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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.

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      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.

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      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.)

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      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.

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      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.

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      Francis Wade

      Author, Management Consultant

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      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      No!

      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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