No Such Thing As Basic Time Management

It’s tempting.

Why not just send your employee, client or mentee to a basic time management program?  Nothing fancy, just something to bring them up to speed and relieve you of the burden of having to train them yourself.  You can remember attending a similar session when you were a young employee and how much you learned although, truth be told, you hardly used any of the stuff you were taught.  Ever.

You are trying to be helpful, and efficient, but the odds are great that the basic program you are looking at will do more harm than good.  Why is that?

  1. There is no such thing as basic time management – not any longer.  Instead, the skills needed to manage today’s combination of high volumes and high technology are complex.  Anything claiming to be basic isn’t likely to have been crafted for the Internet age.
  2. Anything basic is likely to claim to be one size that fits all.  Whoever designed the program probably found a single habit pattern that works well for them, and the training might only replicate their peculiar methods.  In today’s age, your employees/clients needs to craft methods that work for them, not for someone else.
  3. The solution that is likely to be offered in a basic program is likely to be static.  That is, it will be presented in a vacuum – as if the students arrived as empty slates and leave as finished products.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They come to class with workable (but probably inadequate) systems that brought them this far.  They leave with some good ideas, but what they are rarely told is that they need to play the reinvention game over and over again in their careers just to keep up.  No program can predict or provide them with enough to last more than a few years and its far better to teach them how to upgrade, than to give them a single static solution hoping it will last.  Teach a man to fish…
  4. They’ll graduate the program believing that change is instantaneous.  A basic program won’t offer the habit change support that’s needed to make real changes take place over several months and years.  After a few months they, like most of their fellow attendees, may well have implemented little that is new and scoff at similar programs in the future.
  5. The worst outcome of all is that they’ll come to see time management skills as basic, no-brain stuff.  They’ll stop being curious about their system, thinking that they have gotten all they can from this kind of training.  Instead, they’ll turn their attention to possessing the latest gadget, spending more time fussing over hot technology than painstakingly developing new habits, practices and rituals; the stuff of which time management is really made of.

So be careful about this particular shortcut; it may just not be worth it.  Seek out instead the right kind of program that might not fit under be “basic” but fits the needs of an employee who must deal effectively in today’s world.