What could you do with 10% more time in your week?
Does your day sometimes feel like this?
Time Management is the hardy perennial of the training industry. The one-day open course we run at Crisp Professional Development has been a best-seller for ten years.
Depending upon your sources, the concept of time management dates back to the ancient Egyptians, Benjamin Franklin or Fredrick Taylor and Henry Ford in the early twentieth century. From an organisational perspective, it’s driver is productivity - doing more, being more efficient and more effective to get more outputs in a given period of time.
On a factory production line, one can easily see how these concepts gained ground (and let’s not forget Marx’s treatise on the division of labour - specialism drove productivity - whilst also turning human beings into machines, a ‘resource’ or ‘human capital’).
Whilst an organisational perspective on managing time remains (Time Management is a part of most management development programmes), there has been a shift to improving time management on a personal level too.
How does one ‘manage time’ with multiple jobs? What about creativity or a ‘thinking’ career like being an Actuary? How does one measure the outputs in advertising (through time sheets)?
A work / life balance (or as we prefer to call it, life balance), resilience and stress are all features of our desire to ‘manage time’. So what are we going to do with the minutes, hours, days and weeks that we have available to us?
All of these issues present themselves in coaching sessions. On a transactional level there are various tools to be employed - the important / urgent grid, email management, diary planning (and reducing the amount of meetings attended) – all of these can, and do, help.
But from a coaching perspective, a behavioural change perspective, we are interested in this question:
What exactly are you creating capacity for?
Most people can find 5-10% capacity in their working week, using some of the tools mentioned above. Using simple maths, on a 40 hour week, that’s 2.5 to 4 hours a week. That’s a half a day. Every week. But most people don’t... and the reason is motivation. They don’t know what they would do with that extra 10% of time, mostly because they would end up doing ‘more of the same’
... and if you are contracted to do 40 hours a week, then the personal incentive (not the organisational one) is even lower.
Indeed, this is behind the thinking for the 4-day week movement. Can we be as productive in 4 days, as in 5? In some instances, yes but in others, no we can't (The Wellcome Trust for instance dropped plans to implement it. See the link at the end of this article to read more).
When we delve deeper into creating capacity for our coaching clients, often these are the issues that emerge:
- It is not 40 hours that’s the problem, it's 50 and 60 hours (and the coaching introduction comes because the boss or organisation recognises that this is not desirable). Long hours are often a symptom of something deeper, such as:
- Imposter Syndrome
- An inability to let go of work (and therefore delegation, micromanagement issues)
- Fear of being a leader (if I’m not doing, what am I doing)
- ... and the belief that they have to ‘lead from the front’
Once we get under the skin of these factors and seek to raise awareness about the emotional drivers to create capacity - that is, what will you do with your extra 10% - the following responses emerge:
- Spend time with my family
- Leave work on time
- Go to the gym
- Undertake a course (in a foreign language for instance)
- Spend time developing my people
- Create thinking time
- Create time to lead properly
If the stimulus for change is great enough, people will find the capacity. The coach’s role is then to tap into the motivation, assist with overcoming barriers and ‘test’ what this new reality may look like.
If not, then the coach’s role is to raise awareness about the current situation. It may well be serving the client very well (Elon Musk chooses to work 120 hours a week apparently).
And what about those productivity tools? My favourite at the moment is the Personal Kanban.
Whatever you choose to day with that extra 10% you create for yourself, make sure you do something that you enjoy.
Interested in 1-2-1 or Team Coaching on creating more space in your week? Get in touch on 01392 409 198 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Wellcome Trust drops plans to trial a four day week
- Why Time Management is ruining our lives
- How to tackle your to do lists by Oliver Burkeman
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