No Time for 2 Hours of Time Management

I recently heard a complaint made by a trainer — no-one in their organization had enough time to take a 2 hour class in time management.

On one level it’s a bit of a joke… I remember hearing once that the very thing that we want to improve, keeps us from taking advantage of improvement opportunities.  For example, being “late to a class in procrastination” is an old chestnut that some resurrect now and again to knowing laughs.

On another level, it represents all that’s crazy about our hunger for instant results.  We refuse to believe in the slow, steady progress required for accomplishing results at a  world-class level in any discipline.  Instead, we spend time Googling for instant tips, magical shortcuts and cute tricks.  We want our improvements fast and easy, and we strenuously ignore messages to the contrary.

With respect to time management, we trick ourselves into thinking that it we buy the right gadget, or software package, then it will take care of everything for us.  If we get the right insight it will make all the difference in the world.  Unfortunately, we are wrong.  These tactics represent a basic misunderstanding about the ways that time management skills are improved, and the fact that they are made up of habits that take years to learn, and unlearn.

As Werner Erhard said, “understanding is the booby prize.”  So are the kinds of effortless insights that we love so much.  Instead, we should probably just pick one hard-to-learn common-sense habit and focus on it until we get to a half-decent standard, before moving on to learn another.  There’s more to gain from that kind of activity than any of the sexy or shiny stuff that seems so exciting at first blush.