Breakthrough Time Management
Talent Technologies helps individuals manage their time, workflow and projects with Productivity Factor, our management training programme for Thai and multinational companies. In this article we explore the central framework that we use to help individuals manage their goals and priorities.
Making sense of time management with Altitude and Latitude
One of the problems faced by professionals trying to manage their time, especially in areas of their life away from work and their careers, is the challenge of juggling all their responsibilities and feeling that they are able to do each one justice.
The fundamental problem, so often, is that these responsibilities are dimensional, yet humans have a tendency to think in a linear way.
In order to overcome this, Talent Technologies has developed a tool that helps participants in our programmes think dimensionally – and thus prepare themselves effectively for the goals they want to accomplish and challenges they may face on a daily basis.
We call these dimensions Altitude and Latitude.
Altitude is the dimension of time. Usually, we feel a sense of accomplishment when we achieve a certain goal, or complete a task – within our expected time frame. The feeling is similar to one of gaining altitude, going up in the sky.
And, as the saying goes, ‘if you’re not rising, you’re sinking’.
So how can we sustain our altitude? Or better still, gain in altitude every day?
The answer lies in clarifying our long-term goals, and beyond that, our personal vision, so that our accomplishments are real and not empty or ‘hollow victories’.
This means being able to envision these goals over a long period of time, and then distil them into a format that we can use on a daily and hourly basis. Here lies the rub.
In order to help individuals manage their daily and longer-range priorities, their ‘todays and tomorrows’, if you like, we feel it helps to think in terms of altitude. How far up is this in the sky? Often, the tasks ‘close to ground’ are the ones we feel the most, but are they really going to take us close to the ‘50,000 feet’ goals of our life vision?
And, assuming we have identified a ‘50,000 feet’ goal, what levels of altitude will we need to reach in order to accomplish it? What does this mean for our daily routines?
The vertical goals of Altitude look like this:
To make Altitude work, we need to be clear about the following:
- Goals need to be realistic and resonant at every level. Usually, our dreams resonate in our hearts (and where our ‘life vision’ comes from), but we need our heads to work out how to reach them.
- Goals need to have a clear ‘flightpath’ from one level to the next. For example, if a 5 year professional goal is ‘to be CEO of a major multinational company’, then there needs to be a clear and realistic progression at the lower levels of altitude.
- Our method for Altitude means that individuals can start anywhere: on the Runway, at 30,000 feet or with their Life Vision. Or all at once. The key thing to remember is that this is an iterative process and can take months or even years to discover, articulate and flesh out.
So much for Altitude and time. Altitude, however, does not make sense without the horizontal awareness of Latitude.
The 6 Degrees of Latitude
The Degrees of Latitude are the horizontal dimensions of the various roles in our life. For example, a man who wakes up and takes his kids to school starts his day in the role of husband, then steps into the role of father, then, when he enters his office, becomes manager and so on…
Unlike some time management theorists (notably Stephen Covey), we happen to believe that managing our time using ‘roles’ is not as helpful as simply using the dimensions in which those roles take place – and articulating goals in those dimensions. This is because when we are in a role, it is much easier to be diverted from the goals in our Altitude Plan.
Instead, we believe orienting your life around these 6 horizontal dimensions is more useful (and effective):
When training, we then encourage participants to conduct thorough reviews of each of these dimensions, articulating goals relating to them at every level of Altitude (if possible – see note 3 above). Each degree of latitude may have dozens of questions, but here are a short list of some worth considering:
Using our Navigator, participants then map their goals in each grid in their own time, and feed that information back to their monthly, weekly and daily Planner, giving them clarity where it matters most: on the heat of the Runway.
Only Part of the Process
Altitude and Latitude are only part of the time management training that we offer. To make the most of our time and effectiveness, we also need to consider the Terrain – which is the context of each task and the resources at our disposal.
The Key Question – Readiness
The key question when using the Navigator and Planner is – how ready are you? – How ready are you to accomplish this task to perfection? To 90%? To 80%? What degree of excellence is really necessary, and how does it look?
Having a clear concept of success is as important as striving for that success itself. We need to know what it looks like when we get there!
Productivity Factor is a management training programme offered in Thailand by Talent Technologies, helping individuals make the most of their Time, Talents and Personal Resources.
If you would like more information please feel free to email us here.
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