So, your boss has enrolled the entire department in a time management training course … again. Wasn’t it just 18 months ago that you went through this before?
Actually, you did come away from that last course with some very helpful insights on prioritizing projects and organizing information more effectively. Yet, your desk is still a mess, and much of the time your team is still racing the clock to beat every deadline. Maybe your boss has a point.
But what are the chances that another round of time management training will “cure” you or the rest of your team of your time management defects?
Here is some good news for everyone out there who may be burdened with time management performance anxiety: it’s okay to be you, just as long as you know what you are doing and why you are doing it!
The Importance of Being Human
These days, many time management consultants are beginning to recognize the roles that human factors like learning styles and personality types play in the way people approach time management issues. Simply put: we are each unique human beings, not clones or robots. We don’t all think the same way, or value the same things.
In addition, over the years, research has revealed that our brains may often take the same input and process it in a completely different way than someone else. Though it’s not neurologically accurate, one of the most popular models of contrasting information processing modes is expressed in binary terms, as “right-brain” and “left brain” thinking.
In a nutshell, people whose thought processes are described as “left-brained” think about information using linear, analytical patterns, while “right-brained” people work through the same type of information through creative, intuitive processes.
It probably comes as no surprise that, for many years, most time management courses were designed using “left-brained” methods, placing a high emphasis on making lists and organizing data into neat, digestible categories. This type of system works great for left-brainers, but it can drive a “right-brained” person nuts.
For right-brained people, a lot of work gets done from random association, creativity, and inspiration. An analytical system built on lists, calendars and categories seems restrictive and stifling. (To people in the left-brained world, meanwhile, right-brained behavior and working methods can appear disorganized and chaotic.)
Right? Left? Right? Wrong?
As far as effectively managing time and getting things done, right and left – and right and wrong – really have nothing to do with it!
Instead of focusing on the system, redirect your attention to the final product. Time management is about wisely using the 24 hours of each day that we all have to work with. It is about finding ways to be as productive as possible during those 24 hours, in ways that enhance every aspect of your life.
This sounds like a tall order, but it can be broken down into a few smaller goals. You simply need to find methods that help you do three things:
- Identify Priorities – Decide what is truly most important to you, and give yourself permission to get those things done first.
- Organize Information – Collect and store important data so that you can easily and quickly locate it when you need it.
- Keep Promises – Honor appointments and meet your deadlines.
Now, how you get these things done is really up to you! A time management system or training course can help you get a handle on the basics, but you still have to customize the process so that it fits who you are – a class is not going to alter your personality.
If making lists and keeping charts helps you, great! If you function better by making piles on your desk, there is nothing wrong with that – as long as you can still find things!
If you can find a way to be you and meet those three main goals, you will be both happier and more productive. And really, that’s what time management is all about.
Reprinted by permission from Baker Communications, Inc.