An Interview by Andrea Sharb, Professional Organizer

Andrea_SharbThis week I was interviewed by Andrea Sharb, a professional organizer, CPO-CD and ACC, former CPA and someone who serves on the executive board of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.

We focused on “The Bill Book” book, and what makes it different from the other time management publications. It was a general interview, so it didn’t touch on the difference it makes for time advisers who want to use it with their clients – a separate topic that we’re tackling on a call next week. It’s bound to be interesting – hopefully we’ll come up with a few guidelines that  I can share soon.

Here’s the interview with Andrea on Bill’s Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure.

No, Our Clients Aren’t Beginners

I just finished reading yet another article on time management written by an author who has nothing new to say.

Yet another.

They are all over the place, apparently, willing to recycle old bromides and cliches to those who, they think, have never heard them before.

Case in point:
The Urgent-Important Matrix popularized (but not invented) by Stephen Covey has been repeated ad nauseum, but not a single writer I have read has pointed out how that information is supposed to be used in practice… “Keeping it in mind” does not qualify as a practice as it can neither be observed in practice nor measured.

Most of the amateur articles I have read have the exact same theme: “these habits work for me, so therefore they should work for you.” Even those authors who admit that their recommendations might not work for everyone, never go deeper than this and tell us why it won’t work, how to find aspects that do work, how to adapt these aspects into our life, etc. They leave it all up to the reader.

Perhaps the word “amateur” is a bit harsh, but these writers ignore a basic fact throwing new practices at at area in which people have ingrained habits hardly ever works. Yet, that’s what I read every day in time management articles from around the world.

As time advisers who are keen on developing our expertise, it’s our job to inform the world that there’s much more to the problem of time management. Treating our readers as if they have never thought about the subject is a big mistake.

They already know that time can’t be managed. They have already seen the Urgent-Important matrix. They have already been told to stop procrastinating. The help they actually ned – the stuff that makes the biggest difference – is not the stuff that amateurs write about. We need to demonstrate our knowledge and sophistication over and over again, and deepen our knowledge so that we help people solve difficult problems with extraordinary thinking.

When we take the same road as amateurs we have no right to be treated by our clients as special. A book I read about ten years ago by Alan Weiss – How to Establish a Unique Brand in the Consulting Profession – speaks eloquently to our need to provide expert value, especially in an area in which our clients already believe they know a thing or two.

Given the number of amateurs throwing around time management advice for beginners, our prospective clients have every right to ask themselves “Are you going to waste my time telling me stuff I already know?”

We need to bring them to the next level. As you probably know, Time Management 2.0 is my expression of unique value. What’s yours?

Research that Remains to be Done

The work we do here at 2Time Labs is driven by research. Due to the lack of time spent studying time management in academia, I often have to go searching in adjacent fields of study to come up with suitable evidence. It’s an ongoing process that’s often pretty tedious. What’s worse is that once a particular piece of research has been completed, more often than not the researcher moves on to something unrelated.

As a time adviser, it means that your field remains cluttered with bad ideas that just don’t work. For example, I just saw a video with a time management coach boasting that she was great at multi-tasking. Her 2 minute video has received 85,000 views on YouTube since September alone.

I have tried to bring some order to this unattractive state of affairs, and have described the hypotheses that underlie Time Management 2.0 in the Prezi presentation below. None of these hypotheses have been conclusively proven directly, but the major ideas have been supported by related research in other areas.

If all this academic/research talk appeals to you in any way, come join us over at a new group I have started on LinkedIn for academics and researchers:  Time Management for Academics and Researchers.

Take a look at the interactive presentation below – switch over the full screen viewing after starting it up, and use the arrow keys to move from one slide to another.