Have you time to read this? Have you got time NOT to?
Underpinning many of our beliefs about the world is the concept that time is a constant and that time keeps moving forwards in metronomic fashion. But this view is too simplistic and once we accept that not all time is created equal, we can appreciate that we have the ability to impact other aspects of our lives based on the lessons learned from time.
Before you click away in frustration that we’re suggesting time has some form of elastic property, consider the example of sport. The length of any given match is a fixed period of time. If the match is 90 minutes long, it isn't true to say that each of the 90 minutes is as important as another. There are critical periods within the match. Therefore, from a psychological point of view we can say that not all time is created equal.
This is true both in our business endeavours and our lives outside of work. Once we understand when the important periods are likely to occur, or what situations will set up a critical period, we can adjust our management of the available time.
If we apply this thinking to our learning activities, then the starting point might be how to identify important periods. Intuitive understanding of the importance of events on a sports field requires experience, derived from time practising and playing. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’ he introduces the concept of the ’10,000 hour rule’. Gladwell’s contention is that to be successful in any discipline there is a requirement of practising the task in question for around 10,000 hours. Whether you are in agreement with that thesis or not, it is relatively easy to agree that the building of memory patterns, of muscle memory (and I am including the brain in that muscle category), that help identify those critical moments of play, are formed with repetition and practice.
For our cerebral activities the clues are somewhat more subtle and require a willingness to analyse as broad a range as possible of data available. Education and training in the most traditional sense relies on face-to-face tuition and occasional high intensity examination with the results confirmed by way of a certificate. Unfortunately this approach fails to recognise the importance of non-structured learning whilst encouraging a ‘cram the brain for the short term’ attitude. What this strategy comprehensively fails to do is build muscle memory in the brain as required for identifying critical periods where learning will have greater impact.
The image above shows a representation of a learning style championed by David Kolb in the 1980's. His theory is based on a four-stage cycle of learning and four learning styles. He was particularly interested in the learner's personal cognitive processes. At the core of his work is the belief that “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.”
The Learning Line supports an open approach to recording a learning journey, with the goal of helping learners to build their data bank and to provide the means of analysis of that data to help the learner towards successfully recognising critical periods where acquiring skills and knowledge will be particularly beneficial.
To conclude, some thoughts from some wise souls on time and time management: “Lost time is never found again” (Benjamin Franklin), “You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future.” (Ashley Ormon), “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” (Mother Teresa) , “The best time to start was last year. Failing that, today will do.” (Chris Guillebeau), and lastly, “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” (Warren Buffett)