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September 7, 2011

Time Time Time: The hoax of time management!

How to become a Master of Time.

Time Management is a flawed concept

The problem starts with the way we think about Time. The top selling business books usually say something about leadership, something about strategy, and something about time. They provide one-stop principles for managing time, and give you the impression that you can gain time or even claw back lost time.

Time management as a principle leads you to believe that time can be managed. But the reality is that there are only 24 hours in a day and that nothing you do will ever change that.

So our approach to handling time is flawed from the outset, but why is that? Much of our time management thinking comes from the manufacturing floor, where you start and finish a job routinely and you don’t take work home. As knowledge workers, be that in leadership, management or customer facing, we have hundreds of outstanding issues at any one time, some of which encroach on our personal time.

Yet we continually apply a time management methodology to our working day, we build endless lists, priorities, and we try to plan and schedule hundreds of items, which in the end is just not productive.

In fact David Allen, who is widely recognized as the world's leading authority on personal and organizational productivity would argue that these “open loops” sap our energy and distract us by popping into our minds at the worst times, at the exact moment when we can’t do anything about them.

Our working days are not what they used to be. We have more fluid lists of objectives to manage that increasingly encroach on our personal time. There are out of office conference calls, weekend team building trips or shifts to cover, time zone differences and relationships to factor.

The very concept of fixed working hours, whilst they might exist on your contract are difficult to hold true and very often are just annoying reminders that you have no real control over time.

If you want to learn to master time: you must learn that there is no single quick fix

The issue of time cannot be resolved by buying a one size fits all book. The very idea that one size fits all is a hoax that has cost millions in wasted training courses that promise to help us manage our time more effectively.

As individuals we are made up of complex behaviors, and our culture influences how we use our time and how we perceive time.

So if you want to become a person that masters time you must first understand how your behavior and cultural journey influences your time.

Your cultural perception of time affects how you Master Time

“You have the watches, but we have the time”. This is a phrase often heard in African communities in reference to western business colleagues. It is indicative of the cultural differences in the perception of time. We have all heard the phrase “Time is money,” another cultural perception of time that exists in the western world.

How we use our time is influenced by our cultural styles, as can be seen by the above statements. What’s more, this view can change through the generations. Some cultures see time as something that you have a lot of, because they have the time to sit down, to discuss, to hear stories, to dialogue, and to tell stories. Whereas other cultures perceive that they never have enough time and that it is a precious commodity.

Tools such as the 3 Colors of Worldview and the 12 Dimensions of Culture can be used to help you to make sense of how you see time and how that may be different to those around you.

Your behavioral style affects your ability to master time

A task oriented driver, who likes to take risk and wants to get the job done will enjoy working in a task oriented team that presses on to get the job finished; but may not enjoy the socializing and networking part of the relationship.

A highly analytical or detail oriented person may not enjoy investing time in brainstorming, but will want to have tangible, verifiable facts on the table.

Self-discipline is challenged when we have to do things that we don’t enjoy doing and vice versa. If you enjoy doing something it becomes much easier to achieve.

Using tools such as DISC can help you to understand how you work with time.

How to become a Master of Time

At KnowledgeWorkx we advocate the use of DISC, the 3 Colors and 12 Dimensions in conjunction with one of the most powerful ways for people to move forward quickly: Inscape Publishing’s Time Mastery System.

The Time Mastery Profile provides a complete; research based self-directed assessment of your current time management effectiveness strengths and weaknesses. The built-in workbook creates a framework to develop customized strategies for skill improvement in twelve key areas:

  • Attitudes
  • Goals
  • Priorities
  • Analyzing
  • Planning
  • Scheduling
  • Interruptions
  • Meetings
  • Written Communications
  • Delegation
  • Procrastination
  • Team Time

Using the 12 different areas individuals are able to map their proficiency in a given area to the importance it plays in their current role, providing areas of focus.

It’s not how you manage time but what you do with it

We will advise on the pursuit of specialist skills that will increase efficiency such as Outlook Management Skills, Typing and more complex Mindmapping processes. We also utilize current Time Mastery aids such as the work of David Allen and “Getting Things Done”.

What is most important though, is that you evaluate which parts work for you and which might not work for you based on your cultural perspective and behavioral style.

Our experience is that tailored approaches ensure the best results for those seeking to become Masters of Time. There is no “one size fits all.” But when people use a tailored approach, they come away with tangible, achievable objectives that work for them.

Those seeking to become Masters of Time, should contact us.

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