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David Lumley

Revolution Learning and Development Ltd


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Time Management Training – Delegate Challenges


I've recently seen in increase in the amount of time management courses we're delivering and of course each delegate has their own set of reasons why they attend.

I'm seeing a trend in the challenges that delegates raise in these courses about their struggles when it comes to managing time (or indeed themselves around time). Although we seemed to have looked at workarounds and ideas, but I really want to see if there are other ways. So,  I wanted to ask:

A) If you deliver time management workshops, do you hear the same challenges listed below?

B)If so, how do you respond/help?

C)Generally, how could anyone who has the same challenges help themselves/their organisations?

Some of the challenges:

1. It's not that I can't manage my time. I know what I should be doing but I just have too much work top cope with.

2. Some people in my department have left and not been replaced, so I'm picking up all of their work

3. I'm the only person in the business who can do my tasks. I've got no-one to delegate to

4) I can't delegate as everyone else is just as busy as me.

Maybe there are more, it would be good to hear what other challenges you face from delegates on Time Management workshops


4 Responses

  1. Time Management Challenges

    Hi David,

    That's great feedback! Proof that Time Management is a systemic problem, rather than an individual one. Here's a great article from McKinsey:

    Remember when we were going to have to adjust to the "New Normal" ? I don't think people really have – it's Business As Usual, so they're even more time crunched than they were 5 years ago. 

    They need to free up enough time for them to fix the root causes in the system. Get some breathing space to improve processes, identify real value work and drop things that can't actually be done any more, or automate them. They can't do that when they're fire fighting full time.

    That said, it's not hopeless. It can start with one person willing to point out that things have to change, with some tools to make a start.

    Tough, though.





  2. Time management?

    Hi David,

    I have run many, many time management courses over the years and have seen the same challenges as you have. In my experience most people who attend time management courses (and also the managers who ask them to attend) expect the trainer to magically create an additional 2-3 hours in their day! Much as I would like to sprinkle the magic training dust, it doesn't really work!

    More recently, I have begun coaching individuals and this topic regularly comes up with my coaching clients too.

    Interestingly, with coaching I have more time (!) to talk to individuals about their specific issues and goals, and more often than not, it comes down to their inability to say 'No' when someone asks them to do something. Have you found this too?

    This often transpires to be more of an assertiveness issue or an inability to have a conversation about priorities with their manager. We spend time looking for ways that the client can say no without damaging the relationship with the particular person or planning a conversation with their line manager to prioritise work so that they can meet deadlines and achieve their goals.]

    If you don't have the opportunity to discuss this on a 1:1 basis with your delegates, a group discussion around the same topic can also be useful with an opportunity to plan a conversation with a partner/colleague.


  3. Great Thoughts

    Tony – you're dead right about people waking up to 'the new normal'. I see and hear this so much, not just in time management courses but also in the generic leadership skills courses that we run to.

    When I speak to people in these workshops I plant the idea of one person being able to start that chain reaction of change. It just takes one person to show that doing things differently can have a huge impact.  But…

    We end up in many cases with Sophie's situation where they know that something has to change but the confidence factor isn't there to challenge it. In some cases I've seen, isn't the fact they don't have the confidence but more a fear of reprimand for speaking out – which there should never be. But I do agree that it is in many cases an assertiveness issue.

    I agree with the point about them coming along thinking the course comes with magic training dust, but I feel that's really down to poor preparation ahead of the course. I particularly find this on open courses where the delegates objectives/reasons for attending the course are not always clear. Although we do what we can with pre-course questionnaires etc. it still proves an issue.

    I had this exact example just today. A delegate on a course who had been placed on a Performance Improvement Plan for not hitting targets and was sent on the course to 'deal with his time management issues'. I asked them what discussions they had with their manager about both the PIP and the reasons for the course, but the only feedback they had was they were not achieving targets (I only have the delegates word for that). No coaching, no help or support. It's sad sometimes really as they often see the course as a punishment which makes it more difficult for them to see how the course and tools can help.

    Thank you for your responses. Although we look at much more than just the tools in our sessions (we look at mindset, attitude and behavior towards time to) I'm starting to wonder if time management in the 'new normal' is more that just urgent/important matrix etc. Maybe it needs a completely different focus. What that is I don't know yet but certainly something to think about.

  4. Time Intelligence?


    I agree, Time Management is at the end of the road in its current form. We're talking about Time Intelligence to our clients now. It's a recognition that Time is psychological, cultural and social, rather than mechanical. That said, the first thing we do (connected to Sophie's point about saying "No") is get people doing a 45 minute sprint. Working without any interruptions at all. Good, but slightly out of date research from 2005 shows that interruptions work like this:

    Average time until interrupted – 11 minutes

    Time to restart task – 25 minutes

    Time to get back to where you where – 8 minutes

    This is staggering. 11 minutes of productive work. Then 33 minutes on hold. 

    So a 45 minute sprint makes them 75% more productive, and really does gain them more time. Done twice a day over 5 days, it creates an extra working day.

    Hard to believe, isn't it? But if they can do this, they can create a firebreak to allow more time for strategic thinking and fixing core issues.

    Why isn't this common practice?



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David Lumley


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