Did you know the subject of time management is one of the most often Googled terms in the field of professional development? Surely by now, with all this wonderful technology and the amount of personal planning systems available, you’d think we’d have solved this one.
Technology, as helpful as it can be to our everyday lives, doesn’t seem to be the answer. Author and teacher Robert McCracken wrote in 1960: “A 40-hour work week is now common, and automation and technology will probably reduce it within the lifetime of the rising generation to 25 to 30 hours.”
Even though McCracken was a wonderful author and teacher, I believe it would be fair to say, he was rather inaccurate in his prediction. From a time management perspective, technology can — if we’re not careful — just bring the next task, quicker. Sociologists call this the “boomerang” effect.
I’ve also noticed the problem with most personal planning systems is they’re actually not that “personal.” Time management gurus often want to sell their system and so what they offer as a “personal” system is really a one-size, one-fit solution.
Most approaches to time management distill into doing more things faster, and we’ve found at Newleaf Training and Development, that this is not sustainable.
We’ve discovered there are really two types of time management challenges — people and process. The goal with people is always to build trust and the goal with processes is to reduce time.
Trust is character (who we are) plus competence (what we do). As Stephen M.R. Covey said in his book, The Speed of Trust, “When trust is high, speed increases and costs decrease” — there’s an economic value of trust.
Think about someone you work with — someone you have a high level of trust with. I believe you’ll find when you run it through this filter, you have fewer time management issues with this person because the trust is so high.
Conversely think about someone at work — this could be your boss, a direct report, a peer or maybe a vendor or even a client, who you have a low level of trust with. It could be you doubt their character or you think they’re incompetent. Hey, they may think the same of you, and so the level of trust between you is low. Now think about your dealings with them. Fast or slow? I’d suggest everything slows down when you deal with them.
The antithesis of Covey’s model, though, must also true — when trust is low, speed decreases and costs increase. We have all sorts of time management challenges when the trust between people is low. “Facts” have to be double- and triple-checked; we have unnecessary meetings and even meetings about meetings. In low-trust relationships, there’s more email and more cc’ing of people and worse still, bcc’ing of others.
To recap, the goal with people is to build trust whereas the goal with processes is to reduce time. No one ever started a process or procedure thinking, “I hope this takes me as long as possible.”
In next week’s column, we will look at the process side of time management and specifically best practices when it comes to what we refer to as the five time thieves of (1) email (2) phones (3) interruptions (4) meetings and (5) procrastination.
If we run out of time in next week’s article, we could always postpone No. 5. (That was a joke by the way).
Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaf-ca.com).The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].