Monday, October 02, 2006

Time Management in a Box

One insight that continually surprises me is how unique everyone's personal organization/time management system is. I think this is one of the core problems with the Franklin Covey paradigm and a large reason why the Getting Things Done approach is gaining ground so rapidly: there is no one system that works for everyone. FranklinCovey gets it but I believe it may be too late.

When I took the Franklin seminar in 1998 (before the merger with Covey Leadership) the idea was Franklin had worked out a top-to-bottom, comprehensive, time management system. And it worked great, if you worked it, which is the core problem.

The philosophy might say to document important conversations on your "Daily Record of Events" page and then index them monthly in order to have near-instant recall of important events. Well that works well and really doesn't take much time to implement. It's just that most people don't have the stomach for it. Many people and certain personality types would categorize indexing phone conversations or carrying a Mini-Me satellite planner around to capture To-Do's picked up when passing the boss at the water cooler about as likely as deep cleaning the garage. It's a personality thing. Some get it and do it effortlessly. Others don't.

I believe the popular time management systems and philosophies probably reflect and express in many ways the personalities of their creators. And those with similar personalities and world views will be drawn to the approaches that resonate with their own style.

I used to think that those who wouldn't adopt what I considered to be a superior system were either lazy and unwilling to "pay the price" or perhaps unenlightened (which I took in my youth to mean that I now had an obligation to explain the benefits and tactics in more detail). I now see it was not necessarily either. Look around at the successful people you know and chances are no two do things remotely the same. They probably communicate, manage, file, negotiate, etc. in their own way. And I've yet to meet someone successful who achieved their status by using a success profile or a "paint by the numers" seven step approach to the top.

Suffice it to say that time management comes in as many flavors, shapes, and sizes as do people and the more basic and fluid approach will have the broadest appeal. Rigid time management disiciplines tend to polarize your audience.

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