I used to have a poster like this hanging in my studio, but I discovered that it just irritated sales people and those emergencies kept popping up anyway. Plus, when the PD walks in and wants to do a promo around an "in-the-moment" event that's going on in the news, all that "Lack of planning" stuff just flies out the window. For a few years, I had a pretty bad reputation for biting the head off of people who came to me with a production problem they thought only I could solve. It was a reputation that I am a bit red-faced about now, because it was pretty much well-deserved. In the end, I realized that while I might still have the sentiment, it's less than smart to be so belligerent, so the poster came down.
I have written a lot about time-management over the years because it is through time management that I hold onto my sanity. Back in the day, when I first transitioned from being on the air to working in production, my day would normally start sometime between 10am and noon. That was also when I started to put on the pounds because I'd never get home for dinner until 7:30 or 8 o'clock at night. (Late-night dinners seem to really pack on the weight for me.) My girlish figure was the least of my concerns though. I had no social life. I had no time to fill my well and I know that my work suffered for it.
One day, I decided that I wanted to learn to fly my own plane. To do that one must log a certain number of dual-hours (with an instructor) and a certain number of solo-hours (on one's own) to gain enough proficiency to take the exams (written and flight with an FAA inspector). I figured that really applying myself every weekend would get my ticket in 2 years. The flight school is open every day, but the latest you can get a 2-hour lesson in is 4pm. So, I hatched a plan.
What if I turned my day at work upside down, going into work at 5am, walking out at 2pm? If I really applied myself, I could probably get all my flight-time done in a few weeks, a month at the most. I approached my PD, Tom Poleman and asked about it. He was very uncomfortable about it, but in light of my short-term goals, he thought we could at least try it for a few weeks. With any luck at all, I would get my ticket before Tom pulled the plug on my new hours.
Then, something totally unexpected happened. Instead of having a few projects slip between the cracks every week and having to catch up on those the following week, everything was getting done by mid-week! When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. When I started coming it at 5am, I was getting 3 to 4 hours of solid work done without any phone calls, emails or texts. No interruptions at all meant I could literally get it all done with time to spare.
Then the real miracle happened. When a sales rep would walk in wth a special problem or request, I was relaxed. I generally smiled and dropped whatever I was doing to help solve the problem. Tom was happy, the sales team was happy, the general manager was extremely happy because he didn't have to get involved with the little problems that always crop up and could concentrate on the big picture issues. My personal reputation improved almost overnight.
I've told this story a few times over the years and almost every time, whoever I was telling my tale to would say, "Nah...I can't do morning show hours. I'm just not a morning person." But a few went on to try it at their station. Every person who did came back just 6 or 7 weeks later and told me how much better their life was both personally and professionally.
Look, I get it. 5am is NOT for everyone. Some people just can't function with those kinds of hours. Some producers have other duties that require them to be there later in the day (like an afternoon jock or Music Director.) But some have tried a modified version of this where they block out 3 or 4 hours when they cannot be reached. They give their all to the process during that time and get a ridiculous amount of quality work done. It works!
Now, when I think of my little poster, I realize that the true lack of planning was on MY part, not the hapless soul who had to bring their problem to me. I didn't structure MY day to get all the important stuff done, so that when they did come in with an emergency, it was MY emergency too. Their project is every bit as important as MY important stuff.
Today, that little poster makes me smile a little because it's true, but not for the reason I used to think it was.