Applying Hertzberg’s hygiene theory to time management
I got the idea of a hygiene theory of time management from Hertzberg’s hygiene theory of motivation. I always thought it was a great theory, and when I taught management theories and leadership at college, we were able to bring Frederick Herzberg to Toronto under the auspices of the Canadian Institute of Management and was fascinated by his approach to motivation in the workplace.
Frederick Hertzberg, developed his motivation-hygiene theory back in 1959 so there’s nothing new about it, although at that time it was quite revolutionary. Basically it states that the things that motivate people are not the opposite of the things that de-motivate them. For instance, money, good working conditions, fringe benefits, good supervision etc. are all necessary to keep a person from being be de-motivated, just as garbage removal is necessary to keep you from becoming sick.
But those same factors won’t motivate people to perform at their full potential any more than garbage removal will make them healthy. He called these things maintenance or hygiene factors and they involve the environment in which people work.
What motivates people to excel in their jobs are such things as recognition, challenge, a sense of achievement, promotion and opportunity for growth – factors that relate to the job itself.
Similarly, in time management, I see many traditional time management and organizing strategies as simply keeping you from being disorganized, non-productive and ineffective. You could call these strategies maintenance or hygiene factors as well.
But they won’t necessarily make you a great time manager. What make you excel at being productive and maximizes your results are those things that we recommend in the holistic approach to time management – those things that also impact body mind and spirit.
I call these things effectiveness catalysts and they include such factors as the ability to focus, self-discipline, self-control, decision-making skills and judgment, which are all executive skills, and lifestyle habits such as adequate sleep, exercise and diet, plus a few traditional time management skills such as planning, visualization, goal-setting and scheduling.
In motivation theory, hygiene factors involve the environment while motivators involve the job itself. Similarly with holistic time management, most hygiene factors involve the environment while effectiveness catalysts involve the persons themselves – or more specifically, their body, mind and spirit.
Hygiene factors for managing time include such things as having a focus hour, streamlining your handling of e-mail and meetings, the use of computers, smart phones, electronic communications and the Internet. Although they allow you to keep pace with everyone else and not fall behind, some of them also place additional burdens on the individual, such as multitasking, speed, 24/7 connectivity, reduced time for sleep, family and creativity. They also negatively impact many cognitive skills such as memory, focus and judgement.