Acquiring a new skill is costly.
There is an initial expenditure of time, energy, and potentially money to become proficient at something new. In the area of time management, it ironically takes a lot of time and effort to learn how to save time and effort.
And this is where a lot of people make a logical, yet damaging, mistake.
When learning a new approach to time management, there’s time spent on the front end reading books and materials. There’s time spent getting systems setup. Then, of course, you often function more slowly while you’re learning the ins and outs of your new approach.
Eventually, you’ll (hopefully) get to the point where your investment of time was worth it. But that seems like it may be a while.
Procrastination by Research
So the logical approach is to minimize the setup time and the learning curve. Do a little more research. Read more how-to articles. Check out product reviews.
It sounds like a great idea, but what often ends up occurring is an endless cycle of research. It becomes a strange type of procrastination: in order to avoid the danger of wasting time implementing new approaches, you simply avoid diving in and learning a new approach.
No Margin To Learn
The other issue is that an overwhelmed person doesn’t have the extra time to invest in learning time management skills. They’re so busy putting out the daily fires that they can’t afford the slower front-end of the learning curve.
The temptation for these people is to look ahead for a break – which never comes. They tell themselves that next month this project will be over and then they can get organized. In just a few weeks, the kids go back to school and then they can read that recommended book on productivity systems.
But that extra time never comes. When the project ends or the kids go back to school, something else comes along.
Don’t Underestimate the Returns
The first step to appreciating a new skill is seeing the benefit. And an investment in learning time management will quickly and easily yield great returns.
Managing your time will benefit you every second of the day, so you’re constantly being “repaid” for your investment in learning time management.
If you save 6 minutes and 35 seconds every day, over the course of a year that adds up to an entire 40-hour workweek.
In other words, you could take an entire workweek to learn time management skills – and by trimming 7 minutes off of your day, it would be worth it in a year.
Now think of the impact you could make if you saved an hour a day!
Learn on the Path
The other tip is to learn on the fly. Learn while you’re implementing a new skill.
Initial research is great, but if you expect too high a level of mastery you’ll never start implementing a new skill.
And no amount of research can help you anticipate the kinks you’re going to face when you dive in.
Choose the Cost
The most helpful tip I have on this issue is pretty simple. Think of what you’re going to give up temporarily in order to learn this new skill. It’s going to be costly, so decide where you’re going to find those resources.
Maybe you get together with your family and agree to let the house cleaning slide for a lot longer than normal. Maybe you agree to pay a landscaper for the next three months. Maybe you decide to order in food a lot more often instead of cooking. Perhaps you decide to cook a huge amount of casseroles one night a week and everyone’s OK with no meal variety for the next little bit.
It may take an extra outlay of money. It may lead to more inconvenience.
But it will be short-term. And it will be worth it.
A Real-Life Example
For example, we’re learning how to eat healthier right now. In our budget-conscious family, the temptation is to spend endless hours researching how to eat well and inexpensively.
We hope to eventually master the skills of eating well on a budget, but we’re launching in now and acquiring the skills as we go.
We’re comfortable spending a little extra money during this learning period. We’ve also decided to make meals in bulk – meaning that we save time but the family may get a little tired of eating the same dish for three or four meals straight. That’s an inconvenience, but one we’re willing to tolerate for the moment.
What are some creative ways you can give up something and endure a little unpleasantness while picking up a new skill?
Note: My wife is having some minor surgery done today, so I won’t be on here responding to comments for a day or two. I’m not ignoring you – just taking care of her 🙂
Photo Credit: Keith Ramsey (Creative Commons)
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. However, this doesn’t affect what I write about, what I choose to say, or what I recommend. Learn more here.