Can Greek Mythology Help My Time Management Skills?
By BA Laris, MPH | July 18, 2017
Research Associate, ETR
I am always trying to make connections. I want to think about problems in new ways. Like most trainers, I like to find strategies that help me translate ideas into bite-sized morsels. I believe play is good for learning, too. Recently, I had a serendipitous opportunity to put all of these interests to work.
As part of ETR’s CISP team, I was developing a strategic retreat for an amazing team from Recovery Resources and the Safe on the Scene project. During a planning meeting they casually mentioned, “Oh. We definitely have issues with time management.”
Wow. I would say since the time of Zeus, humans have had issues with time management. But not many people make time to deal with it!
Let’s Prioritize a List!
So in the interest of time, I did what every good trainer would do. I googled “time management training activities.” Then I began sifting through, reading and reviewing a mountain of ideas. After a bit of mixing and concocting, I created a three-part activity to help participants reflect on their own work styles and strategies for time management.
Here are the components:
- An online quiz taken as pre-work to the training.
- A hysterical team competition that challenges participants’ time management skills (see photos below).
- A personal evaluation of participants’ own time management strategies and techniques.
Time Management: A Herculean Task
There is a plethora of time management advice everywhere you turn. To avoid wasting even more time by getting lost in conflicting advice or confusing apps and gadgets, the most important thing to remember is that one-size does not fit all. This is why we all need to reflect on strategies to manage our time that make sense within our own realities.
So here is my “WATCH” guide to help you, or your training participants, reflect on ways to improve time management.
- What is your priority? Recognize what your priorities need to be. When something doesn’t get done, it’s not that you didn’t have time. It just wasn’t your priority.
- Avoid the To-Do List Trap. A to-do list can be a useful tool—if it is a useful tool. Don’t use one if it doesn’t work for you. Don’t focus on crossing things off a list just for the sake of crossing them off, or getting through the list even if the things on the list aren’t the most important priorities. But do find a way to set out your priorities so you can focus on effective strategies to achieve what is most important to you.
- Tell your own narrative. Know yourself and what you need to accomplish. Don’t get stuck in other people’s definitions of success. Get clear on your personal definition. Celebrate success when you achieve it. When you don’t, strategize on how to improve for next time.
- Changes. There is so much advice out there about time management! What should you do first? Try changes that seem do-able and make sense to you. See if they make a difference. This is a great way to discover more about your own cognitive and productivity styles. Small changes can have a big impact!
- Have a presence. If you are part of an organization—well, then, be a part of the organization. Just doing good work in your own world is not enough. You need to show up, engage with others, and make a difference.
In the training design here, you’ll find more detailed steps for the activity I call “The Herculean Task of Time Management.” By completing this three-part exploration of time management, participants can be their own heroes of Greek mythology. Yes, indeed, they can become Titans of Tasks, balancing time and brightness in the moment! Jumping Zeus—they can transform their lives!
In our own retreat, Team Phoebe (Titan Goddess of Prophecy and Intellect) and Team Chronos (Greek God of Time) mixed it up perfectly, as you can see from the photos.
I’d love to hear from others who try this activity. How did it work? What adaptations did you make? Will you do it again?
BA Laris, MPH, is a Research Associate with ETR. She plans, develops and coordinates evaluation activities in a variety of settings and also provides capacity-building assistance to community-based organizations working in HIV prevention across the United States. She can be reached at email@example.com.