Tying up Time – Improving Your Time Management

Published on 2012-01-29

Source: blue2likeyou @ Flickr
MUCH OF THE COMPLAINING I hear from managers about coaching is that there is simply not enough time. Really? I think this is just an excuse and if we really analyse what we do in our day we will see that we are surrounded by golden opportunities to ‘create time’. One of the first hurdles to creating time is to understand how our day is filled with opportunities, and for that we must understand how ‘stuff’ gets done.
There are five categories to accomplish a task.  That’s it. And they are:

  1. Do it yourself
  2. Watch someone else do it
  3. Show someone how to do it
  4. Work together to do it
  5. Get someone else to do it

Now, let’s think about a simple task –  tying your shoes.  Most of you reading this probably woke this morning and tied your own shoes, without anyone watching you complete the task.  This is a simple task that falls into category 1.
Now let’s say your friend Phil, who has been wearing slip-on shoes his entire life finally decides to buy a pair of laced shoes.  He has no experience with laced shoes, and therefore has first asked to watch how you complete the task. Phil observing you, is category 2, while you showing him are participating in category 3.
Phil feels confident enough, having watched you to give it a try, and now wants to try himself.  You watch him, and he tries, and then tries again, and then finally you sense the frustration growing as he can’t quite complete it, so you jump in and assist him in completing the task.  In this case you might give verbal instruction or assist in the actual tying.  This is category 4.
Phil has just called you to tell you he has inherited 20 Million dollars. He now would like to invite you to be his dedicated employee. He witnessed how exceptional your skills are at tying shoes, and would like you to tie his shoes every morning. Welcome to category 5!
Recently, I was speaking to a German ex-pat in Asia who said that his work consists of almost  90% category 2, 3, and 4. How much time you spend in each category is going to vary, most notably because of the age and experience of your team and the difficulty of the task.
Chances are that today you will, or already have, wasted a lot of time by focusing on in category 1. Now, think how much more time you could create by turning this into a coaching opportunity, category 3, so in the future you are not needed at all. Ultimately, coaching is a win-win for both the coach AND coachee, because it frees up time for the coach, and improves the skills and job satisfaction.
Now go out and tie your shoes. And while you’re at it, teach someone else too!