Managing Time – An act of the will
Do you really want to change the way you manage time?
We are always wiser in hindsight aren’t we…or are we?
Many of us mutter phrases like “If I only had time!” under our breath…, and sometimes out loud… We talk about managing time better, go on courses, read books on the subject and research the net… Time is one of the constants in our lives; those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years roll on unchallenged and we can struggle to live the way we planned.
I often use this definition of insanity; “…to do the same things over and over again in exactly the same way while expecting a different result…
Many of us are living examples of this definition, especially when it comes to the way we manage time. The truth is we cannot manage time! What we can manage is ourselves, and our use of the time we have…
There are any number of courses, tools – both paper and electronic…on managing time. We can be coached or read articles and journals. But, when it all boils down to it, it is about whether we really want to change the way we manage our lives. What is motivating us?
Act of the Will
Effectively the way we manage time is, at the end of the day, an “act of the will”. We will only change when we are prepared to:
- Leave our old ways because we have become dissatisfied with them. They are not working, and
- We make a conscious decision to try something new and different… much the same way as those of us who have successfully given up smoking, excessive alcohol or lost weight.
I have 16 years experience of running training programs. On many occasions people have left the course exactly the same as when they arrived… Nothing wrong with the course content…but…there was either no willingness to acknowledge that they could do things better or their well meaning managers had sent them on the course without consultation or discussion, and they were there under sufferance.
For those of you reading this article who are managers, supervisors or team leaders…I know you want to see real and lasting change in your staff.
Time Poor Tim
During the Personal Productivity Program we run here at Lingford Consulting, we discuss a scenario which revolves around a young man named Tim who has a number of time management issues.
When using scenarios like this I often ask this question… “Imagine you are his manager… What would you do?” Often the responses revolve around sending him to Lingford to do the PPW, sacking him, or sitting him down and asking him why he can’t seem to get his act together… often tied to a Performance Management discussion… However, recently, one of the participants said… “I’d have a conversation with him about where he saw the issues and how he felt about not getting things done…” What a great place to start!
Real and lasting change
So often I find that we want to give people solutions to the problems that we so clearly see, whilst our staff may not even recognise there is an issue. We want to impose change. But the history of that is that it only works for a short time, and often only under constant supervision.
Lou Tice founder of the Pacific Institute says that “Real and lasting change starts on the inside…” People have got to be dissatisfied with their current position, before charting a new course. Perhaps the role of the manager is to feed the dissatisfaction, not present easy ready made solutions.
When discussing this with managers I often suggest that before they send their staff on the next time management training course, they have a chat with their staff about;
- how the staff member see the issues that have led to them coming to this training program
- what the staff member thinks they might get out of the program in terms of how they manage time better
- the interest that the manager has in them and what they will learn
Perhaps too, the manager might offer to take them out for a coffee after the course to discuss what they have learned, what they intend putting into practice and useful information for the manager and the team.
To close some words from that manager of time; Pooh Bear; “Organising is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up.” AA Milne