When it comes to time management and time management courses, the paradox is often that those who need them the most are those who are interested in them the least. Until the instances of missing deadlines, meetings and other important events snowball and come to a head to cause pain and loss whether financial or personal, people rarely give a thought about time management systems and processes.
Time management and productivity books abound in local bookstores, and for those who prefer digital formats, there are even more of them on the internet. For those who are already in the habit of working efficiently and are constantly looking for way to improve their efficiency and save time, these may be enough.
For those whose problems with procrastination, distraction and inability to finish what they start are severe enough to be taking their toll, a time management course might be a better idea for the following reasons:
1. Structure. It is true that books present their information in a structured, organized manner. How the reader receives and digests this information, however may not be as systematic and organized as the author intends. Often, a reader will just skim over the book, take out the parts that he or she feels is important, then promptly forget about the matter entirely. In other cases, a reader just squeezes in reading the book whenever it is convenient–something that does not exactly do much for retention and application. If time management, distraction and procrastination is the problem for the reader, chances are, the book may not even be read at all.
Courses, on the other hand, require the student to set aside a certain, regular time and period for studying the management of time and working on its problems. This provides the structure that someone who has a real problem with time management needs in order to work on his or her problems.
2. Presentation. Books allow the student all the information in a single sitting, allowing the reader access to everything at once. Many of the procrastinators I have worked with have a tendency to skim through all the information at a fast pace, thinking they are saving time in the process, and then forget all about them.
Courses, on the other hand, divide the information into single, simple concepts in at time-single concepts that students can easily focus on, and thus are retained easily and last longer. The most effective time management courses break down these concepts into actionable steps that can be easily implemented and integrated into daily life.
3. Involvement. A person reading a book will always have lower involvement than a person taking a course. Without involvement, chances are slim that changes can take place, no matter how much information is given.
Effective time management courses are structured in a way that enable or even force their students to think of the specific concepts in terms of their personal experience. This fast tracks the process of evaluating the problem (taking stock) identifying what changes need to be made, and committing to those changes. While many books try to address this issue by adding questions and “fill-in-the-blank” sections at the end of chapters discussing concepts, they hardly work because many people are conditioned to not write in books. In the case of ebooks (those in digital format) this involves taking an extra step of opening a new document, if the thought occurs to them at all.
4. Commitment. Books have readers. Courses have students. A reader’s only commitment is reading a book, it is his choice afterwards whether to remember it or not. A student, on the other hand, has an level deeper of commitment the moment he enters a course. Having this level of commitment already in place even before starting any effort to overcome problems of time management hastens the steps by leaps and bounds.
5. Assessment and Accountability. Many good time management books have sections with questions the reader must answer to assess where he is and track his progress. But because books are often read through or piecemeal in a disorganized manner, these portions are often skipped or just answered perfunctorily, with action points not tracked.
In a good time-management course, however, assessing progress and making the student accountable for his improvement is built into the program itself, making it easier to apply systematically–the basis of any program that requires change in lifestyles and processes.
The best time-management courses are of course those that are live: seminars, workshops and classes. The downside, however is that they are often unavailable instantly, require travel and scheduling, and can be expensive. A good alternative is to take an online time management course. Online time management courses abound. A quick online search of time management courses as well as the biggest problem it solves will give you a quick rundown of courses to take that may be most suited to you. (More)