Getting a Nasty Letter as a Time Management Coach

You are a smart time management coach or consultant who has read a number of books and uses bits and pieces from your favorites in your consulting practice. Your practice grows as you work very hard on your overall approach, and your skills.

You begin to get some national attention in the press and happily announce to your fans online that you are appearing on the Today Show in a month’s time. Shortly before your appearance you receive a letter in the mail from a law firm.

One of the companies that you admire has just sent you a cease and desist letter. Apparently, they believe that you have been using their stuff, violating their copyrights and making money using their content.

You can’t argue with the letter – you have indeed used their specific, copyrighted language in your business. You just didn’t know that you couldn’t and you never imagined that they’d have a problem with it.

Or, perhaps, you gave up on using that company’s ideas in your business from the very beginning. You decided not to enter the time management business at all, or stopped it from growing to the point where anyone would notice.

Or, even rarer, you took your own time and money and developed your own methods, and now you find yourself wanting to protect them however you can.  If they ever get used by some unwitting soul, you stand ready to send your own cease and desist letters.

One of my intentions here at MyTimeDesign is to be as transparent as possible around the rights that I grant consultants, coaches, trainers and professional organizers, who interact with my materials. My intention is to give as much access as possible, and craft a situation that allows more content to be created. In other words, I want to keep alive the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Ideas Come and Go Freely

From the very beginning, I have tried to keep the flow of ideas as smooth as possible. I don’t know there they come from, I don’t own them, and I find that when I give them away here at MyTimeDesign or 2Time Labs, more come. In any case, it’s not possible to copyright ideas, so my commitment to keeping the flow of ideas going, is just a logical outcome of the way copyright laws are set up.

Renaming Sources

The one place I do have a problem is using language from this site or 2Time Labs and saying that you wrote it. This is an issue of honesty for me, and it’s also a violation of copyright law.

The same applies to specific infographics that I use, and also the language on forms. Anyone can use the underlying ideas behind to create their own forms that do the same thing, but not the actual form itself.

What if you don’t have the time to put together your own forms and infographics? You attended one of my programs for time clutter consultants and are wondering if you can use what you want.

Well, you can. When you take a program of mine you are given the opportunity to acquire the rights to use the materials in a few different ways. It’s easy to understand and I explain it more in the actual program.

As a reader of this website, however, understand that you can use freely any of the ideas that you want in your work.

For a summary of some of these ideas, see my video:  Time Management Consultants: What Content Should I Use?

Giving Your Clients New Options with their Calendar

Lifehack just published an article I wrote entitled “The Evolution of the Calendar: How to Use a Calendar Today.” It’s a new take on the future of calendar management that might have a profound impact on the way your clients manage their schedules.

Read it and see why what your client considers their calendar to be is undergoing a massive change and why you, as their coach, need to be aware of it so that you can anticipate the changes that are coming, driven by new technology and real-time cloud storage.

Here’s the article: The Evolution of the Calendar.

Are Our Time Management Clients Stupid?

In my preparation for the ICD Conference in Chicago this week, I had to make a conscious decision (due to time constraints) to exclude my opinion that we consultants often assume that our clients aren’t all that smart.

How do I know we do that?

Take a group of your average clients and ask them to put together a list of the top 10 tips they would give a young professional on the topic of time management or time clutter. In your instructions, ask them not to try too hard to tell the recipient stuff they think they might already know.

Their final product might be a long list of stuff you already know, but here’s the problem: their list would look no different from the tips that are floating around in books, YouTube videos, blogs, tweets, Facebook pages, e-books, podcasts and anywhere else that content can be found in these times. These floating tips are being circulated as if they are important, new, different, important and interesting when in fact, they are nothing but recycled ideas that have been around for years. Here’s an example:

  • Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day.
  • Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain.
  • Block out other distractions.
  • Use a calendar.

If our clients have already heard these things, and they are widely accepted and can hardly be refuted, why are they being repeated ad nauseum? Why are we treating our clients as if they just aren’t all that smart, and that they have never considered the simple ideas that we throw at them over and over again?

I believe the reasons are twofold.

  1. We don’t have anything better. Here, I blame the lack of research. There are just very few places that new ideas are being generated in the field of time management, even as the technology that’s available to help us explodes. In the absence of new ideas, the old ones keep being re-assembled in lists of frivolous tips that claim to make a difference.  (e.g. “Planning is Key” – taken from a prestigious magazine for C-level executives. )
  2. They aren’t implementing them. We know that in spite of the tremendous number of time management tips floating around that they make little or no difference. People who do a lot of planning already agree that “Planning is Key.” Those who don’t agree aren’t going to change their minds because the new “tip” is included in a list. The vast majority probably agree that they should be doing more planning, but have no idea why that knowledge hasn’t been translated into action, habit or practice. Apparently, the assumption is that somewhere out there, there are a legion of stupid people who have never heard the idea that “Planning is Key.” I have no idea who these people are or where they work… and I’ll bet you don’t know either.

The result of this mindless repetition of shallow tips is that potential clients assume that once they hear the words “time management” that the author/coach/professional organizer/trainer/consultant has nothing new to say on the topic. In their minds, they have already been there, done that and got the T-shirt. There is no need to chase down yet another list, article or book because the time spent reading is hardly worth the effort. Obviously, there is no need to pay your high fees to hear a bunch of stuff I already know. “Heck,” they think, “my kid could have written that Top 10 List of Time Management Tips that you are promoting!” (Some of us try to beat smart clients by making longer lists, but trust me… Top 10,001 Tips on Time Management is just a bigger mountain of fluff.)

As a result, clients show up on our radar already bored, believing that they know as much as the experts. And, they have the evidence in the abundance of tips bouncing around that proves their point.

At the bottom of it all is an incorrect mental model. Excellence in time management, or drastic reductions in time clutter don’t come from tips. Neither does world-class performance in piano, sprinting or painting. All the evidence says that it comes from hard practice.

Unfortunately, it’s far easier to write an article filled with trite tips than it is to delve into the well researched topic of hard practice. It’s also much easier to coach, train or organize someone using tips, shortcuts and tricks i.e. fluff.

The road less traveled is slow, harder to implement, un-sexy and uphill, but it’s the only thing that works. We need to challenge our clients with the truth, and trust that they are intelligent enough to be able to handle it.




Completed: The Institute for Challenging Disorganization Conference 2012

I just got back from the Chicago after presenting a session and a workshop at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) 2012 Conference. The ICD is an international organization of Professional Organizers, and while I was there, I presented “Baby Steps 101/201: Radically Reducing your Clients’ Time Clutter.” It was an affirming, expanding and amazing experience. More to come on the conference in future posts.

It’s All About the Myelin Sheathing

I just bumped into a video preview for The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. Its explores a familiar concept that we have explored at 2Time Labs – becoming good at time management takes focused practice in order to develop the habits that are required for even the smallest upgrades.

It’s exactly what we want our time cluttered clients to do. Once they have finished listening to us, we want them to go away and practice their skills until new habits emerge. A good coach/consultant is able to produce this result over and over, while a weak one does little more than give them access to ideas, either via the written or spoken word.

It’s the very opposite of expecting magical, instant results.

Myelin is that fatty substance that encloses neurons, and it thickens in the brain and spinal cord up when actions become habitual. Myelin thickens when actions are repeated thousands of times over and over again, ensuing that your coaching hasn’t been wasted.

Take a look at these 2 short videos for more.