I’ve presented, facillated seminars, and written about time management. I’ve shared time management improvement activities as if they were one size fits all. However,  I’ve recently come to the conclusion I went about it wrong. Like most human beings I believe the majority of people are similar to me. Too often I base my expectations of others on how I would act. And although I know others process information differently than me, I don’t always apply that knowledge. Time management improvement activities training has been one of those areas where I haven’t stopped to consider the differences in the human brain.

What Time is it?

For more than 25 years my wife and I have miscommunicated about time. I have a strong time sense, I almost always know what hour it is, how long activities will take, and the best time to take action. For example, it’s easy for me to plan a meal with several dishes, and have them finished at the same time. On the other hand, I never know what direction it is. I was driving in Florida with my youngest daughter when she told me to turn east, confused, I asked which way was east, and she said, “Towards the ocean.” I wander the world in a lost daze most of the time. My point is, our minds are different, and that should be the first consideration before conducting any training. Time management improvement training isn’t the same for everyone.

We Don’t All Think Alike

There are people who think in images, others who excel at prioritizing, but flounder when attempting to juggle multiple processes (a common management task). Still others are verbal processors, like my oldest daughter and I, while others process information internally. The point is all of these thought behaviors affect how individuals relate to time. For some of us planning and the effective use of time is clear, almost effortless while for others it can be anguishing, torturous, or seem nearly impossible. If that’s the case, what can someone do to improve their time management?

Recognize Your Strengths and Weaknesses

I understand my challenge with directions; therefore I always travel with a GPS unit and my phone. If time management is a weakness find tools that help you manage your time. Use notifications, and try other tools such as these, 9 of the Best Time Management Tools.

You Don’t Have to Do it Alone

Ask for help. Effective time management is a talent. Not everyone has the same skills, thank goodness. For example, if you need a graphic design and you personally have trouble staying between the lines in an adult coloring book you wouldn’t hesitate to seek the help of a graphic designer, would you? Nor would you feel diminished by the idea that you had to go to someone and ask for help. But too often people with a poor sense of time or weak planning skills, regardless of how intelligent they are or what others talents they possess, believe that somehow it lessens them to ask for help with time management. It doesn’t.

Learn What Works for You

Time management skills and planning can be learned, but it’s different for everyone. For example, as I’ve stated, I have little or no innate sense of direction, but if I’ve been to a place before I’m good at remembering landmarks, so I focus on that. I just don’t know if they’re on the north or east side of the street. Try different methods of time management and learn what works for you, and then practice and practice some more.

 What Time Management Improvement Activities are Best for You?

Time management isn’t one size fits all, it’s not a checklist that can be passed from person-to-person for each to follow thus becoming perfect at time management. It doesn’t work that way. Each of us has individual talents and strengths as well as weaknesses. For individuals, time management can be a shortcoming or a competency. Regardless, time management skills can be improved. It begins with an understanding that we are all different and planning may or may not be your strength. Once one understands this, they can work on improving they’re time management skills. It just takes time.

If you’d like to read more on this topic, I recommend this Harvard Business Review article. A Way to Plan if You’re Bad at Planning.

Photo credit: Foter.com