6 Billion Time Management Systems Walking Around…
This is a guest post by Francis Wade of Time Management 2.0.
Most professionals can name a handful of time management systems that they have come across in their professional careers. They can probably also list a few people here and there who have embraced these systems and are quite happy using them. If they were to think of improving their productivity they would probably look to adopt one of the systems they have heard about and take a course, read a book or visit a few websites in order to learn what to do.
Except, what if the way we think about time management is completely confused? In reality, aren’t we all really just walking around using unique systems of our own creation?
Perhaps our time management systems are like fingerprints – one of a kind. The most recent research has focused on the fact that habits, rituals and practices are the building blocks of ALL time management systems, whether we realize it or not. In other words, even if we don’t do it consciously, the habit patterns we use on a daily basis to get things done are uniquely ours, developed over time to suit our particular circumstances. In other words, there are potentially over six billion time management systems walking around, one for each person on the planet.
Is there something wrong with thinking in this way? Should we all be following one system instead of adopting infinitely many? While it’s possible to teach groups of people to goose-step in unison in some settings, companies should not be encouraging all their employees to take the same approach to managing their time. The fact is, needs differ from one person to the next, and it would be a mistake to try to implement the CEO’s habit pattern, for example, in the life of all employees.
First there is the fact that habits are quite difficult to change. New rituals are hard to establish, and old ones are tough to quit. It’s a misguided executive who wastes the company’s money and time trying to get all the employees to follow a single time management system.
Secondly, the CEO’s lifestyle is very different from that of employees. While he may be a black belt in time management, the front-line employees may simply not need such sophisticated skills, nor even want them. Sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander, if top performance from employees is what is most desired.
This isn’t to say that companies shouldn’t encourage employees to be more productive. Instead, they should help employees learn how to manage and upgrade their own time management systems, in order to achieve their individual goals. This kind of assistance could start by helping employees to see and understand the time management systems they have been using on a daily basis, without necessarily being fully aware of them. Then, once they gain some awareness, it’s not too hard to teach employees how to perform upgrades to their system using best practices taken from wherever they can be found.
In this way, each employee ends up with a truly custom system, plus a pathway for steady improvement. That’s the way to tap into the creativity of each person on the payroll, as a way to ultimately achieving superior results.