Advertising
Advertising

Scoring 100% in Time Management

Scoring 100% in Time Management

Scoring 100% in Time Management

    Excellent school Exam grade

      “Most people who attempt to learn a new time management system fail.”

      I can’t prove the above statement with hard facts, but I have a sense that it’s true, based on my personal experience and observations.  If success is defined as 100% successful implementation, then that statistic is most certainly true.

      On the other hand, perhaps 99% of the people who take a time management program put down the book, or drive back home, agreeing with 100% of the ideas.

      Advertising

      So, the million dollar question is: what’s the problem?

      Did the time management gurus blind them with their brilliance?  Or does it prove that we are all a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings with short attention spans, suffering from various degrees of ADHD?

      The problem is not something that’s addressed by the gurus, and it’s actually something that is being ignored by gurus and devotees alike.

      It’s a problem in what we think time management IS.

      Learning a new time management system is not like learning differential calculus, financial accounting or particle physics.  Each of these subject-areas are new to most people, who typically come to them like a blank canvas, and without any homegrown capability whatsoever.  Most of us haven’t figured out our own system of computing depreciation before stepping into accounting 101.

      Advertising

      Ironically, our ignorance helps..  A new system of thinking is easier to learn when it’s completely fresh to us, and only requires us to be ready, willing and able.

      Learning a new approach to time management is much more difficult, because standing in the way of a shiny new system is the one that we are already using.

      That’s the same one we first put together when we entered high school, refined when we were in college, adapted when we got our first job, and started suffered with when we got married and found a bunch of stuff falling through the cracks for the first time.

      That’s “the time management system we never knew we had.”

      (For some of us, calling it a system might be too much of a mental leap, but it’s tough to get through college without having put something in place.)

      Advertising

      This “system we never knew we had” is comprised of habits, practices and rituals that have been practiced over the years and are now built into our neuro-muscular systems.  In this sense, we are more like smokers trying to quit some dangerous behaviors, than we are mathematicians learning some brand new techniques.

      Ask President Obama, or any smoker, and they’ll tell you… quitting is tough.

      But time management gurus don’t tell you that changing the habits that make up your current time management system is just as challenging. They don’t get you to appreciate what you are up against as you try to reverse decades of practice, reinforced by some positive results that convinced your subconscious that you had this time management thing beaten.

      Not only don’t you know all this, but most people try to learn a new time management system when they KNOW that their system is no longer successful.  As you ponder your latest failure, you are driven crazy with desire for the new system being offered that seems to be so logical, sensible and easy to understand.

      This only adds to the frustration.  It appears to be easy, but isn’t.

      Advertising

      Here’s a concept: Forget about learning a new time management system, and instead take a program in “Habit Changing 101.” Discover the unique set of actions you must take to change your ingrained habits so that they stay changed.  Figure out the unique blend of goal-setting, community support, backup plans, rewards, punishments, reminders, coaching, etc. that you need to succeed.

      Once your special cocktail is figured out, then take any time management program that you want, implement the changes slowly (one habit at a time,) and take enough time to ensure that you won’t lapse into the old habits when the inevitable crises hit.

      You may still be failing to implement THEIR system the way it “should” be done, but you’ll be 100% effective at upgrading your own.

      More by this author

      Francis Wade

      Author, Management Consultant

      How To Manage A Post-College Productivity Dip Why You Need to Understand and Accept Your Productive Type A Tendencies The New Lifehacking #7 – Why You Should Be Open to New Stuff, But Wary About Using It The New LifeHacking #6 – Staying Away from Harmful Gadgets The New Lifehacking #5 – Tricking Yourself into Making the Changes You Need

      Trending in Featured

      1 Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) 2 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 5 40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2020 Updated)

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

      This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

      The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

      The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

      Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

      Curiosity

      Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

      People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

      Patience

      Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

      When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

      Advertising

      Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

      A Feeling for Connectedness

      This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

      A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

      The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

      How to Self-Taught Effectively

      With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

      1. Research

      Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

      Learning the Basics

      Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

      Advertising

      Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

      What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

      Hitting the Books

      Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

      Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

      Long-Term Reference

      While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

      My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

      Advertising

      2. Practice

      Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

      A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

      Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

      Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

      3. Network

      One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

      These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

      Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

      Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

      Advertising

      4. Schedule

      For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

      Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

      Final Thoughts

      In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

      If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

      At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

      More About Self-Learning

      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

      Read Next