Self-management and time management at SMA – a trainer's thoughts

This post was originally published in 2011. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

by Diana Thiel (guest post), 
Dr. Sabine Hoier

Dr. Sabine Hoier

Whenever I explain what I do, I hear lines such as, “oh, that’s something I should look at” or “hm, I’d have to find the time to do that.” Essentially, I enjoy such statements. They show that the topic is truly interesting and that many individuals really want to address it. The answers, though, are pretty difficult. That’s why I’d like to say here at the outset that there is no magic potion, and one-size-fits-all solutions don’t work!

Self-management and time management are intrinsically individual skills.

“Time management is nonsense. You can not manage the time, only yourself.”
Michael Kastner

What works wonderfully for one person is by no means the right thing for another. And finding out what works well for me is simply a step that must be taken. Just like taking a real inventory. And then there’s the implementing part.
Really, I sometimes wish, too, that it were different– but it’s simply not.

“He always wanted to be someone else, but he never wanted to change”
Michel Ende

Taking a conscious look at one’s own self-management skills is an investment. But do all of us really need to make that investment? The answer is a resounding no! Self-management and time management are not ends in and of themselves. The point is not to be a great time manager; the point is to find out if I can really do everything that I want to do, should do, and have to do in the 24 hours I am given in a way that I and those around me (family, friends, colleagues, bosses, pets, etc.) are happy. If I can do all that (at least within the framework provided by real life), then there’s no reason to change anything. Period!

And if it’s not like that?

That’s where self-management and time management can help.
Really!
But not at the flip of a switch.

How then?

The first step is taking a closer look at what I’m planning to do and what I’m actually doing. And in writing, for our feelings can be so deceptive.
It’s only then that I can really see what’s working well for me and where I still have room for improvement. And what change I can even truly bring about. For everything else, the real issue is how I handle things I cannot change.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

The second step is to find out how I can approach that development potential. And please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that everything can be changed 180 degrees at once. You already know that doesn’t work, right?

Then it’s time for implementation.

There is an ascending series of the probability of change: things that I decide to do on my own are things that usually don’t get done. Things I write down have a better chance. Things that I write down and share with someone else even more. And things that I write down, share with a group even more than that. And if I regularly share with a group while implementing that change, then I have a real chance.
And if you notice that you don’t want to “publish” your thoughts? That would beg the question as to whether you really want to change. If you don’t, at least a decision has been made and you can get away from the eternal should, must, and want to.

The SMA workshops

As I mentioned earlier, the method isn’t a miracle cure. No one can take on the responsibility for your actions. And wouldn’t you agree that’s a good thing?
When I was asked if I would be interested in writing this blog post, I had to think about it, especially in terms of what the task means for my own time management. In the end, I decided to do it because it gives me the opportunity to say to many what I always say to my participants in my workshops, which is: how good it is to hold workshops at SMA. Of course, SMA is growing in a dynamic way and after change is always before change and there will certainly be mountains of challenges that require the art of calm and composure.

The SMA workshops are a real chance for change.
Sabine Hoier

But one thing that I’ve experienced in every (!) workshop of which I have been a part is cooperation, mutual support, and a desire to take care of one another. That starts with the support I receive when I stand in front of a coffee machine and don’t know what to do and continues through to the first-name basis everyone’s on. It becomes particularly visible when it comes to working on participants’ own development potential. Everyone truly helps each other, and not just when it comes to understanding and an exchange – but very often with practical tips and honest feedback. That creates a working atmosphere in which things can get done and in which I enjoy, even as an “external” participant!