A New Goal for Time Management

In the delivery of my different time management programs, I have come to realize that professionals might need a new way to think about success.

The very old way of thinking used to be that it was all about getting more stuff done.

On this blog I have maintained that it has to do with peace of mind and productivity.

Now, I am starting to think that it really has more to do with closing the frustration gap between reality and expectations.

What this means is quite simple.  It arises when a professional has a picture in his mind of how well he should be managing his time, and then finds evidence that there is a mismatch between the two.  It’s a frequent feeling that people complain about all the time.

As an example, here are a few expectations that I have of myself and my time management system:

– my inbox should never have more than 5 items unless I am processing its contents

– I should not be late for any appointment, unless an emergency arises

– I should return all phone calls and emails that I deem to be important

– I should never fall into the habit of saying that “I need more time,” or “don’t have enough time”

These expectations are a few that are more or less in line with a full Orange Belt in time management, working towards a Green.

At the moment, I can say that my time management system delivers on these particular expectations, so I don’t have that feeling of frustration. This has not come easily, as I have been taking an intense look at my time management system for the past 3 years, taught courses and written articles and ebooks, all the while using my own example as a case study.

There are however, some Green Belt practices that I have no idea how to execute, and at least one of them  requires software that apparently has not been invented.  In this case, I don’t have the expectation of operating as a full Green Belt, simply because I can’t.

There are some, I know, who are completely satisfied with whatever belt they have, and given that most people operate at a White Belt level, most of them are not too effective, but have found a way to alter their expectations so that they are satisfied with lows levels of productivity.

In the 2Time approach to time management, I have taken the following approach:

1. to help professionals to change their expectations to realistic ones

2. to show professionals how to improve their skills so that they can accomplish their goals.

For example, a user who wished to “get everything done” learns early on that that goal is an impossible one.  Not even small children get everything done, simply because their mind is creating more stuff to do than a body can do in 24 hours.

As another example, a user who gets promoted to management based on solid performance in their prior job, may very quickly discover that  the bar has been raised, and that in order to keep the job, they need to raise their own expectations of themselves. However, they often find that that’s easier said than done, as they don’t know how to improve their time management skills to the point where they can operate as a manager.  At this point, many take a course of read a book in search of improvement techniques.

In both examples, the user takes positive action to reduce the gap, and take away the frustration.

What I like about this “gap” is that it’s entirely user-dependent, and unique to each person.

It’s also somewhat empirical,  as there are a certain number of times in the day when a user experiences the gap, and the frustration from having it unfilled.  They either have a thought or utter a statement that reveals their true feelings.

Hopefully, this new way of thinking about the goal of time management systems might add a new dimension that captures the feeling that people want to have about themselves, and what they have created to get by each day.

I’d love to  hear what you think of this particular line of reasoning!