Time Mastery, Part 1 of 3
Time Management is Stuck in the Industrial Era. Here’s How to Move Forward.
Time Management in the Industrial Era
Many books have been written on the topic of time management, but most of them are either stuck in the industrial age or promote a “one-size-fits-all” approach which does not take into account the specifics of your job or your behavioral styles.
In the industrial era, work had a clear beginning and end. You made widgets in a factory for a set amount of time. However, most of us today perform knowledge work or serve customers. In these jobs, each little task might have a beginning and an end, but in the big picture the work never ends.
Another assumption from the industrial era is that you don’t take work home with you, whereas knowledge workers are often required to be on a conference call at 8’o’clock in the evening or 5'o'clock in the morning: virtual collaboration from home. To separate our approach to time from the industrial era, we like to talk about “Time Mastery” instead of “Time Management.”
Time Mastery in the Knowledge Worker Era
Time Mastery is the art of becoming a skilled practitioner of what you do with your time. However, for time mastery to work in the global workspace, there are two concepts that have an impact on time mastery: cultural perspectives and behavioral styles.
Cultural Perspectives on Time
Our view of time, and how we use it is influenced to a great extent by the culture we come from.
In some cultures time is something that you have a lot of, with the time to sit down, to discuss, to hear stories, to dialogue. In other cultures, time is seen as a precious commodity which you never have enough of. Our colleagues in the United States say, “Time is money,” but our colleagues in the Middle East and Africa say, “You have the watches, but we have the time!”
Now, this is not necessarily a measure of how busy a person’s day is. Rather, it is about what they prioritize. Tasks vs People, Rules vs Relationships, Individuals or Community: each of these have a bearing on how people look at time.
Your Behavioral Style Influences Time Mastery
The other way that time is influenced is through your behavioral style, which influences what you choose to do with time, or what you enjoy doing with your time, and what we don't enjoy doing with our time.
If your behavioral style is task oriented, you like to take risks, and you are focused on “getting the job done,” then you would enjoy the task-oriented parts of working on a team, but you might not enjoy the socializing and relationship development aspects as much. (See our article on Relationships: Situational vs. Universal)
Or, if your behavioral style is analytical and detail-oriented, you might not enjoy investing your time in conceptual brainstorming and want to have tangible, verifiable facts on the table.
The issue of time can not be resolved by buying a one-size fits all book that will then help you get the job done: it needs to be tailored to your background culture, your behavioral styles, and the specific demands of your current job.
How to Build a Comprehensive Time Mastery Perspective
To start, we use behavioral assessment tools (DiSC, MBTI, and the like) and cultural tools (Three Colors, 12 Dimensions) to give you that deeper understanding of how you perceive time.
Then, when you are ready to move forward into time mastery, one of the most powerful tools that we have come across is Time Mastery from Inscape Publishing, which measures how you utilize time in twelve different areas, how important those areas are to your job, and which areas are the most significant for you. The next article in this series will go through each of these twelve areas in depth.
Until then, remember that in the knowledge worker’s age you should not try to control time. Instead become a skilled practitioner in the art of what you do with your time.