OK, the title was a total bait and switch.

The truth is that there is no such thing as “best practices” for time management that are useful in any sense. Why? Everyone’s life is different. Everyone’s needs are different. Everyone’s resources, mental, physical, emotional, technological, are different, as are their constraints and limitations.

Some people need to manage a team of 20 individuals moving towards the launch of a new software product, and they may need expensive project management software to support  lots of dependencies. Other people just need to remember to take their car in for an oil change after 3000 miles.

You’d be amazed what you can get done with a bunch of index cards or a pad of notebook paper. No right or wrong, just different.

The Spawn of Poor Time Management

Too many people are poor managers of time and tasks because someone else, maybe a well-meaning parent or high school teacher or first boss, tried to push THEIR brilliant time management system, and it just didn’t fit. For me, it was seventh grade English class.

I had to create an outline for a composition using roman numerals and capital letters and all of that sort of nonsense, and it just didn’t take; that’s not how my mind works. As a result, rather than decide that the system didn’t fit, we decided we were unfit to use any sort of system and gave up…for good. then found ourselves condemned to missing deadlines, feeling overwhelmed, and general under-performance. Maybe it’s even an act of youthful rebellion against that ill-fitting system, that has since outgrown it’s usefulness (I’ll show YOU! I won’t be organized like you, Dad / Mrs. Johnson / Boss Man! Take that!) How many people have you heard say “I’m just not that organized” or “I’m the creative type, I don’t do time management.”  That’s their defense against youthful failures in the realm of time management. And if they’re happy with the way things are, that’s great and I’ve got nothing further to say to them on the topic. On the other hand, maybe you’d have more time to be creative if you weren’t always behind on deadlines or late to meetings or looking for your car keys. How does that sound?

Anyway, there is no ONE BEST Time Management System, just as there is no one best type of spouse or one best type of house or one best type of job. Just like one’s choice of mate, house and job, it’s highly personal. So, as much as I like GTD, and Covey, and Pomodoro (and I do, by the way, a lot), I can’t endorse them any more than I can recommend that everyone live downtown, work as software engineers, and marry tall blondes, it’s just not going to work for everyone, and the world would be boring as H*ll if it did.

The one thing I do recommend for everyone, but it is very meta- and far above the level of techniques or tools, is to adopt an attitude that 1.  the right Time Management System for you is out there, you just need to find it and refine it, and 2.  finding it and using it will help you to better live your values and achieve your dreams. If you fully own that attitude, you will find the tools and techniques that work for you…personally, and you will be better equipped to live your values and create an Extraordinary life!


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    David Kaiser, PhD, ACC, is Executive Coach to Extraordinary Leaders and CEO of Dark Matter Consulting (www.DarkMatterConsulting.com). Get a free white paper "Four Unusual Steps to Better Time Management" by clicking here: http://bit.ly/nSwkl4

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    One Response to “Time Management Best Practices”

    1. Lessa says:

      I realised a long time ago when I was sent on a time management course with work that I would not be able to apply anything in their “teachings” to my work and that time management is a person by person thing and you need to find your own approach.
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