Others say: “Here is a long list of changes you need to make NOW”
Time Management 2.0 says: “Plan out your changes over time and implement them organically”
You might be like most people who never got past the first few chapters of one or more time management books or websites. You like the ideas or tips you got, but very quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of new stuff you discovered that had to be implemented all at once in order to make the system work.
The list of new habits was so long you were sure you couldn’t remember the whole thing, and you probably failed to make all the changes required. Some do try however, and are able to make a few changes for a week or two, until the crunch comes and, under pressure, they revert to their old habits.
Many of us end up feeling guilty at what we think is our lack of discipline, and label ourselves as procrastinators. Sometimes we even feel like failures, and this is particularly hard to take, given the initial excitement we felt when we first heard the ideas and liked them because they made sense.
This is all no fault of ours, however.
Individual habits are difficult to change, as we all know. New ones are hard to learn, and old ones stubbornly resist removal, no matter how destructive they might be. Yesterday a friend shared with me the fact that as she lay down in bed at 11:30pm to go to sleep, she noticed the light on her Blackberry was on, which led her to check her email and immediately fashion a reply. Afterwards, she knew that what she did was unproductive, but in the moment there was no choice – the habit was that strong.
The gurus, however, seem content to do the easy part — sharing the ideas, while leaving the hard part (implementation) up to us. And they don’t help the situation by not providing a pathway to actually effect the changes.
It’s no wonder the book is never finished.
In Time Management 2.0, the idea that a transformation can happen all at once is rejected, in favor of a new approach that happens to fit the latest research in habit change.
It turns out that habit changes are more effectively undertaken when they are broken into small steps, and when one works to perfect a single step at a time. In this way, a person builds confidence and skill gradually, or in other words “organically.” This does make things tricky for the gurus, however, as the sequence of habit to be changed differs from one person to another.
The solution is simple and puts the onus back on the user:
1. teach someone how to distinguish individual habit changes
2. show them how to sequence the changes over time, so that the flow from one change to another follows a natural progression
When you have these 2 skills your rate of success increases, which is exactly what the latest research predicts. Over time, you build a foundation of effective changes that builds confidence and skill at habit change.
In Time Management 2.0, your implementation is everything, and success isn’t measured by how cool the guru’s ideas are, but instead, by how many habits that you, the user, actually put into play. To make the transition stick, users need a third step, which will be covered in the next Edgy idea.
Edgy Idea #8 – Evolving your system is a function of your habit-changing supports
Others say: “Habit change is easy!”
Time Management 2.0 says: “Habit change is hard, but it can be made easier with the right support.”
Thankfully, the research done on changing habits is clear and helpful.
To be effective, you’d better have a great support system. This is a part of the reason that Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers work so well — they provide superior support systems.
In Time Management 2.0, successful implementation has everything to do with the quality of the support system that a user puts in place. Once again, however, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that you can find that would work for you.
The research is clear on this point – a support system that works for you, might create havoc for me. Instead of just doing what others do, you must design your own combination of social, electronic and expert support so that you make it hard to escape the new habit without getting some feedback that reminds you (or forces you) to get back on track.
Doing this well is no easy task, as you are essentially finding creative ways to work around your habitual tendencies. In time management, someone may have practiced certain habits for decades before deciding to make a change. These are difficult to dislodge because they have had lots of time to be burned into your neuromuscular memory, and you no longer conciously think about doing them – they just get done.
In Time Management 2.0 we assume that changing habits is difficult, and that crafting this kind of supportive environment is critical to success. People need help in learning how to build these supports, so that they can radically improve the odds of implementing what they learn.
Some people use paid coaches to help keep them on track. Others join a group in which they can help each other stay on top. Electronic reminders have become more popular as a way of automatically prompting oneself to take action at specific times. Tracking progress with metrics is also a very powerful method.
Recently I stumbled across a web service at www.sticck.com that allows you to place a bet on yourself using real, live cash — it’s a fascinating new way to support yourself in making changes.
Understanding which of the above options, among many, will work for you requires some experimentation and insight that few possess. Once you figure out which supports work, however, you have the tremendous ability to change any habit at will, and you’ll be able to tell the difference between changes you MUST make and those you’d like to make someday.
Here are the links to all the pages in this report: