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Time Management is Dead and Here’s Why

It is time to let go of the traditional approach– time management –  to overcoming busyness and instead embrace the functioning of our brains to guide and inform the choices we make about planning and executing on our daily work.

Fact: if you Google “time management” your search will return at least 241 million results. Time management has been the strategy to improve your productivity and more efficiently utilize the 86,400 seconds we each have in a day. In corporate America, time management workshops are a staple in all training departments. “Take control of your time!”  “Get more done!” they promise. 

There are copious books, articles and blogs written on the subject, and based on the volume and pervasiveness of time management trainings, advice and strategies, it must be the solution to the busyness epidemic that is consuming everyone.  Right?

Wrong. If time management were the solution, wouldn’t we all by now be productive, efficient people living balanced, purpose-filled lives? You would think so, but we are not.  Today’s workers remain harried and stressed as workweeks stretch well past 60 hours and technology dissolves the boundaries between work and home.  

Time management simply does not work. Despite the popular literature, multitude of seminars, and Google searches lauding its benefits, which stem from the untested popular belief that poor allocation of time impairs performance, there is scant empirical research examining whether or not time management training indeed has a direct impact on performance.

 

Time Management Does Not Impact Productivity

Time management is built upon the premise that by teaching an individual how to more effectively manage his or her time, job performance will improve.  On the surface, this makes sense.  After all, the thinking goes, if we stop spending so much time distracted, doing other people’s jobs, and answering email after email after email, we’ll have more time for the important work.

Sure, but the truth is that time management is inherently limited in changing behavior in today’s multifaceted, dynamic, “always on” work environment. It fails to consider the broader context of our work and the need for a comprehensive overall strategy that is not myopically focused on increasing one’s perception of control of time and amassing time available to pursue activities. Time management does not impact productivity.

 

Work Strategies Impact Your Productivity

It is your work strategies that impact your productivity and enable you to move beyond “busy”.

Work strategies are a person’s approach to planning and allocating effort across goals, activities, and time periods. The way we approach our work is often unsystematic, rather than deliberate and rational, and even though it is unsystematic, patterns can be detected. It is these patterns, which are the result of an individual’s cognitive style, that when identified can provide strategies that actually work – strategies that liberate us from the hamster wheel of our busyness epidemic.

So, what is cognitive style? It is an individual’s unique preferences in perceiving and processing information to guide behavior. Research on cognitive styles has revealed two qualitatively different types:

1.) The first is commonly described by the terms analytical, deductive, rigorous and constrained;

2.) The second is commonly described as synthetic, inductive, expansive and unconstrained.

Do these sound familiar?  They are often the definitions used in our culture to describe left brain and right brain thinking. The left hemisphere and the right hemisphere of our brains are specialized for different modes of thought, and each individual’s tendencies along the continuum of right and left brain thinking are unique.

 

What is your work style? Take my Productivity Style Assessment® and determine your work style AND time management strategies that will work for you!

 

It is time to let go of the traditional approach– time management –  to overcoming busyness and instead embrace the functioning of our brains to guide and inform the choices we make about planning and executing on our daily work.

Let’s stop fighting nature, understand how our brains actually work, and then leverage our power to move beyond busy to a productive, engaged, purpose-filled life. It is time to get personal about our own productivity.

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