How Do I Coach a Time Management Know-it-All?

Business TeamI sometimes get this question from time management advisers – “How do I help someone who knows everything in every time management book ever written?

It’s an intriguing question that can be addressed in complex ways – as long as you are living in the old world of time management advising.

You know the old world – conduct a search for the best system out there and struggle to apply to your life. That’s the approach our potential clients expect, and the one we have grown up with. It’s the reason why we have a challenge as advisers because the authors of the best books in the field don’t want us to use their stuff to make money for ourselves. many expressly forbid it, in fact.

That leaves us stuck, either using their stuff without permission, or being forced to create our own stuff… and who has the time or inclination to do that? (OK, I do…! But it’s taken 7 years…)

The new model offers us some relief. Our expertise doesn’t need to lie in knowing all the best systems out there, or even in having one of our own to get them to follow.  Instead, it can lie in our ability to help clients see their current way of operating so that the areas of weakness (and improvement) pop into view with such clarity that our clients are blown away.

By illuminating these areas of weakness, we can also help them see the impact on their lives of leaving these weak skills in a relatively under-developed state. When they take immediate action to close these gaps, they can then produce faster-than-ever gains.

The art and science of showing a client the holes, gaps and weak spots in their current systems is an ability that most coaches, consultants, professional organizers and trainers have used at some point, and can develop further. They don’t depend on this year’s hottest productivity book. Instead, they are more about our ability to listen in carefully to our client’s world in a way that no-one else can, before making suggestions that move them steadily forward.

No need to be intimidated – we already know how to do this!

Will I See You At ASTD 2013?

As a time management adviser, you probably know all about the ASTD and its reputation as the largest training and development organization in the world.

Well, the good news is that I’ll be presenting at their conference in Dallas on May 20th 2013, and I’m hoping to see more than one or two time management coaches, consultants, professional organizers and trainers who follow MyTimeDesign. I hope to see, and finally meet, a LOT of you!

It should be a great session that focuses on behavior change principles using time management as the case study. I’m very excited about presenting the ideas that you see each day here on this site to a wider audience and getting some quality feedback in larger numbers than ever before.

Click here for more details:

How to Stop Failing at Behavior Change Training:

The Case of Time Management

Teaching Scheduling Skills to Clients

It’s rare to have a time management client who possesses high developed scheduling skills.

More often than not, clients come to use with lots of lists, but haven’t learned how to use their calendars to accomplish big goals. This video that is a response to the popular Randy Pausch lecture on YouTube talks about the need to learn this important skill. It’s one important way to get better at time management.

Being Careful as a Trainer

People who pick up a book or program in time management are often quick to claim it as their guiding light. They’ll tell you that “they are following the ACME System of Time Management by W.E. Coyote” with a sense of pride.

As a trainer, what you know is that they are actually fooling themselves.

Watch the video below to find out why they need to own their time management system, then come back to continue reading.

As a trainer, it’s tough to help them see the light, especially when they attribute superhuman tendencies to the author/creator of the approach they “use.”

But you should persevere, so that when the guru finally runs out of steam, they don’t simply go looking for a new one. Instead, they should return their attention to their current habits, practices and rituals and start their new journey of improvement with an new understanding of how they work.

Below the video on YouTube, I added the following description.

People get confused when they attempt to improve their time management skills. They pick up a book, or take a program that lays out a set of practices for them to follow, and then they tell others that they are “using that system.”They more often fail than not because of how difficult it is to adopt anyone else’s habit pattern. This is especially true for complex systems like the ones we use to manage our time, and not so true for simple ones like brushing our teeth each morning.

It’s a much better idea to tell the truth – you aren’t “using” someone else’ system, you are using your own. You may borrow ideas, concepts and teaching from someone else, but at the end of the day, and long after the book or program has lost its relevance, you’ll be using YOUR program.

You need to appreciate the fact discovered by recent research: we ALL have developed our own intricate time management systems by the time we reach our early twenties (if we are fully functioning adults.) When we don’t understand this, we ignore an important rule of andragogy (the science of adult learning): adults come to a learning opportunity with some skills already in place. They are not like kids, in other words, who come to school like blank slates.

Given that you have your own system when you pick up a book or program, you need to be careful – and change it slowly, or else you’ll have a very hard time trying to put in place some habits that someone else uses.

So – Is it my productivity system or theirs? It’s YOURS!


On Coaching Project Managers and Their Teams

My research website for Time Management 2.0, 2Time Labs, recently received  an honor – it was nominated as one of the top Project Management websites in the category of time management.

It strengthened my desire to do further research in the area of project management as a way of rooting out one of the causes of project failure: poor individual time management skills by team members.

What I’m interested in knowing is whether or not there is anyone who specializes in working on the time management skills of individual project team members. I’d love to learn a thing or two from consultants or coaches who work with teams in this specialty.

Use this link to send me a message: