Friday, January 25, 2013

The new coaching for time management

Posted on Friday, January 25, 2013 by International Coach Federation

"Just give 'em a few tips and hope for the best."

When it comes to advising clients in the area of time management, this quote represents the approach that many coaches use. A few may go a step further and slip a book in their client's purse but the truth is, neither option works very well.

What can a coach do? There is very little time management research being conducted, and very few opportunities to be trained as a coach in this area. Furthermore, clients are often resistant, in their belief that time management skills are rudimentary and remedial.

Are coaches doomed to deliver weak advice?

At the 2012 Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) Conference I had the opportunity to share some solutions to this dilemma with over 170 professional organizers. They learned that there is indeed hope, but it comes from some very unlikely places.

1. Engineering
In the discipline of industrial engineering, students are taught to focus on the fictional "widget" as it makes its way through a factory. It's the smallest physical unit on which to focus one's attention for the purposes of analysis and improvement.

In time management, there's an equivalent: a "time demand," which is simply an individual commitment to complete an action in the future. Anything from a brainstorming session to a broken vase can trigger its creation, and coaches who can distinguish time demands for their clients can focus them on processing them in sophisticated ways that result in successful outcomes, one at a time.

2. Educational Theory
Andragogy, the study of adult learning, includes a key principle: a trainer must begin with the knowledge that an adult already possesses. Clients appreciate it when a coach starts with an analysis of their current methods, with a view to building on them. Good time management consulting starts with a sound analysis of the client's current skills, and doesn't make the mistake of forcing a client to adopt a raft of new measures from the start.

3. Coaching
The old style of teaching time management skills involved telling a client to follow a pre-set collection of practices. The new style uses a coaching approach, in which the client learns new skills, such as the ability to analyze their current skills. Once a client learns how to do an analysis, put together an improvement plan and assemble habit supports he/she is in a powerful place; able to take on future spikes in time demands, plus technology changes, without fear. They know that they can undertake their own upgrades whenever they want.

There are many further innovations to use in time management consulting beyond these three, and they reinforce the lesson. A coach needs to use the latest knowledge, even if it comes from unlikely sources, in order to make a profound impact on their client's success.

By Francis Wade. Francis is a pioneer in Time Management 2.0 at 2Time Labs, whose mission is to make time management easy for everyone, everywhere. He helps coaches, trainers and consultants work with time cluttered clients at


  1. Hello Francis,

    Interesting article. Thank you for sharing it via the ICF blog.

    Upfront I must divulge that I don't believe that time, in and of itself, can be managed. I tend to approach it more as a currency with an expiration period, you either use it or lose it. It's more of a focus of How you Invest your time. The things and activities that you choose to use your 'bank' of time to the purposes that best suit you and your needs/goals/wants. When coaching around this subject in this frame of reference I have found that my clients begin to approach their use of time in a more purposeful way for the things that are important to them.

    I'm curious to hear others' experience.



  2. I find that taking the concept of time out of the equation when setting goals and deciding to take action works best. Often considering how much time something will take or assessing ones available time, etc. leads to discouragement, pressure, and demoralization and often times to total abandonment of one’s important goals. A focus on efficiency and productivity often has the same effect - this misplaced focus more often than not results in a negative assessment of one's progress and obsession with what was 'not done' overshadows real progress being made and again leads to severe discouragement and often times total abandonment of the goal. I've found that what the article suggests 'concentrating and building on where the client is at the moment' and keeping the focus on what is accomplished , regardless of how small, will result in the moving of a mountain one tablespoon at a time. The compounding effect of small daily actions, even if it means a doubling or tripling of one's desired timeframe, actually yields real fruit and is a million times better than complete abandonment. A worthy goal is always worth pursuing regardless of time and/or current circumstances.

  3. Nice article! New learning from this article. Thanks for sharing that. :)

  4. I have always struggled with managing my time and over the years I have read a lot of time management lists and articles online, but this one helps me a lot.

    There are many time recording softwares that I’ve tried in our office. However, none of them could handle the at least one of the tasks we expected it to. But once i started to use Replicon software ( )for time management, my life has become easier and more productive too.


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