Is it really about time? What is lack of time really about?

Last week I got an email from a client about ways to address time management issues they were experiencing with a team member.

This team member…

  • Tended to get really enthusiastic about minute details
  • Didn’t know when to say NO and set boundaries to protect their time
  • Would then get so overwhelmed that the team had to pick the overflow work at the last minute
  • Their wellbeing was impacted by the overwhelm.

And I can see how it’s tempting to put it down to time management. But in my opinion, these symptoms are rarely signs of time management, and often of deeper issues that can impact the whole team, not just one person.

Time management doesn’t happen in a void. It needs a solid foundation to be effective as a tool.

It needs:

…A clear understanding of the organisation’s values and priorities; without that, prioritising becomes arbitrary

…The psychological safe space to say NO and feel supported when you do

…The self awareness to understand one’s tendencies and work with them, not against them

Now, my client was absolutely committed to supporting this team member, and understood some of this already. But it’s easy to lose sight of what the best next step is and send them on another course, because…sometimes we just want it to be easy and sorted.

I always think there is so much opportunity in spotting these ‘problems’ and looking into the deeper causes.

Think about your own experience. When you’ve noticed team members slipping down the time management scale, did you dig further to seek the deeper problem?

And what did you discover?

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