“I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what
I want to do, but I don’t know where to begin.”

Stephen Bayne – Episcopal Bishop

When you think of a stereotypical journalist, what is the first image that comes to mind? I think of that reporter in the movies, typing with manic, red eyes, and casting frantic glances at the clock. Amidst heaps of coffee-stained papers, an empty out-tray, and a burgeoning in-tray, my stereotypical journalist is frazzled and unpleasant.

Hollywood dictates that to be a great journalist you have to give in to this way of life. You need to work well under pressure and thrive on stress to know you’re doing your job right. Personally, I’m not sure that’s what I want for myself. After all, I don’t want to die having just been a great journalist; I want to have been great at life as well. And logically, what kind of personality in any other field is more likely to get the job done, the frazzled, unpleasant mess or the relaxed, clear-headed go-getter? I think it’s time we started changing our perception of what a stereotypical journalist should look like.

‘No Clean Underwear Syndrome’

Clinical psychologist and academic career coach Mary McKinney calls the wigged-out way of life the ‘No Clean Underwear Syndrome’: “We focus with single-minded intensity on a drop-dead deadline and even basic life maintenance tasks fall by the wayside,” says McKinney. “Email inboxes overflow, phone calls go unreturned, exercise regimes are dropped, and our dirty laundry piles up until we don’t even have any clean underwear.”

But not everyone whose life is out of control has ‘No Clean Underwear Syndrome’. For instance, you might be one of those people who focus more on daily chores and life-maintenance, letting work fall by the wayside. Either way, if you’ve got a ‘go-with-the-flow’ attitude when it comes to your work, you need to start mastering time-management ASAP.

For the next five weeks, the Journalism: Tips for Better Time Management Series will look at the various things that can hinder effective time management. Keep an eye out for Part I which will look at the importance of effective self-management and administration.

About the Author

Samantha Moolman is a freelance writer and editor who is currently responsible for the Family Life articles in Your Baby magazine.

Samantha also works as an assistant lecturer for the University of Pretoria’s Department of Journalism.

Photo credit: flickr.com_ BLW Photography