machines.

Since 1999, some city workers have been asked to do more with fewer people.

“Multi-tasking is a necessary tool,” said Candice Silva, a police officer filling in at the city’s telephone dispatch center. She developed a greater appreciation for police dispatchers working there. A clock on the computer flashes numbers in hundredths of a second because their calls can mean life or death.

Downtime is a misnomer to dispatchers. They answer 911 calls, communicate with officers and enter data in local, state and national computer systems. Last month, they started inputting counterfeit bill reports.

“The first thing you have to do is log-on,” said 18-year dispatcher Karen Extrum, who says she unwinds at home with her spiritual faith and her piano.

Handling distraction is but one topic covered by Virginia Boyar, LTCC’s Director of Vocational Education, in a nine-hour time management class she teaches in the summer quarter.

She advocates saying “no” when the time demands are too great – especially in the office when people drop-in at your desk.

To avoid these people, she recommends to either stand up if they approach you while you’re sitting down. Also, to avoid people who like to relax while chattering, Boyar recommends keeping a pile of papers on a chair next to you.

“You’ve got to respect your time before someone else does,” she said.

Prioritizing is crucial to Boyar. She suggests labeling items in three categories – vital, important and optional. The problem is, “people gravitate toward the optional.”

“If everything is important then nothing is,” she said. “It’s all about having a balance. We’re all doing more with less resources.”

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