Helping Clients to Create New Habits

“Time management” has a bad rap. It’s often held up as the kind of training in which everything sounds good while the teacher is in the classroom, works for a few days and then disappears immediately after. Old behaviors re-assert themselves with a vengeance as the learner’s vision of being more productive are dashed.

As a helping professional you are devastated when this happens. You are, after all, only as successful as your clients new habits. If they fail to change, you have failed.

Your role, therefore, is to do more than provide new insights.

The fact that you can do so is rarely disputed. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule has been clarified by the authors of the original study in this article on Salon:

Third, Gladwell didn’t distinguish between the type of practice that the musicians in our study did — a very specific sort of practice referred to as “deliberate practice” which involves constantly pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort zone, following training activities designed by an expert to develop specific abilities, and using feedback to identify weaknesses and work on them — and any sort of activity that might be labeled “practice.

Note the emphasis (which most people overlook) on the role of the “expert” – someone who knows enough about the field to design “deliberate practice.” In their studies, the authors are adamant about the critical role this person plays.

But how does the expert help the learner develop new habits? According to a study from the University of London, most people get this completely wrong, including the developers of apps. In general, we believe that repetition, timed reminders and recording our progress are important for habit development. The study shows that they aren’t nearly as important as the at of designing events that trigger habitual behavior. I explain the findings in this article on my book’s website.

A time adviser who understands these distinctions can make the kind of long-lasting difference his/her clients desperately want.