The Myth of Time Management
By John Terry - The Black Belt Leader
Myths, fables, old wive's tales, legend, allegory, folklore, fantasy, delusion... They permeate and perpetuate in virtually every society throughout history. Some have their origins in truth (or were used to illustrate a truth), others were conjured up for a variety of reasons (fear, protection, ego, etc.) Still others are simply falsehoods perpetuated as truth from generation to generation.
A myth, by definition, is a widely held, but false, idea. And even though we know them to be false, we repeat them as if they were true. We often create our own myths, false beliefs, that limit our opportunities to see success and achieve amazing results in our lives.
One of the more popularly held false beliefs is that you can manage time. It's a myth. It's not true. Numerous books, blogs, and articles have been written about time management, supporting the falsehood that you can manage time. Lecturers, speakers, professors, and trainers have droned on ad-nauseam about the virtues of managing time in your business or personal life.
Truth is, you can't. Time can't be managed.
To manage something is to be in charge of, to administer, or to run. You're not in charge of time. You don't administer or run it. We didn't create time, we certainly don't control it. Time is a gift you and I are granted with each and every day.
Everyone is given the same 24 hours in a day. No one receives more or less. Try as hard as you want, you can't manipulate time, slowing it down or speeding it up, during the day. 24 hours in a day. That's it. That's all that you or I get.
While we can't manage time, we can manage what we DO with the time we've been allocated each day. So let's quit calling it time management, which it is not, and call it by what it is, which is self-management.
Yes, it's a leadership issue.
In 1955, Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote a humorous essay, introducing what we call today Parkinson's Law. Simply put, it says that work expands to fill the time allotted for it. If, for example, you've given a project to your Team with an 8-hour deadline for them to accomplish it, the Team will find a way to complete the project in the time allotted, even if the project could have been completed sooner.
Barring a motivating factor for people to be more efficient in how they lead themselves, they will remain inefficient and productivity will suffer. It's a challenge for anyone leading a Team (and themselves for that matter) to instill a High-Performance Mindset that is predicated on getting the most efficient output and obtaining the maximum result from the time and resources allotted to them.
It's a leadership issue that first starts with YOU, the leader. Modeling the high-performance work ethic and results you want to see come from your Team is not an option. Why?
Because people do what people see.
In my book, Black Belt Leadership 101, the 5th characteristic of a Black Belt Leader is being kinetic. Leaders are people of action. They not only set goals, they strive to exceed them. That requires they be proactive in leading themselves, continuing to grow themselves as leaders, constantly thinking into how they improve efficiencies and outcomes to drive better, faster, or more consistent results.
High-performance, results-focused leaders also invest time and resources into coaching and training their team in the area of self-management. In my book, I discuss the power of equipping those you are leading to bring about a better outcome. Equipping is not only giving them the tools and training they need but also instilling a high-performance mindset of exceeding expectations with excellence.
Otherwise, Parkinson's Law becomes the default norm in your life, and in your business. And when work expands to fill the time allotted, mediocrity sets in and limits your success.
No one ever won an award for being mediocre or average.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- People are capable of doing much more than they are doing right now. Challenge the status quo.
- People can usually do the same tasks they're doing now with the same quality result in less time. Challenge the status quo.
- Just because that's the way your organization's always done it doesn't mean it is the most efficient and effective way it can be done. Challenge the status quo.
- Conduct a Strengths Assessment of your Team to help you make sure you've got your team members in the most efficient positions in your business. Hire a leadership firm to help you with these assessments and thinking into the results.
- Incentivize your people to be more results-oriented, to increase their results without sacrificing quality. Challenge the status quo.
Remember, time can't be managed. What you do within the time you're allotted each day can be, and should be, not just managed but optimized. This is where leadership coaching and training can be invaluable.
Parkinson's Law is alive and well in your organization if you're not taking proactive steps to continually challenge its existence, and minimize it. It's limiting your productivity and your profitability. It's hampering your success.
People pay for results. The more results you can deliver, the more valuable you become.
How much success do you and your Team want to experience?
Stop letting Parkinson's Law hold you back.
Be a Black Belt Leader!