Transactional analysis and time management

by Viv on December 4, 2007

A stimulating day was had by all on Friday at the Trainers & Developers Network where the theme was Transactional Analysis. Core to the practical application of this knowledge is the idea that we have subconcious scripts which we have learned early in life that govern our behaviour. It is possible to unlearn some of the habits that scripts cause so as to be able to deal appropriately with a wide range of situations. These insights seem particularly relevant to time management amongst other interpersonal skills areas.

One activity that stood out for me was completing the “Working Styles Questionnaire”. This identifies 5 of the underlying scripts that underpin our behaviour and which ones we tend to rely on most. The 5 are:

  • Hurry Up
  • Be perfect
  • Please people
  • Try hard
  • Be strong

It’s not hard to imagine these as statements that a parent said repeatedly to you as a child.

Scripts are particulalry pertinent to time management as when people are working under pressure they often seem to “revert to type”. As a person looking in, rather than being in the thick of a situation, the answers may be obvious. However an individual may be trapped by their scripts and these scripts link to time stealers.

For instance someone with a dominant “be perfect” script will probably find it difficult to produce a rough first draft if that’s all that is required – time is likely to be burned ensuring that the formatting is just so. Meanwhile a dominant “please people” script might manifest itself as someone volunteering to do an unrealistically large amount of work in an unrealistically short timescale.

Effective time management is all about getting into habits that work. Whilst our scripts may be helpful in many situations, recognising our own scripts and how to flex them is essential. Not all of the time management techniques that are typically found on training courses work for everyone. Scripts give us an insight into why and the path to greater effectiveness.

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