Friday, January 25, 2013
"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.
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.
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.
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 http://mytimedesign.com.