Post written by Francis Wade of the 2Time Management System blog.
Designing your own time management system? It’s right up there with discovering how to perform cold fusion, just harder.
Yet, this is what millions of working professionals have done around the world, without a single drop of help.
Perhaps they read a book here and an article there. They may have copied the stuff their first boss used to do because it worked for them. Some are just using the same approach they used in college to ace their exams. Others are constantly experimenting with different kinds of schedules, techniques and practices. We all hope to engineer a system that allows us to make the most out of the 24×7 hours we are granted each week to get things done, create what we can and have as much fun as we have minutes in the day.
The fact is, we each take our own approach, pieced together with little or no assistance. There are a few people who have adopted a productivity guru’s approach in total. However, the vast majority of us have been unable to become that disciplined, perhaps being that our lives are all unique, and most likely quite different from any of the gurus.
It’s a Lot Like Learning How to Paint…
A good start to building our own time management system is by learning the basics. While everyone can paint, and some people have taught themselves the basics, it’s pretty useful for the rest of us to know something about how painting “works.” After all, there is difference between painting in water colors vs. oils, and working with a canvas is not the same as working with paper.
Someone who is going to create a painted work of art is better off knowing the basics than they are being ignorant. After all, the beginner who mixes oil and water will probably make more of a mess than anything approaching art.
If we’re going to build our own time management systems, we need to know the basics too. Individual, unique time management systems designed for “one” are actually easy to design, once the basics, or fundamentals are respected. The problem is, we don’t know what they are! The instruction one would expect in this most widely-used professional ability is not about infusing the user with design skills. Instead, the emphasis is on adherence to a particular doctrine and a single set of practices. Here are 11 fundamentals that you can use to help build your own time management system.
Picasso might have taught an interesting workshop on how to paint using his style, but ultimately the real learning would come from being able to see the world in a unique way, finding a medium to express that point of view and gaining the skill to translate vision into art. That would turn his workshop students into artists in their own right, as opposed to facsimiles of the original: mini-Pablo’s.
There would be something to learn from the great man, but the key would be to take the principles that he knows, and translate them into an individual, implementable version for “me.” This method of
artistic expression would fit my life in all its dimensions.
The same goes for time management systems. What professionals all the world over need to know is that:
- It’s OK to design your own system (and it is to be expected)
- They need to find a way to learn the fundamental “design principles” so that they don’t make a mess of their unique design
- Their system will evolve over time if they pay attention to the technology available, the changing demands on their time, their evolving energy level, their choice of employment plus the changes that life brings as kids and parents get older.
The days of “one size fitting all” are over, and have been over for some time. By taking charge of their time in a street-savvy way, professionals declare themselves to be the “chief architects” of their time management systems. Once they do so, they can get to work on changing their personal practices steadily and purposely which, according to the latest research, is the best way to change a complex blend of habits.
This is a far cry from chasing down the shortcuts in the form of “lists of 1000 productivity tips,” and $500-new-fangled gadgets. They don’t replace the hard work and focused practice that Tiger Woods, Larry Bird and Chris Evert tell us is required for sustained improvement at professional levels.
The news is good — professionals who design their own systems cannot ultimately fail They can only learn from one iteration to the next something new about themselves, their idiosyncrasies and their environment and will gradually improve the quality of their design. Their very lives become an invented creation of their own making and they have the satisfaction of having started with one of their most precious resources — their time.
Francis Wade moved to Jamaica from Florida and designed his own time management system to deal with his new, unpredictable life. He has recently written a manifesto for ChangeThis.com on The New Time Management — Simply Focus on the Fundamentals and Toss Away the Tips.