Co-Plan to Guarantee Your Client’s Success

Any training program that instantly dumps too many new habits into the laps of learners is bound to fail. Most time management programs do just that, and so do time clutter consultants who can rattle off the 50 things that the client needs to fix in the first 60 minutes.

The better approach is to spend time to teach your client a thing or two about structured habit change, and the latest findings which all show how weak we are at this particular skill.

A variety of books have been written on the topic, but my favorite is Change Anything by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler.

They make the point that we over-estimate our willpower to our detriment and falsely believe that habit change is easy. We then fail and blame the coach/consultant/trainer, and some even swear off time management training altogether.

The way to ensure that your client doesn’t join the unsuccessful majority is to make it impossible to fail.

1 – take all the changes they discovered that they want to make from the prior Phases and make a single list, along with the dates they had originally assigned.

2 – help them to rationalize their list into one that looks doable, from their perspective. It’s better to be pessimistic than optimistic at this point as there’s more to be gained from making faster progress than expected, than from failing to meet their goals.

At the end of this exercise, their plan might stretch for more than a year. Don’t be alarmed, as this might fit the progress that they need to make to meet their goals.

Some might not be able or willing to see more than a few changes. Don’t force them to make the progress that you think they should make, but instead urge them to be successful in making the changes they are committed to.

If you are using a ladder or matrix of fundamentals such as the ones we use at 2Time Labs, then you might want to ensure that the client’s growth is uniform, and that you don’t end up with a profile of ridiculously high skills in one area and low skills in others. Instead, try to even out the changes they need to make to prevent imbalances that could cause unwanted problems.

Never make the mistake of putting their plan together for them. Remember, it’s called Co-Planning for a reason!

Lastly, be prepared for your client to want to change their plans as their self-knowledge increases. Again, don’t force them into anything. Just keep pointing out the consequences of every decision they make, and always leave the final decision up to them.

A good plan should not leave them drained, but inspired.

The Three Month Difference

iStock_000001070072XSmallThree months after your work is done with a client, what differences would you like to see?

As a time clutter consultant, it’s useful to think about the end-result. In other words, what do you want to happen once your work with your client is complete, your bill has been paid and you have sailed off into the golden sunset?

Most who are new to this field want results that are nothing short of magical. They wish for a client who will implement everything they are told without delay, and arrive at a perfect system within a matter of months, if not weeks, or days.

They are likely to be disapponted by what they find in reality.

Because time management systems are made up of habits, practices and rituals, our clients like most humans beings, have a tough time in making changes stick. It takes time. As Mark Twain said: “Habits must be coaxed down the stairs one step at time.”

Once your consulting gig is over, therefore, you probably won’t leave a client in a static state that is unchanging. Insted, here’s the very best place in which you can leave your clients:

1. They have a plan for gradually changing habits, practices and rituals that lasts at least 6-12 months.
2. They are implementing new routines that are are supported by their environment.
3. They stand ready, willing and able to implement an upgrade in the future as soon as the circumstances require it.
4. They are constantly tweaking their habit-change support system so that they maintain forward momentum.
5. They welcome new technology, and the opportunity to see if it can help them put in an upgrade.

At this point they are fully self-sufficient and you, the consultant, can walk away knowing that you have given them all they need to be successful.

What do you think? Is it too much to ask for?

P.S. If you have an interest in using the three month difference to increase your revenue, here are some further thoughts on how to be an effective time management consultant in order to achieve that goal.

How to Coach Anyone: From an Expert to a Novice

Some consultants worry that there might be clients who are either not sophisticated enough, or too sophisticated for them to handle.

It’s a valid concern, as static time management systems that present fixed habit patterns often miss the mark with clients who fall at the low end, or high end of the skill spectrum. As their Time Management 2.0 consultant, you need not worry, however.

First, if you are consulting with them it’s because they experience a current gap, or expect to face one in the short term. That gap is the cause of symptoms they hope to mitigate.

Second, at the end of your work with them, they actually need the same things: a handful of behavior changes that they can safely and successfully implement because they have the right supports in place. The exact number of changes, and the choice of supports must be discovered by working with them.

Third, when working with someone with low skills, the key is not to overwhelm them with too much. Make success easy by focusing on small steps.

Fourth, when working with someone with high skills, don’t box them into anything. If your diagnosis shows them to have super-human skill in time management, don’t panic. Just use the principles that you know and understand that you must look for the Kryptonite… their areas of weakness. Then, don’t pretend to have the answers. Instead, bring the right questions and discover what small changes they need to focus on making in the short and mid-term.

Just to reinforce the point… remember, you are the expert now because of what you know, but because of what you know what questions to ask which leave both clients at the very same place: with a plan for improvement that looks doable to each of them.

Can I Bring My Own Approach?

Here at 2Time Labs we have come up with 2 innovations that we offer to time clutter consultants.

One is the 8 Phase method that describes the distinct steps taken to deliver time clutter consulting. It’s described in this blog in some detail given our commitment to serve the needs of time clutter coaches this year.

Our other innovation is a specific framework built using Time Management 2.0 principles. It describes the flow of time demands through one’s life. In our individual time management training, it provides each person with the 7 inescapable fundamentals of time management, showing all the possible ways in which a time demand can be disposed of once it enters a person’s life. These are comprised of Capturing, Emptying, Tossing, Acting Now, Storing, Scheduling and Listing. There are also 4 Advanced Fundamentals: Interrupting, Switching, Warning and Reviewing

We are sometimes asked the question: “can someone be an effective time management consultant without using this second innovation, because I have my own approach?” The short answer? Absolutely.

It’s entirely possible to learn and enhance what you do from the way we deliver our training, simply using the same principles, and come up with your own set of practices, forms and measurements. While we reserve our detailed forms for paying customers who are committed to learning how to upgrade their time management skills, there’s a lot that we can pass on on how to help your clients use your approach as effectively as possible.

Here’s what you need to take into account:

1. The vast majority of professionals made up their own time management system as teens or young adults. Some parts work, and some parts don’t. Each person’s system is different, so you need a way to diagnose them individually.

2. The process of diagnosis needs to be simple enough for them to learn how to do it once, and again when their lives change.

3. Most people fail to implement lots of new habits and practices all at once. Your approach must help them take small steps.

4. You must focus on behaviors that are observable, rather than attitudes, value, energy, moods et al which are not.

5. Build a competency matrix based on the behaviours you have identifed. Here are a couple of examples that show a ladder of skills in different, distinct areas.






























6. Use the ladder of skills in your discussion with clients as a rating tool, and a way to focus on the gaps in behavior that are needed to move to the next level.

This is the way that we use to break down a complex skill (time management) into component parts that helps the client to focus on one or two habits at any moment in time, and therefore avoid the problem that most trainees have of trying to implement too much all at once. Using your own ladder of behaviors, it’s not too hard to achieve this goal.