The Phases of Time Management Coaching

If you have the task of helping someone else improve their time management and productivity skills, then it’s useful to know that there are a number of distinct phases that you must take your client or employee through in order to have the greatest possible impact.

Imagine that you are a Professional Organizer, and you have a client who appears to have the need for time management coaching / time clutter consulting.  Here are the steps you need to follow to be effective:

  1. Gauging – during your interactions with the client, you see evidence of a time management problem.   Possible Errors:  noticing the wrong symptoms and thinking they are important, or overlooking the right symptoms altogether (Type I and Type II Errors in scientific parlance.)
  2. Probing – this is a conversation to open up the possibility of working with the client/employee to upgrade his/her current system to something new that would be more effective, and help them meet more of their goals.  Possible Errors:  using language that turns off the client, drawing conclusions that they don’t agree with or don’t follow, ignoring their emotions as you reveal their lack of competence, not pointing out the gap between their workload and their current methods
  3. Contracting – a selling conversation designed to close a new agreement to work together, whether for pay or not.  Possible Errors: failing to demonstrate your competence at time management coaching, not being prepared with the right offer/program, all-or-nothing thinking, poor listening skills, et al.
  4. Co-Diagnosing – as you work with the client/employee you diagnose their current system with them, giving them the tools and distinctions needed for them to draw their own conclusions.  Possible Errors:  treating them like a  patient and handing them your conclusions, not allowing them to draw their own conclusions, telling them what to think rather than showing them how you think
  5. Teaching – in order to do diagnosis well, the client/employee needs new principles and distinctions to work with.  These are taught just before they are needed for proper diagnosis.  Possible Errors: not being skillful in teaching them new distinctions, dealing with theory vs. practice, not alternating Teaching with Co-Diagnosing
  6. Co-Planning – helping the client to lay out the sequence of changes they have decided to make in a timeline that makes sense, focusing on baby steps.  Possible Errors: doing the planning for the client, putting together impossibly optimistic plans that result in failure
  7. Co-Crafting – assembling a habit-changing environment that makes it easy for the client to implement new habits, practices and rituals.  Possible Errors: not crafting a fool-proof environment, over-estimating the client’s will-power, trying to give them a one size to fit all environment
  8. Supporting – playing a key role in the client/employee’s support environment as they make changes to their time management system.  Possible Errors:  assuming that they are good at this when they aren’t, being a weak source of support

Following these 8 Phases can make all the difference between success and failure as the client grapples with the significant challenge of upgrading their system even as they use it each day.  Most coaches aren’t successful when they try to take shortcuts as the 8 Phases listed above are a bit different from other kinds of coaching due to the fact “that time management” is a topic that most clients/employees believe they have already mastered.