Now and then I ask myself the very same question.
Why bother to offer a new approach to time management?
There are many approaches out there, and it's not as if they are doing an awful job for those who use them. Some of the time management systems that I have heard about are:
- Getting Things Done (GTD®)
- Covey's 7 Habits
- Do It Tomorrow
- The Mission Control Productivity System
- Zen to Done
- GTD Lite
- The Pomodoro Technique
- Waking Up Productive
- The Now Habit
- Take Back Your Life
- Getting Organized
- Time of Your Life
- The Personal Efficiency Program
... and many, many others.
There are also a growing number of productivity blogs and websites that offer thousands of tips that are all intended to help you improve your time management skills.
There is simply no shortage of ideas.
So.... why? Why bother?
What really got me thinking was my own experience. While all these systems were good in some areas, there was none that was perfect, and they certainly didn't encourage their users to experiment with a bunch of different approaches before making a system of their own (sometimes called a "mash-up.")
In other words, they were closed, rather than open systems. Kinda like Microsoft and Apple vs. anything Open-Source.
The problem was that you and I were probably treating our systems as if they were open-source -- building our own individual "mash-ups" by taking a little bit from here and there to craft something that worked for us, but probably wouldn't work for anyone else.
I wouldn't recommend, for example, that anyone take my personal time management system and use it for themselves. Today, in October 2010, it's heavily influenced by my living in Kingston, Jamaica.
If you don't live in Kingston, Jamaica then you shouldn't think about copying what I do!!!!
Instead.... you should keep on doing what you're doing... your own thing... forever... and never let it become named or labeled by anyone else.
I'm passionate about every professional taking control of their current time management skills and working them into a system that fits their lifestyle, regardless of where the original ideas may have come from.
Maybe you're like me in this respect and just something that isn't based on blatant lies, and at the end of the day.... works.
After blogging about this topic for four years in over 500 posts,and delivered ideas to thousands of people in live and online programs, receiving lots of feedback in the process, I have learned a thing of two about what I call "Time Management 2.0." Here the things that people have told me that they want:
Want #1: Respect
I learned that everyone has a time management system... something they are currently using. It might not be written down anywhere, it might not have a name and they might hesitate to call it a "system" but I have realized that the habits, practices and rituals they use each day do, indeed, accomplish results.
Whatever system you are using deserves some respect for doing its job of bringing you successfully to this moment in time.
I made a mistake early on by not realizing that everyone has a system when I focused on helping them to create their own - as if their current system didn't exist. Luckily I got some feedback to say that I needed to understand where most people are, and that helped me to relax as it's helped me be much more effective as a coach.
Want #2: Successful, Natural Upgrades
Most people who attempt to implement a new time management system fail. The reason is simple: none of them starts with what they know and builds on what they are currently using.
They assume that people just need to know the destination -- the new set of habits described in the new system -- and can simply ignore the habits, practices and rituals they have now.
When people try to implement entirely new systems all at once, they end up having a tough time, because they try to overlay a whole new system of habits on top of their own.
Guess what happens?
They try to change too many habits all at once, and end up reverting to their former system at the first sign of trouble.
While the change-it-all-at-once approach might work for some, for most it's a disaster. A much better idea is to upgrade slowly, or only as quickly as one's current habit patterns can be effectively and permanently changed.
In productivity programs I taught several years ago I didn't realize this fact, and saw many well-intentioned people who loved the ideas flounder in trying to do too much too quickly.
Want #3: Acceptance
At first, when I created a way to help people improve their skills using a belt system, I thought that everyone would be interested in becoming what I called a Black Belt in time management. I came up with a detailed pathway to get there by upgrading 11 fundamental skills, one at a time.
Somewhere along the way I realized that my mother (who is 70) has no need for a Black Belt in time management. She just had her hip replaced, and at this stage in her life she isn't looking for the kind of skills that a Black Belt employs.
I also met a smart guy at a University here in Jamaica who stopped Karate after getting his Brown Belt at age 11. He moved to a different city, and had no further opportunity to improve his skills... and he told me that he was happy with what he had accomplished, and had no need to go any further at this time.
Not everyone needs to improve their time management system -- it all depends on whether or not what they have is giving them the peace of mind they want in their life right now.
Of course, I didn't realize any of this when I started my blog. It's been one discovery after another!
Want #4: After-Learning Support
I was so disappointed. After my live 2 day NewHabits workshops conducted here in the Caribbean were over, some students were reverting to their old habits, just as they did after any other time management program.
I dug a LOT deeper and started to learn a lot about the reasons why people change habits or don't change habits, even when their motivation is as high as it can be. I started working on my own habits, using a simple list of habits that I checked off each day.
After a year of tracking my habits I can tell you -- habits are HARD to change. New ones are hard to learn. Old ones are hard to break.
Without help it's difficult.
The help may take many forms, and the challenge is that people require different systems of support. For example I may like to work in a virtual team, but you may prefer automated reminders and a live coach.
Creating an optimal, individual set of supports is critical to success. I offered a handful of supports in early programs, but I learned that only a few students found it useful. I gave up when I realized that I couldn't design the perfect support system for each person -- it had to be designed by them according to their needs, and what they needed was some help in putting it together.
So here's "Why..."
Why MyTimeDesign 2.0.Professional?
It's all about satisfying the need that you and other working professionals have to possess time management skills that meet your goals, regardless of what they are.
Some want to implement new practices that help them take their system to the next level.
Some want to gain an understanding of the time management system they currently use, so that they can discover how it really works for the first time. (Many don't know that their current skills actually do make up a system.)
Some are going through a change in their lives (job, relationships, money, family) in which they need new skills to cope with new demands.
Some don't want to change anything at all.
Any of these frames of mind are cool -- my intention is to find ways to empower you and other people wherever you are at any moment in time.
I don't want to replace the already existing commercial systems that exist in books programs and websites.
Instead, I want to do something different. Instead of handing out interesting recipes... I want to teach you how to cook.
Once you know how to cook, you can pick up any recipe you want (or two, or three) and create a hell of an individual recipe that works for you.
A mash-up. But I can't help you with your cooking.
I can help you to realize a time management mash-up or system, that is your signature tool for leading a successful life. When you do that, I'll know I've been successful, and it's the reason that I'm developing MyTimeDesign 2.0.
And it's also why I love this quote from The Tao by Lao Tzu:
Go to the people
Learn from them
Start with what they know
Build on what they have
But of the best teachers
When their work is done
Their task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.
P.S. As you read this blog, I'd love to hear what else you might want that I haven't addressed (apart from "instant magical solutions that require no work whatsoever"... I'm all out of those!)
P.P.S. Some readers have been bugging me about hearing details quickly. If you'd like to get on the Early Notification list (the one that will get _all_ the advanced information about the program and the early bird discounts) then add your name to the list at the "Early" page by clicking here.