The Problem with Time Management

grape-np_46ozorganic.jpgAn interesting article caught my eye the other day entitled “The Problem with Time Management.”

Given my own interests, I grabbed it up, thinking that I could finally retire the entire 2Time effort because, finally, someone else had come up with something better.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the problem with time management turns out to be a poor working relationship with one’s boss.

The author makes the case that most people are focusing on the wrong thing — i.e. their personal productivity — and should instead be trying to better align themselves with the implicit and explicit goals of their immediate manager.

Here’s a quote:

Time management programs usually focus on your personal productivity, analyzing how you choose to spend your time. This is all fine and dandy, but it misses one essential truth: In an organization that’s devoted to banging pots, you better bang pots or have a damn good reason for not banging them.

That’s why, after the PowerPoint presentation had ended and the trainer went home, you fell back into your old, unproductive rhythms — not because you didn’t agree with the time management expert’s analysis, but because you returned to normal life in the world of The Middle . . . which means doing what you think your boss wants you to do. Bang! Bang! Bang!

So, it turns out that time management problems have nothing to do with one’s habits, or de-facto time management system.

And probably there are religious roots also.  And I should think that our mothers are to blame too.

I don’t want to become too sarcastic, but it hardly seems that THE problem with time management can be traced back to this particular source.

It seems to me that the author has simply over-reached in his thinking, or in other words has collapsed two separate frames of thinking into one, producing a messy, illogical argument, but also a neat, snappy headline.

After all, it caught my attention, got my hopes up and got me to read through it twice (to make sure I wasn’t missing something…)

I do, however, think that one of the real problems with time management is the sin of over-reaching that I am accusing this particular writer of committing.

I also happen to have just read the book, “Bit Literacy,” by Mark Hurst, which as some great ideas in it that work for him.  Unfortunately, I found the same tendency to over-reach, and to prescribe too many specifics to too-broad an audience.

It’s a little like discovering that drinking Welsh’s grape juice is a healthy habit, and then recommending that everyone buy the same product and drink it in the same quantities.

The cure to over-reaching is deeper analysis. There is a more subtle reason why drinking Welsh’s can be found to be beneficial, and it could be true that the same benefit might come to a greater number from drinking plain water.

Getting to the more subtle reasons takes hard work, however, and it’s simply easier to talk and write about “Welsh’s” than it is “hydration.”

Unfortunately, when time management writers prescribe too much there is a cost to the reader, in that he/she tries to follow the prescription but finds themselves failing, and cannot discern the reasons why.  When they find themselves unable to enjoy Welsh’s, they end up giving up on hydration altogether.

For example:

“Everyone else seems to be using their Blackberry Pearl to improve their productivity… why can’t I?”

The answer lies not in the writers, however, but “in ourselves.”  Each of us must come to own the fact that we are using time management systems that were consciously or unconsciously designed by us, and we need to find ways to improve the design, or face being buried by the onslaught of digital information that Bit Literacy so rightly predicts.

Click here to be taken to the article: The Problem with Time Management

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