Home > Articles

A Powerful Lesson in Time Management

  • Print
  • + Share This
Pat Brans, the author of Master the Moment, points out that your attitude has a huge impact on whether you succeed or fail in business. Winners think of success as a goal to be achieved, rather than an inevitable outcome of their talent.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

What can you do to help yourself succeed? Most people have tried using some of the better-known time-management techniques, such as making short to-do lists, or plotting opportunities along the independent dimensions of urgency and importance. Making a short list can help you to maintain focus on your priorities. Using the urgency-importance matrix allows you to visualize things that are pressing but insignificant; then you can drop those activities.

Such tools are certainly useful, but what really makes a difference is the feeling you have about what you're doing. If you don't have a sense of choice about your work, or if your ego is at stake, techniques won't do much good. Let's take a closer look at this issue.

How's Your Attitude?

Psychologists such as Carol Dweck tell us that people have two opposing attitudes toward any given goal:

  • We may strive to achieve an outcome as a way of demonstrating current capacity. For example, we sometimes view getting ahead at work as a way of showing that we're smarter than other people. This attitude is said to be performance-oriented.
  • On the other hand, we might set out to achieve a goal with the view that we can learn to "do what it takes." If we stumble a little on the way, it simply means that we haven't learned everything. And reaching the end says nothing about our capacity; it's just the result of steady work. This kind of thinking constitutes a learning-oriented attitude.

No matter what time management tools you put to work for you, if you have a performance-oriented attitude, you'll shrink from the prospect of failure. That's because you interpret a bad outcome to mean that you actually don't possess the capacity you were trying to show off.

People with this mindset either give up when faced with obstacles, or they put things off. Studies show that the number one cause of procrastination is that the person's ego is attached to the outcome. Think of how many people do all the work toward a PhD, only to stop short of completing the dissertation. Have you ever wondered why PhD candidates quit at the point where they have to reveal the most about themselves?

Let's illustrate these concepts with two true stories.

A Learning-Oriented Story

A Learning-Oriented Story

We'll start with Gertrude Boyle, who began life as a German Jew in the 1920s. Her family got away from the Nazis in the nick of time and moved to the west coast of the United States in 1939, when she was 13. Safe in her new country, Gertrude learned English, finished high school, and went on to college in Arizona, where she met her future husband.

Years later, at the age of 47, she was faced with another very difficult situation. Her husband died of a heart attack, leaving her alone with their two children and a small clothing store in dire straits. A housewife up to that point, Gertrude knew absolutely nothing about running a business. On top of that, her husband had just taken out a $150,000 loan, using their home as collateral.

The next few years were turbulent. The store almost went belly-up on several occasions. But Gertrude kept at it, and eventually she grew the business into the publicly traded company known as Columbia Sportswear.

I spoke with Gertrude Boyle about her mindset, to try to gain some insight into what makes the difference between people who generally reach their goals and those who generally don't. The first thing noteworthy about her thinking: In her late forties, faced with a catastrophe, she didn't view her situation as particularly difficult. Having already lived through a major challenge as a young teenager, she knew the best thing to do was to avoid playing the victim, instead focusing her efforts on what she could do today and tomorrow.

She also took the view that although she understood nothing about business, she could work at it and get the hang of it. Success or failure had nothing to do with her self-image; they were just the outcome of a learning process. When funds were short and banks came after her in the early years, she didn't take it as an indication that she was a loser. It simply meant that she had to learn a little more.

Contrast Gertrude Boyle's case to the following story, and the difference becomes clear.

A Performance-Oriented Story

A Performance-Oriented Story

A brilliant mathematician and software engineer I got to know early in my career, Donald X was definitely born with a talent to solve complex problems. But, curiously, he was always frustrated in his work. All his interactions with people amounted to ego struggles. Because life was a zero-sum game, in any exchange one party was sure to wind up humiliated.

Since everything Donald did was a demonstration of his abilities, the stakes were always high. He was always afraid of not being the smartest guy in the room, so he frequently avoided meetings. He did what psychologists call "self-handicapping": To divert attention from his own perceived failings, he would set up an excuse ahead of time. For example, he would get drunk the night before an important deadline. This would allow him to blame an external factor for failure, which was far safer than the prospect that he actually had less talent than he thought he did.

Redirecting Your Orientation

Redirecting Your Orientation

In a competitive situation, people with performance-oriented attitudes tend not to work as hard as their learning-oriented opponents. They see putting their noses to the grindstone as a sign that they doubt their abilities. Performance-oriented people certainly don't want to give the impression that they can win only through hard work.

Life dealt Gertrude Boyle a less favorable hand than the one Donald X received. She wasn't born with any special talents, and she was faced with greater obstacles. But because she had the right mindset, she wound up winning the game.

If you find yourself thinking more like Donald X than like Gertrude Boyle, start developing a different attitude. Edge yourself in the right direction by making public statements about how you will be learning the necessary skills to accomplish what you set out to do. Play down the role of talent, and avoid making predictions about winning. What you say to other people makes a difference in how tightly your ego is linked to the outcome.

Time management is about making the best use of your most precious resource—time. When you set out to do something big, first work on your attitude toward your goal. Then look for the tools and techniques to help you get there.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020