Personal Productivity

Why Time Management Advice Is Like Drilling at the Dentist

Time Management Advice
wrote this on February 20, 2013
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This is a guest blog post by Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad.

Just recently I went to the dentist to get my tooth fixed. It had a hole and therefore it had to be drilled. Although I didn’t like the idea of drilling at all, I knew that the sooner it was done, the better.

However, there was one particular question that I didn’t know how to answer: Should I take the local anesthesia shot to my mouth before the operation or not?

Both options had both pros and cons and that made the decision quite hard for me. Simply, I wasn’t quite sure what to do.

The operation room

As soon as I entered the dentist’s room I asked: “So, should I take the anesthesia or is the drilling not so painful after all?” The dentist answered: “It depends on the person. Some feel the pain, while others think it’s not really a big deal.”

Needless to say, that didn’t make my decision any easier! I was on the fence and it seemed that there weren’t any clear reasons to choose one option over the other. On the other hand, I wouldn’t feel the pain if I took the shot. However, if I took it, my mouth would be numb for a couple of hours after the operation, and I didn’t like that option either.

Finally I made up my mind and I decided that I’ll get my tooth fixed without the anesthesia. And yes, I was nervous but I stuck to my plan anyway!

This is where time management kicks in

The drilling part (and the whole operation) went quickly and with a very little pain. I was also happy that I didn’t have a numb mouth after the operation.

However, I started to think about what my dentist said before the operation, that all of the drilling experiences are different depending on the person. I realized that this very same principle applies to time management advice as well.

Whenever you are learning about time management by reading books, listening to experts on stage or watching videos, you are most likely learning what that person has experienced and what techniques he/she had success with.

At the same time, when you try to apply to those same experiences to your personal situation, you might fail – you just can’t get the results you expected.

For instance, when someone tells you to wake up early, test the technique first and then see if it’s for you. Perhaps waking up at 5 AM is not your thing and you are much more productive if you wake up at 6.30 AM.

Whatever the case is, always remember your uniqueness in the equation: Your life situation and other variables are most likely different compared to your teacher’s. However, when you apply what you have learned to your situation you can get the best results.

Time management with IQTELL

How to make all the time management advice work for you?

Next time you listen to an expert who talks about time management remember to do the following:

1# Stop listening blindly. First and foremost, stop listening to a guru or an expert blindly. What worked for him/her, doesn’t necessarily work for you.

Don’t feel stressed or put down if you are not applying what you have been taught. I know that I’ve had situations, where I felt guilty for not implementing everything I was taught by an expert.

You are living a different life than he/she is and it’s OK not implementing everything if it doesn’t feel right. Your responsibility is to shape the advice so that it works for you.

2# Test it carefully. Take the lesson and put it to a test drive. Truly to understand what the lesson is all about by experiencing it properly and then make your conclusions about it.

When you start the test phase, I have just one piece of advice for you: Don’t give up too soon! Many times we rush off to say, that something did or didn’t work after trying it only once.

Don’t do this! Give the technique enough time – only that way you can see if it’s useful for you or not.

3# Make your own adaptation of it. This is really the best part – your own version of the lesson. Once you have properly tested it, you can see the best way to apply it in your life.

For instance, I find the Pomodoro technique interesting. However, when I tested it, I felt that the Pomodoro sessions were just too short for me. So, rather than sticking to a default length, I’m using 45-50 minute working sessions instead. This way I get work done and I’m not forced to take a break too soon.



It’s OK to listen to experts and gurus about how to improve your time management skills. At the same time you make the final call on how the lessons are implemented into your life.

Take your time, do proper testing and see how you can make advice optimum for you. That way you can get the best results – the ones you wanted.

Over to you: How do you make sure the lesson you have learned works for you?

Timo Kiander - Why Time Management Advice Is Like Drilling at the Dentist

Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.

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4 responses to “Why Time Management Advice Is Like Drilling at the Dentist”

  1. lyceum1776 says:

    Timo: The “point 3# Make your own adaptation of it” is really hitting home in my case. I have been reading several books on time management, tested different apps, etc. I am developing my own version of a personal kanban system with both pen & paper, whiteboard with sticky notes, and a software & application to store everything in one place. Personally, I need to write things down by hand, taking notes and get a visual overview of the workflow, and at the same time I want to have IT space for all stuff that I come up with during the iteration process. That is why I calling my own personalized productivity system for F.I.X IT! (Form – Information – eXecute & Information Technology!).

    Recently I stumbled upon the tool WorkFlowy and today I received my Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine as the final pieces in the puzzle. Now it is only to go through all the stuff… ;)

    • Timo Kiander says:


      That’s exactly what I’m talking about :) Like in your case, you are creating your version of Kanban and that’s great!

      Hey, any great resources where to learn more about it?


  2. Yvonne Root says:

    Yes Timo,
    Learning from others doesn’t mean following every single thing they say down to the letter. Learning means listening and adapting as wanted and needed.

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