It’s funny, but over the past week or so I have been picking up the original threads of thought that inspired me to think that there was a better way to think about time management.
The first indication occurred when I read the book “Work the System” by Sam Carpenter. I discovered how much I had been influenced by Michael Gerber’s books, starting with “The e-Myth Revisited.”
The second indication came as I started to prepare for my next triathlon, which is some four months away. I am only a proficient swimmer because of the work I have done over the years on my freestyle stroke, based on the work of Terry Laughlin at Total Immersion.
I picked up his book for triathlon swimmers once again, so that I can begin to work on my stroke and efficiency. I was quite surprised to see how much of his ideas had seeped into my subconscious, at a few levels.
One level is related to the actual content of the book, which has presents a whole new way of thinking about swimming that flies in the faces of conventional wisdom.
The other level has to do with the emphasis on continuous practice, in order to eke out small gains and improvements over time. Terry encourages swimmers to change their thinking from “doing laps,” and instead to think about their time in the water as “practice time” — an opportunity to ingrain into their bodies a specific new movement, position or tweak. Each session must have a plan, and the swimmer shouldn’t end the session without being a better swimmer in some small way.
This focus on developing small, seemingly inconsequential habits is the key to becoming a better swimmer who is more streamlined in the water, uses less energy and therefore performs better on the bike and the run, which together take up much more time than the swim.
My hope in developing this blog, and the thinking behind 2Time is that users will come to see that it’s possible to improve their time management skills by taking a similar approach.
If they are able to figure out the simple changes in practice that are needed to happen, then it’s possible to make them a reality with a focus on changing small habits, or practices.
A top swimmer cannot escape the requirement of ongoing practice, if they hope to improve. A professional is no different. It’s crazy to think that there is some way to implement new habits of time management without practicing them over and over again until they become second nature, and greater productivity and peace of mind is the result.
The one thing that I wish I could recommend to each professional is a way to practice the skills each day.
Going to the pool to work out before a competition is obviously the time that a swimmer sets aside to get better.
Where or what is the equivalent time for a professional?
When do they get the opportunity each day to practice new skills?
What would be an easy to structure to add to one’s life in order to try out some new approaches?
I have an idea that there could be time set aside each day to do the following:
1. look back at the previous day to see what can be learned
2. decide which new habit to implement that day
3. set up any supports that are required to ensure that the new habit is fully supported
This practice could be repeated each day, until a new habit has become second nature, and does not require conscious attention.
This is a pretty simple example, but as far as I can tell, it’s the only way to ensure that the time is spent actually practicing the new habit.
Now that I look at it, I realize that I have been using this process each day myself for over a year, but my focus has been on building my scaffold for the day.
While there are a few gifted swimmers who can immediately implement a new suggestion, most need to invest hours of pool time to gain a fraction of a second here, and a fraction of a second there. Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps spend months of practice to do just that, and they are perhaps the most gifted athletes of all in their disciplines.
The same applies to working professionals. A few might be able to instantly apply the “top 100 tips,” but for most there is a yawning gap between understanding any given tip and turning it into a new habit.
Thanks to Terry Laughlin for not just making it clear that there is only one way to get better, but also for making the path clear for those (like me) that look at Phelps and have no idea, or the wrong idea, of how to climb the learning curve.
I hope this blog, and the products I produce, do the same.