We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit - Aristotle
When I was a child my mother introduced me to the phrase “we’re a creature of our habits.” I’m not sure whether she would say it to explain a situation or use as an excuse when something happened. Most of us tend to have a mixture of good and bad habits. The first step in kicking a habit is to recognize what it is and then make a firm commitment to do something about it. It sounds easy in theory but proves to be difficult in practice for many.
This is partly because 40% of the time we aren’t thinking about what we’re actually doing. Phycologist Wendy Wood says our minds are trained to fall back on habitual behaviours. Personally, I feel this more than ever this week while I’m in the USA as I’ve struggled to adjust my sleeping pattern to align with the different time zone.
Like many bad habits, poor time management is a behaviour developed over time. Workers generally don’t try to be inefficient on purpose. Instead they either only know what they know, don’t know how to change, don’t get the right training or support or aren’t held accountable to improve. Conversely, when good time management techniques are embedded into the way someone works, they seem to find a way to meet deadlines and achieve targets.
Imagine how much more effective individuals and teams would be if they developed the following 6 productivity habits:
- Organisation – an effective way to store and retrieve information
- Workflow – what happens next when work arrives?
- Planning – for demand and capacity to be considered
- Prioritisation – factoring in the important from the less important
- Scheduling – macro plans into specific dates and times
- Collaboration – in a way for effective communication and teamwork
Good time management starts with training and coaching. Substantial improvements are possible when the learning process is layered in correctly within a change management program. Excellence is not an act but a habit. What’s stopping you from committing to building the right habits now?