Checking Your Clients’ Temporal IQ

One of the signs of a consultant’s maturity in time-based productivity is their shift away from giving one-size-fits-all advice.

However, that leaves them wondering how to systematize the analysis that’s needed to give a client practical, custom solutions.

In this article for the Jamaica Gleaner, I argued that the idea of someones’ Temporal IQ can be useful, but only if it’s based on actual visible behavior (rather than invisible personality or cultural traits.)

Why You Must Boost Your Temporal Intelligence Quotient

We may laugh along with our leaders about our personal productivity and constant overwhelm, but those who have worked in developed countries know that top organizations take time seriously. It’s no coincidence. Corporate success relies on individuals who execute brilliantly, never run late and don’t forget to do their tasks.

But here in Jamaica, we are perplexed. We want the crime-free, growth opportunities that occur in a strong economy built on high-performing companies. Yet, when pressured, we continually excuse the fact that we are individually slack. For example, almost no-one complained when every meeting of the 2017 Jamaican Parliament started late.

Instead, tardiness is met with a joke. The brave few who insist on timeliness are sidelined as “anal” as boards, teams, and cabinets, tolerate behaviors that keep us mediocre. When this vibe is amplified across society, contributing to mayhem and murder, we scratch our heads: “What’s wrong with THOSE people?”

Nothing.

They are simply echoing low standards we all indulge in, even when we know we’d have to give them up if we ever migrated to a developed country.

Imagine – a Jamaican?

A few years ago at a U.S. Conference, I listened in agony as the top organizer explained why they needed to check my credentials twice before inviting me to speak. “We just had to ask”, she shared, “is he for real? Who would imagine that someone in Jamaica knows something about time management?”

Unfortunately, we have collectively earned this suspicion. Our economy hasn’t grown since the 1960’s – a case study for stagnation, resistant even to above-average outside investment. In terms of our macro-productivity, we fight to stay a step above last place among countries in the hemisphere.

But the conference organizer was no economist. She was talking about the lack of “micro-productivity” visitors see upon landing…”Jamaica Time.” It’s why they book two different taxis from their hotel to the airport, “just in case.”

We can rescue our reputation with a focus on a locally defined Temporal Intelligence Quotient (TemQ). It would help us understand the extremes: the Bolt-like performance seen in the world’s best companies versus our sloppy, everyday mediocrity. It could also provide us with universal targets to aim for, whether we happen to be an individual workman, CEO or Supreme Court judge.

For example, our Prime Minister could declare an “Arrive on Time Week.” Such a challenge would push us to discover and practice industrial engineering techniques needed everywhere in our economy to meet Vision 2030 and the productivity problems it describes.

Until then, how can your company use TemQ right away? Here are three suggestions.

Step 1 – Establish Time Usage Outcomes

Professionals with high TemQ set clear intentions for each hour of the day. A high percentage of their plans are effective, which means that they:

– use mobile, digital planning tools.

– create a daily schedule which includes travel and recovery times.

– insert buffer periods for interruptions and other unexpected events.

– track their time usage to effect improvements.

By contrast, individuals with low TemQ are hapless creatures of random impulses and miscues. They are often seen as a very busy but produce little of value as they bounce from one fascinating, “shiny object” to another.

Step 2 – Highlight Errors in Task Execution

As a professional climbs the corporate ladder and adds more to-dos, their productivity is challenged in new ways. Each increase brings them closer to a recurrence of old symptoms they thought they had overcome, such as forgetting important commitments, seeing tasks too long or missing due dates.

The person with low TemQ won’t even notice these mild issues until they turn into crises. However, their counterparts remain eternally vigilant and see these early signs of trouble.

Step 3 – Develop Meta-Skills

High TemQ individuals don’t panic when such unwanted symptoms pop up. Instead, they realize that they need an upgrade and go about diagnosing their habits, practices, and apps in a systematic way. In other words, they demonstrate the meta-skills needed to build added capacity – the only approach which keeps up with a continuously increasing workload.

Unfortunately, low TemQ professionals get stuck and never improve, slipping into a mindset which partly explains our stagnant productivity. After all, if we aren’t actively expanding our individual TemQ, why should our companies thrive and our economy grow?

Ecuadoreans had a similar challenge, estimating that lateness costs them 4.3% of their GDP. In response, they launched a national tardiness campaign.

The good news is that, unlike our Intelligence Quotient (IQ), we can all easily begin to improve our TemQ with practical improvements. There’s no reason for us to continue joking about a matter which has sharp life-or-death consequences. It’s time to invest, on a personal level, in the productive Jamaica we want to become.

 

 

“Basic” Time Management Training? No such thing!

One of the dilemmas facing trainers, coaches, professional organizers and consultants in time management is that they try hard to be experts, only offering simple or basic training in the field. It’s often a wholehearted attempt to simplify things for their learners.

However, this attempt often backfires for reasons I explain in the article I wrote for the Jamaica Gleaner. It’s right in line with this quote from my book:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the article which was first published in the Jamaica Gleaner.

As a manager, you may advise a subordinate: “You need a basic time management program.” While this advice is probably well-intended, it turns out to be flawed. Today, a more nuanced picture has emerged.

Your intent might be pure. Many employees who once appeared to be capable and reliable have fallen into rough times. Even though they remain motivated, they look harried, are behind in their email and keep missing deadlines. Their reputation has taken a hit so you want to help.

But they still have to complete the new project you assigned them, in addition to their other responsibilities. None of it can be delegated—it’s all important.

Yet, their sense of overwhelm remains real. Maybe, you think, “They don’t understand the basics of time management.”

While this line of thinking sounds logical, it happens to be incorrect. Here are the reasons why.

  1. They are adults, not kids

In the world of adult learning, there’s a known fact: teaching adults differs from teaching children. Why? In most cases, it’s because the adult already possesses some capacity, prior practice, plus a motivation to solve everyday problems.

In this context, teaching Jamaicans Latin isn’t the same as teaching us patois. We all chafe and resist when someone tries to force us to learn something we think we already know.

With respect to time management, my local research shows that you and your employees are similar to other experienced adults around the world.

To illustrate: you were taught the concept of time at age eight or nine. Shortly after, you taught yourself how to create “time demands” – your own internal, individual commitments to complete actions in the future. You stored each one in memory to prevent it from being lost or forgotten.

Over time, you evolved, having learned the superior nature of paper or digital storage over brain cells. But regardless of your efficacy, you became a functioning adult with many successful time management habits. After all, they are responsible for positive results at school, work, and family.

However, you suspect that your subordinates have not kept up with the volume of their work and suffer from some weak habits or tools… the question is, “Which ones?” Only nuanced (not basic) training can help them uncover and close these gaps.

  1.      They need personal diagnostic skills

Instead of being instructed to engage in specific behaviours (the stuff of basic programmes) adults need to learn how to analyse and improve the habit patterns they are currently using: the same ones they have been honing since their teenage years.

In the second edition of my book, Perfect Time Based Productivity, I condensed the actions required to guide this transformation into four steps, known as ETaPS.

The first step is to E*valuate your current skills. Unlike other trivial behaviours, this takes more than completing a two-minute quiz from a magazine.

Unfortunately, empirical data from local classes reveals that the combination of habits, practices, and apps you employ today are complex. For example, everyone in your office may rely on Outlook, but there’s a unique way they use the program. Over time, you each developed routines which are idiosyncratic. Understanding them enough to make changes takes some study.

Therefore, a sound self-diagnosis starts with a deeper than average knowledge. With it, you can compare yourself against a typical Jamaican, or the very best in the world. This can be a sobering exercise, but the knowledge is priceless and produces a lifetime of steady changes. How fast should you expect to see real improvements?

  1. Instant, magical change won’t happen

A “basic” training which ignores the lingering effect of old behaviours sets learners up for failure. They go to work the next day thinking that everything will change right away.

This is impossible. It took a decade of practice to develop your current skills which don’t change overnight. To help, I recommend the remaining steps of the ETaPS formula.

–          Ta*rget new levels of accomplishment for each skill.

–          P*lan a timeline of changes to reach these new levels in months or years, taking baby steps.

–          S*upport each change so that single behaviours turn into habits. Draw on other people, reminders, and progress tracking to maintain momentum.

The idea is to break a complex, long-term transformation into small, manageable actions.

If you are a manager, help your subordinates see where a personalized plan of improvement provides a way to accomplish their goals. Then, show them how better time management could improve every part of their life:  relationships with significant others, children’s performance at school, work-life balance, health and engagement in their community and family.

Instead of trying to shoehorn them into one-size-fits-all “basic” training, give them the nuanced understanding they need to make consistent, fool-proof changes.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity, a keynote speaker and a management consultant. Missed a column? To receive a free download with articles from 2010-2017, send email to columns@fwconsulting.com

 

 

Coming Soon – The Audiobook version of Perfect Time-Based Productivity

This is just a heads up… I am nearing the final completion of the audio version of my book, Perfect Time-Based Productivity.

The graphic at left is a bit misleading as it shows the first edition cover, rather than the second.

It’s taken a lot longer than I thought to complete, but the end product should provide anyone who delivers training, coaching or consulting in time management with a powerful resource. Of course, it will be updated with all the recent ideas in the field, including my switch to using an auto-scheduler.

In addition, the French and Portuguese versions of the ebook are now available, with the Spanish version to be released soon.

 

Helping People Grow from Novice to Expert

One of the key tenets of the work here at 2Time Labs is that learners / coachees are not all made equal.

In other words, they vary from each other in important ways. A major factor is their skill in different behaviors.

I just recently released the second edition of Perfect Time-Based Productivity and once again, the following idea is core: adults have wildly different practices for managing time demands. (This fact is documented here.) And it’s not by accident…we are all self-taught.

In keeping with this philosophy, I came across a great article – When Do Novices Become Experts?

The author, David Didau, reinforces the idea that it’s folly to teach, coach or develop content for the Novice in the same way as the Expert. Take a look at the chart he has put together – it will change the way you think about helping clients improve their time-based productivity.

When Do Novices Become Experts

Is it better to schedule your life?

As a time adviser, you may be asked by your clients whether or not it’s better to schedule your life.

Probably the worst answer to give is a Yes or No. It will only take a few minutes for your coachee to Google the question and find lots of supporting evidence which contradicts your advice.

Instead, offer them a more nuanced answer… “It depends.” That’s the essence of the advice I gave to a similar Quora question.

Quora: Is it better to schedule your life?

How Do You Help Your Clients Achieve Elite Performance?

Over at the ScheduleU website, I just shared the first post in a series, based on the finding in a Linkedin study. It revealed that only 11% of professionals surveyed complete all the items on their daily To-Do List.

As a trainer/coach, you may instinctively know what this translates into – a lot of failures.

When a client or prospect approaches you with this problem, what is the best way for you to respond? In this opening article, I introduce the first idea of many to be shared in a series of posts.

By the time we are done with this topic, I hope to prove you some solid direction on how to help someone who has the will to be an elite performer in time-based productivity but lacks the necessary skill.

Here is the link to the article:

Becoming like the elite 11% who get all their tasks done each day

On Helping Your Client to Schedule Everything

Shortly after I finished Perfect Time-Based Productivity, I decided to offer the most busy, ambitious ones some special assistance.

They needed to master the technique of Total Task Scheduling and there was absolutely no help available to them to fulfill this goal. Other books, blogs and podcasts came out suggesting that the approach benefits people who have a lot of tasks to manage, but there was still little real training, coaching or programs.

It became a bit like the idea of Paradise. Many might be called, but few were actually being chosen. The failure rate seems to be ridiculously high.

Until now, perhaps. I recently wrote a post announcing the launch of Schedule U, an answer to this lack of help. At the moment, it’s the only place I know where real training in Total Task Scheduling is available.

But here, you tell me whether or not your clients would like you to help them with this skill! Click here.

What If Your Clients Want to Schedule Everything?

You may not be a Total Task Scheduler. But what about your clients?

I have an interesting conversation with a client recently about her unwillingness to become a Total Task Scheduler.

She had an interesting observation: even if she never uses the technique, she needs to offer it to her clients who decide that it’s something they want to adopt.

To that end, she is part of my Beta team for a new site I am developing – ScheduleU.org.

It’s a “School for Scheduling Everything” and you may want to understand where this effort is headed. visit the page to sign up for early notification and I will let you know when the site is available in Beta.

The Client’s Journey which Time Management Coaches Must Know

Vector Road Infographic Design Template. Elements are layered separately in vector file.Time management coaching is no easy avocation. Part of the confusion arises because coaches, consultants, professional organizers and trainers sometimes get stuck in a single model… or in the case of the diagram on the right, at a single level.

It’s an infographic lifted from an article I wrote on Medium: What Task Management App Developers Can Do to Catch Up with Pokemon Go.

I invite you to take a look as it explains the behaviors users undertake as they change their behavior to match the volume of time demands they must manage. While the article is targeted towards developers, it has powerful lessons for coaches.

One is that  a coach must strive to be engaging, and the best way to do so is understand the deep principles of gamification.

As you may imagine, a coach who understands these concepts can be very useful to their clients.