Magazine article Training & Development Journal

The New Time Management

Magazine article Training & Development Journal

The New Time Management

Article excerpt

The New Time Management

Not time management again! We've been through all that before. There's nothing new there. And we certainly don't want to take a look at another time management course. Don't you have anything more interesting?"

I can't count the number of times I've heard these words, spoken or unspoken, explicitly stated or merely implied. Time management, of course, has an important, established placed in training programs. "Everyone" has read Alan Lakein's How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life. And that same "everyone" is quite certain there's not much new in the area of time management. Yet I believe the very opposit to be true. I believe that

* a new approach to time management has been developing over the last several years;

* this new approach reflects several significant changes taking place in the world of work;

* this approach is having a significant impact on productivity and the quality of worklife in many organizations.

Out with the old

The old approach to time management is best represented by Lakein's book and by R. Alec Mackenzie's The Time Trap. Together, these two books established the basic concerns of time management: control and planning, setting priorities and delegating, overcoming interruptions and procrastination. These issues remain as important and relevant today as they were almost 15 years ago when Lakein and Mackenzie wrote about them. Underneath these concerns lie two essentials that form the heart of the traditional approach to time management: goal setting and the "to-do" list. It is within these two essentials, however, that the new time management differs most strikingly.

Lakein, perhaps even more than Mackenzie, emphasizes the importance of goal setting with his three "lifetime questions": "What are my lifetime goals?", "How would I like to spend the next three years?", and "If I knew now I would be struck dead by lightning six months from today, how would I live until then?" Our answers to these three questions eventually result in a prioritized lifetimes goals statement. The vehicle then chosen to implement these goals is the daily to-do list.

For Lakein, this list contains "everything that has high priority today and might not get done without special attention" and includes important activities from our long-term goals list. Similarly, Mackenzie's to-do list contains only the most important tasks that need to be addressed on a given day, numbered in order of importance.

Lakein and Mackenzie together articulate a sound enough approach to time management, one that has dominated the field. Yet it is becoming clear that this approach doesn't go far enough. Goals are a reflection of values, which are not addressed by traditional time management. And the majority of to-do lists, if they are made at all, contain mostly trivia.

In with the new

The new time management is best represented by three books: Dru Scott's How To Put More Time in Your Life, Stephanie Winston's The Organized Executive, and Richard Winwood's Excellence through Time Management. These books essentially complete the work begun by Lakein and Mackenzie.

The new time management continues to stress the importance of such traditional time management concerns as control, planning, and priotitizing. Instead of beginning with goal setting, however, the new time management begins with values clarification. This is the first major distinction between this approach and more traditional approaches. Of course, responses to any of Lakein's three lifetime questions infer something about one's personal values. But the new time management deals more directly with the difficult question of personal values.

Traditional time management, Scott writes, "focuses on accomplishments," not on "how you live your life. . . . Dozens of people I've talked to have accomplished great things, but they're unhappy with their general lifestyles. …

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