On the management of time
June 21, 2006
Maybe it’s just me, but I find myself sighing when I read about “time management”…so much of what I read appears to be predicated on two things (a) there’s limited amounts of it (yup, I get that bit) and (b) it’s possible to operate in a linear way within a given time frame (here’s where I have problems)…
My life simply doesn’t work in straight lines. I can’t start the day with at “to do” list, work my way systematically through it, while ignoring all other interruptions so that I can feel a self satisfied glow at the end of the day with that line of “ticks”. i just can’t do it!
I remember attending a talk by psychoanalyst Adam Phillips a couple of months ago. He was talking about how psychoanalysis ‘works” and he described it as the theory and practice of side effects. He talked about how people come into therapy with a list of things they want to talk about and/or resolve and then something happens to derail the process and it’s in attending to the derailment that the real work begins. I laughed heartily at that description because in some way it describes my approach to consulting and getting things done. I am not in the habit of missing client deadlines. My work is done on time and on budget. I get the stuff done. But I rarely get up and work though my list systematically. I wander around, I think out loud, I allow myself to be distracted, heck I even day dream. And sometimes when I’m pottering about the most interesting insights will land in my lap. I know they wouldn’t arrive as fully formed if I was on a schedule and waiting patiently for them to materialise by 3.04pm.
I’m all for time management, but it needs to be congruent with the way in which we actually work and how we allow ourselves to be open to derailments that fuel our creativity and don’t close it down.