Lack of Time vs. Lack of Skill

Laptop Demo 1As time advisers, one of the essential transformations we must make for our trainees and clients is to shift them from thinking that they don’t have enough time, to the point where they realize they don’t have enough skill.

Many professionals get to the point early in their careers where they start to parrot the same complaint that everyone shares: “I don’t have enough time.” It’s an early warning sign that something is awry, but it’s not necessarily a cry for help.

At the very least it’s an indication of a mismatch – the client has more time demands flowing through their lives than they can manage. They are experiencing some of the symptoms they can’t readily address, such as a feeling of constant rushing or finding themselves unable to keep all their promises.

They don’t know what to do, so in their desperation they blame God / The Universe / Mother Nature for not granting them super-magical powers: an ability to turn 24 hours into 25.

Of course, deep down, they know that this is impossible, yet they still complain. As coaches, it’s important to understand why.

In the moment they indulge in the complaint, they are able to release some of their frustration. That’s a good feeling. However, if they persist then you should be suspicious. They might be using the complaint as a way to gain sympathy and agreement from others. They are running a scam in which they share negativity in order to get people on their side. After all, it’s better to feel miserable with others than it is to feel miserable alone.

It also feels good to have something/someone to blame. Unfortunately, it all carries with it a nasty undertone: they are actually avoiding responsibility. As a result they don’t take effective action and this renders them un-clientable and uncoachable.

There are a few cases in which I’m willing to work with a client on this particular way of being, but usually I simply let them go in the hope that they’ll come to see that there’s ultimately no benefit from continuing that vein.

While most of us have this complaint at some point in life, a few get to the point where we are ready to look beyond Mother Nature’s “shortcomings” to some lasting solutions. A client who is ready has an inkling that there’s something they are either not doing right, or could do better. They are usually unable to see it clearly on their own, but they have at least located the source of the solution.

Once they are ready to enter a learning relationship, I recommend that you deliver a powerful message near the start of your work with them: they aren’t doing anything “wrong.” It’s just that the life they are now living has outgrown the system they self-created to deal with all the demands on their time.

Now, it’s time to upgrade their skills and you can help them make the transition from their current system to one that is more suited to their current goals.

As a time adviser it’s important to know the difference between a prospect who is complaining, and avoiding responsibility and one who is ready to be a client.

Who is the main character in my book and why was he created?

I wanted Bill, the main character in my book, to deal with the problems and challenges that most of our clients face. These obstacles became a composite of the typical issues I hear about each day, and the solutions he tries to implement are the also the ones that each of us sees with our clients.

He wasn’t all that special – and he wouldn’t have gotten very far without the help of Andre and G, who are simply proxies for time advisers in the real world.

WHen you read the book, try to understand the world that our clients live in – especially those who are already pretty savvy and have tried the usual remedies without luck.

Click here to see the prior post in this series on YouTube, on why I decided to write a time management business fable or parable, rather than a regular “how-to” book.

Why Your Clients Need Metacognitive Learning

As a time adviser – a coach, consultant, trainer or professional organizer – it’s important that you use sophisticated and useful concepts that training and development experts routinely employ in their work.

One such idea is metacognition, which I use in this article written for the ASTD Learning and Development blog. The article is entitled Leaders of Time Management Need to be Taught Metacognitive Skills.

Helping Your Clients Achieve the Zero Inbox

One of the most powerful ideas that’s been around for some time is that of maintaining the minimum number of time demands in various Inbox, both physical and electronic. It’s a result that almost all our clients say they want.

However, the point is not to actually get or keep the Inbox empty, but instead to maintain the right philosophy, according to Merlin Mann, one of the early proponents of the idea. Check out his latest article – it will help you deal with clients who take things literally and can’t see past the wording of the goal.

On Chasing the Right “Zero”

How Do I Coach a Time Management Know-it-All?

Business TeamI sometimes get this question from time management advisers – “How do I help someone who knows everything in every time management book ever written?

It’s an intriguing question that can be addressed in complex ways – as long as you are living in the old world of time management advising.

You know the old world – conduct a search for the best system out there and struggle to apply to your life. That’s the approach our potential clients expect, and the one we have grown up with. It’s the reason why we have a challenge as advisers because the authors of the best books in the field don’t want us to use their stuff to make money for ourselves. many expressly forbid it, in fact.

That leaves us stuck, either using their stuff without permission, or being forced to create our own stuff… and who has the time or inclination to do that? (OK, I do…! But it’s taken 7 years…)

The new model offers us some relief. Our expertise doesn’t need to lie in knowing all the best systems out there, or even in having one of our own to get them to follow.  Instead, it can lie in our ability to help clients see their current way of operating so that the areas of weakness (and improvement) pop into view with such clarity that our clients are blown away.

By illuminating these areas of weakness, we can also help them see the impact on their lives of leaving these weak skills in a relatively under-developed state. When they take immediate action to close these gaps, they can then produce faster-than-ever gains.

The art and science of showing a client the holes, gaps and weak spots in their current systems is an ability that most coaches, consultants, professional organizers and trainers have used at some point, and can develop further. They don’t depend on this year’s hottest productivity book. Instead, they are more about our ability to listen in carefully to our client’s world in a way that no-one else can, before making suggestions that move them steadily forward.

No need to be intimidated – we already know how to do this!