Ten years ago, I reviewed all our open courses. This involved reading the content, getting to know the trainers and looking at delegate feedback. I was struck by one of the reviews of our time management course, where the delegate commented that it had changed her life. She was sleeping better, was less stressed and much happier at work.
Naturally, we kept that course! It’s now been running (with updates, obviously) for 30 years.
Why is time management still a popular course for study, learning and debate?
Unless we are Dr Who (The Time Lord, no less) we cannot control time. It zips past us. The last hour is gone, never to return. The traditional way of looking at time management, therefore, is to manage ‘it’, with a view to improving our efficiency and effectiveness. Topics such as prioritisation, diary blocking, eradicating procrastination and delegation are all important components for study, and we know these are valued by our delegates and make a difference to their working lives.
For me, this is part one, the building block of using time management. Two recent books suggest how we can build on these foundations (we have incorporated their key messages into our courses).
Dan Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, demonstrates that time is not linear. When we do things matters a great deal to our effectiveness and our happiness. Whether we are a night owl, a lark or a ‘third bird’ will influence when we make decisions, when we plan meetings and how we make decisions. (Tip: avoid the 1pm to 3pm slump!). Therefore, if we can prioritise our tasks will regard to our When (and our energy) levels as well as whether it’s important and /or urgent, we stand a better chance of achieving our goals.
The second book, by Oliver Burkeman suggests we revisit these goals through a mindful approach to living and working. The title, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals refers to the time we have on this planet if we are fortunate enough to live to 80. Doesn’t sound like much to me. Therefore, rather than ‘using’ time, perhaps we should embrace the concept that we ‘are’ time. To be human is to appreciate our temporary nature, and therefore to value the choices we make. (Burkeman also has an interesting take on the classic prioritisation tale of the pebbles in the jar).
In short (and I thank you for reading this when your time is so precious), we believe that an approach to time management that is both practical and mindful is the way forward. It’s about life balance.
Shaun Durham, Crisp Professional Development