How do your Strengths affect your Time Management?

Time management strengths

Managing time can be a constant pressure when working alone, so how can we become more effective? Evie Arnold explores how our CliftonStrengths® themes influence our approach to time and time management. Some themes may support whilst others could sabotage the valuable 24 hours we each have in a day. Interviewing six Gallup Certified Strengths coaches with different business models, she uncovers their fascinating perspectives on planning and managing time.

If you are unintentional about time,
all you will ever be doing is living in email
& putting out other people’s fires” 

Stephen Shields, Senior Consultant & Executive Coach

What is Time Management?

Time Management is not about managing time itself; it’s about managing the way we spend the time available. This raises the question of whether our CliftonStrengths® themes influence our choices in utilising the time available. It became evident to me early on that the coaches I interviewed had nuanced views on the economics of time.

Let’s explore some of their experiences to unlock clues to how our own Strengths impact our time management.

Where are we going?

Richard Sterry time management

Richard Sterry

Richard Sterry has a habitual Monday morning routine for planning his week.  With high Focus® at #11, Richard has monthly, weekly & daily goals giving Focus the answer to “where are we going” and what outcomes he wants. The tool Richard uses is Dana Williams’ “The Strengths Journal”. He prioritises the tasks and maps them to his themes enabling him to apply his Strengths to the week ahead. Asking Richard which theme he needed to keep in check when doing this, he chuckled outing Learner® at #2 which is always curious to explore new things and looking for variety. Interestingly, rather than his Learner talent feeling suppressed from the planning time, there was always something to look forward to as Learner® brought a catalytic energy to get started.

A ritualistic view

Jo Self by contrast described her time management style as looking chaotic & non-linear to an outsider but felt comfortable and energising for her Strengths. She related this “go with the flow” energy to her Ideation® at #5 and her Arranger® at #6. Rather than relying on a habitual approach to time management, Jo leans into her #1 Strategic® talent for a ritualistic view of systems. Jo noted that her #2 Activator® was not interested in long deadlines – so immediacy is where her energy is at.

Jo Self coach time management

Jo Self

Start with the end goal in mind

Dr Vicky Goodin

Dr Vicky Goodin

Dr Vicky Goodin was initially wary of how to manage her time as a solopreneur coach with Focus® at #20. Vicky said she sometimes felt scattered with her brain waiting to give attention to many different things.

She overcame this by using her #1 Strategic® Strength to start with the end goal in mind and work backwards. Vicky felt it was useful to include #4 Arranger® to ensure she had enough flexibility for travel and her family.

Make productive use of every minute

Agnes Nerc linearly looks at time management with Discipline® at #2. She has a real drive to make productive use of every minute of the day and so plans every activity including social needs and sleep habits into her calendar. 

Agnes humorously noted that her #6 Arranger® sometimes sabotages her carefully diarised plans to create chaos which can then be reordered.

Agnes Nerc

Agnes Nerc

Set priorities

Stacy Crawford

Stacy Crawford

Stacy Crawford recognises that her #1 Maximizer® and #5 Strategic® want “the best of” and so can sometimes lose time rethinking and refining ideas. 

This has sometimes been challenging and as a support mechanism, Stacy leans into #9 Responsibility®, blocking time with herself to set priorities, commit, and then uses #10 Achiever® to execute.

Commit and then execute

Charlotte Blair noted that her effective time management depended on #4 Arranger® having the pressure of many plates spinning. 

She noticed that when she did not have enough going on this could lead her to procrastinate.  When these ebbs arise, Charlotte leans into #6 Responsibility® to ensure she commits and then executes.

Charlotte Blair planning coach

Charlotte Blair

Productive use of Time

As a coach & solopreneur, I am very conscious of productively using my time.  I’m aware my #5 Input® can lose time by going down a research rabbit hole.  When I have a request come in – I have to engage my #6 Discipline® to regulate the level of detail needed and ringfence a boundaried time slot for information collection.

These examples of different ways our Strengths respond to and regulate time signposted me to the principles of Clifton Strengths® that remind us that Talent themes are neutral. How our Strengths support or sabotage our time management depends on how we apply them.

“Your strengths give you your cutting edge. They’re the difference between good and great.
They’re obvious enough to set you apart, yet versatile enough for you to shape
and develop them into your secret advantage.” 

Gallup®, Inc. (1999-Present). How to Develop and Improve your Strengths.

Do your Strengths Support or Sabotage your Time Management?

Reflecting back on the original question “Do your Strengths Support or Sabotage your Time Management?”, here’s what I’ve learned – unchecked your Talents can directly impact your Time Management. I’ve distilled 5 tips to support you on your journey to intentionally aim your Strengths to support you:

  1. Cultivate a Strengths-Oriented Mindset Towards Time
  2. Lean into your style and preference through experimentation
  3. Tailor your tasks to complement your Strengths
  4. Create Rituals and routines that align with your Strengths
  5. As you scale – outsource & delegate tasks that don’t feed your energy

I recommend spending at least half an hour a week planning on how you leverage your Talents, seeking feedback, and intentionally adjusting your style to maximize each Talent’s potential in supporting your Time Management goals. Though initially time-consuming, the compounding effects of Talents aimed with intention result in higher productivity and better-quality output in fewer hours.

Further Reading

Create Productive Habits with The Strengths Journal

Header Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Written By

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