Leaving Practice with Raw Hands

As I mentioned in my prior post: “The Pedagogy of Time Management,” there is a need for anyone who wants to improve their skills in this field to craft specific opportunities for structured practice.

Mark Needham’s summary of Talent is Overrated describes three kinds of practice from the book:

With regards to improving skills, three models are suggested for non-work related practice:

  • Music Model – Break down activity into smaller pieces; analyse each for ares of improvement; repeatedly practice each area. This is a useful approach for practicing presentations and speeches where we know beforehand what we want to do.
  • Chess Model – Study real games; practice the situations from the games; compare what you did vs what happened in the real game. This approach has been applied in business for many years, disguised as the case method.
  • Sports Model – re-learn the basics of the field; simulate situations that may come up in real life.

He goes on to apply these models to the improvement of software development skills in an interesting way:

I think some parts of each of these models can be applied to software development. From the sports model we can take the idea of re-learning the underlying principles of computer science and how our code is actually working behind the abstractions languages create for us; from the chess model we can take the idea of considering different options when we have a choice to allow us to select the one which will best solve our problem; and from the music model we can take the idea of identifying specific areas of improvement in our work and relentlessly working on these.

That’s cool thinking… and it makes me wonder how I can do the same with time management skills.

Ever since I created the NewHabits training programs I have wanted to include practice sessions – the equivalent of hitting shots from the driving range – but I have been unable to think of a realistic way to do this.

I’d love some help on this.  Is there a way to practice the 7 fundamentals – (Capturing, Emptying, Tossing, Acting Now, Storing, Scheduling and Listing) in a classroom environment?

Also, is there a surefire way for someone who wants to improve their skill in a particular area to focus on practicing that skill in keeping with the guidelines for deliberate practice from Talent is Overrated?:

  • Designed to improve performance
  • Can be repeated a lot
  • Feedback continuously available
  • Highly demanding mentally
  • Not much fun

I don’t think I’m the only one with this challenge, and from prior posts you might find that I have been struggling with this question for a while, and that progress has been slow.  Why?

Let’s look at some of the critical skills in Capturing:

– carrying something to capture with at all times

– capturing manually, instead of using memory

– maintaining a backup strategy

At one point, I have imagined an elaborate real-life case study in the middle of my live programs, in which a manufactured crisis results in participants having to use these three skills.  One fantasy involved a fake fire-alarm, mysterious phone calls involving elaborate instructions and a rapid response requiring information that had to be successfully captured in order to be used.

What I was thinking…???

I also am not a great believer in “analogy” learning exercises… for example, showing the importance of Capturing by going out to a ropes and logs course to do physical activities that teach similar lessons.  There is a certain physical motion required to Capture, and it’s this action that must be practiced… (Michael Jordan didn’t practice passing a basketball by playing soccer.)

The difficulty seems to be that it’s devilishly hard to re-create the original events that trigger manual capturing in the average day.  (This is distinct from automatic capturing, which happens when someone sends you an email, for example.  It requires no action on our part.)

What are these triggering events?  Here are a few “cases:”

  • as you are sitting at your desk you remember to pick up the milk on the way home from work
  • during a meeting, your boss asks you to meet with a customer, and you agree
  • you decide to open a new Gmail account for personal email
  • you put in place a backup strategy for those moments (like a day at the beach) when you don’t have anything to write with and you want to remember to remove the chicken from the freezer when you get home, and to send email to the guy in accounts receivable the following day

Each of these events naturally leads to the use of one of the critical skills in Capturing.  Something must happen at that critical moment for the user to realize that this is an opportunity to practice a new time management skill.

As an aside — let me explain how that works in my training.  Each person evaluates their current Capturing abilities using a scale ranging from White to Green Belt skills.  Some decide to make an upgrade, and pick up new habits.  In other words, they decide to engage in a brand new practice in response to the usual events they face each day.  (Take my online Capturing Quiz to see what I mean.)

The question is, how do they know (in the heat of the moment) that this is an opportunity to Capture using a new habit (by writing down the new time demand on a pad of paper) rather than using their old habit of, for example, committing it to memory?

And, how do they remember to practice that new skill until it becomes a new habit?

At this time, all I can think of is that they can engage in a form of visualization, in which they picture the event happening and their new, preferred response.  It might require a short definition such as “when I commit to a time demand in a meeting I immediately write it in my paper pad.”

Also, they could get a colleague or their boss to help them recognize and point out those moments when they say things like:

  • “I forgot / didn’t remember”
  • “I was too busy”
  • “I didn’t have enough time”
  • “I had too much to do”

These might be indicators that an error in Capturing took place.

They could also look for themselves to see the times when they don’t capture well, and time demands fell through the cracks.  I imagine something like a Crack Score to be kept by an individual who tracks the number of time demands that fall through the cracks each day, and some record of the source of the error.  In some cases, it might be traced back to a fault in Capturing.

While you may read this and think to yourself, “I would never bother with all that!” you may want to take note of the message of Talent is Overrated as related by the Fundamental Soccer blog:

2) Deliberate practice can be repeated a lot. High repetition is the most important difference between deliberate practice of a task and performing the task for real, when it counts. Tiger Woods may face that buried lie in the sand only two or three times in a season, and if those were his only opportunities to work on that shot, he’d blow it just as you and I do.

Repeating a specific activity over and over is what people usually mean by practice, yet it isn’t especially effective. Two points distinguish deliberate practice from what most of us actually do. One is the choice of a properly demanding activity just beyond our current abilities. The other is the amount of repetition.
Top performers repeat their practice activities to stultifying extent. Ted Williams, baseball’s greatest hitter, would practice hitting until his hands bled. Pete Maravich, whose college basketball records still stand after more than 30 years, would go to the gym when it opened in the morning and shoot baskets until it closed at night.

Talent is Overrated is unambiguous on the point — if you want to get better, then deliberate practice is THE “secret sauce” that high achievers have been applying behind the scenes in order to accomplish the amazing goals that we so admire in ALL fields.

Time Management is no exception, and the widespread mediocrity that passes for acceptable performance around the globe, in virtually every workplace, will only be reversed with a commitment to deliberate practice.

Livescribe – the Future of Capturing

In a recent NewHabits-NewGoals class, I met a participant who shared with us a rather early version of a pen called LiveScribe.

She admitted that it didn’t work very well, but when she explained the idea I was struck that it could be transformed into the perfect manual capture point – and not because of its ink.

The idea is simple:  the pen is a very special one with some built-in storage capability.  It allows you to write on some special paper, and it records the words you have written into the pen itself, in addition to the paper you are writing on.

Once you get back to your computer, you can download all the notes to a page, and if it can understand your handwriting, it will transcribe the words into English.

Prices range from US$99 to US$149.

It’s a bit fat in size, partly because it also has a built-in sound-recorder and a speaker.
I believe that it’s pitched to students who want to have access to their notes, but I think they are missing a great opportunity…

Here’s what I would do differently.

1.  I’d sell a version of the pen that leaves out the voice recorder and speaker.  Most people who take written notes don’t have a habit of taking notes via sound.  The extra capability could be taken out, which would reduce the size of the pen, and also the price.

2.  Sell more options of the special paper, in different sizes

3.  Develop a way to make notes without the special paper (which happens to be pretty expensive)

4.  Find a way to differentiate items that contain time demands from those that don’t

I’d market this new pen as a capture point that makes the paper that’s being written on obsolete.  The paper would actually become a form of backup, if you can imagine that.  Your pen-written notes that include time demands would be downloaded to your email Inbox and processed alongside the other items.

Voila!

Here’s the link to the website that describes the product.

Outlook’s Shortcomings – Part 2

outlook-ms-office-2007-beta-2-outlook.pngA program that is built for time management purposes would assist a user in executing the fundamentals, but also allow him/her the freedom to use its features to support their particular time management system.

Ideally, a user should be presented with as clean an interface as possible, with unnecessary features hidden away from view, so that they provide no distractions.

The purpose of such a system could be stated as “assisting users to manage their time so that they experience peace of mind.”

What needs to be understood at the outset is that “time management” is code language.  While it’s actually impossible to manage time, all that can really be managed are habits that are related to one’s daily activities.  They all, of course, consume time.  Having said that, the system needs to help a user to make it easy to follow the actions that comprise their time management system.

Here in 2Time, we say that every time management  is made up of 11 inescapable fundamentals.

The word inescapable is used quite deliberately to indicate that professionals around the world, regardless of industry, job or position, must undertake the same set of fundamentals to get their work done.

For example, the fundamental practice of capturing is one that everyone must undertake in order to allow new time demands to enter their system.

Outlook and most other programs like it are built around a single capture point — the Inbox that contains email downloaded from a remote location.

I used the word “clumsy” in a prior post to describe Outlook’s design, and its disregard for what users are trying to do with the program nowadays.

The design of the Inbox is an example of the inelegant design for those users who are trying to manage their time.

Why so?

By definition, Capture Points are the locations where time demands enter a professional’s time management system.  Example include the following:

  • email inboxes of all kinds
  • memory
  • post-box or equivalent
  • voice-mail box on our phone
  • pager or cell-phone for text messages
  • paper in a pad in our pocket
  • stack of Post-It notes
  • Twitter updates
  • Facebook message Inbox

The items that enter our Inboxes all have one thing in common — they have the potential for taking time out of our day.  They are meant to act as staging points for the rest of a user’s time management system.  As such, they are meant to be kept clear, and when they aren’t, a time management system can collapse entirely.

The perfectly designed Capture Point would have the following characteristics:

  1. it would be reliable, and hardly ever fail.  There would be some kind of backup available
  2. a user would have control over its use, and have the ability to turn it off and on as needed
  3. it would be designed with a way to prevent it from being overfilled
  4. it would make it easy for the user to move time demands to other points in a user’s system
  5. it would encourage the user to keep it empty, or very close to empty

The Outlook email Inbox is a Capture Point that is not designed as such.  Instead, it’s designed as a place to receive email.

If it were designed as a Capture Point, it might have the following:

  • auto-backup to a secure location outside the program
  • the ability to limit its size, and to issue warnings depending on how close the size is to its limit
  • built-in warnings regarding items that have spent too much time in the Inbox
  • a default setting that forces the user to accept email only on-demand, or at least on a daily schedule
  • appointments would be easier to make from incoming emails
  • there would be statistics that measure how well the Inbox is being managed
  • allow Twitter updates
  • the program would offer incentives (via games or visual cues) to encourage users to empty their Inboxes
  • a different location for the Inbox, pulling it out of the list of folders where it is visually lost, and given a huge icon that is more in line with its status as a major entry-point into the time management system

These are just preliminary ideas, and I am sure that there others.  One that I am fond of is a dashboard that shows the current state of a user’s time management system.  One very prominent indicator of good health is the state of a user’s Inbox — it’s a little like peering into someone’s eyes with a microscope to get a glimpse of their overall health.  On the dashboard would be a large graphic of the Inbox.

I imagine that there are many other ways in which the Inbox could be understood as a Capture Point — the only folder in Outlook that plays that very special role.  The key change in thinking is the new understanding that we now have — it’s more important for us to track time demands than it is for us to track emails.

This is especially true now, in 2009, when we know that not all email is useful, and for most professionals most of it is useless.  Instead, we have learned that time demands are much more important, and it so happens that quite a few incoming emails contain future time demands that must be carefully managed.

To be clear, the critical unit is not an email message, but a time demand.

The first Outlook-like program that is designed around time demands rather than emails will have a chance of bringing some much needed elegance to these programs.
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In Emergencies – Forget Email

istock_000002386483xsmall.jpgI am working on a project in which almost everyone around me carries a Blackberry.  My observation as one of the few non-Blackberry users is that many have developed habits that thwart their productivity.

One sad habit that has developed is that Blackberry users have trained people around them to elevate email to a level of urgency that it simply was not designed to achieve.

What does that mean?

Pretend that you are the user and I need to send you an important message.

Because I know you have a Blackberry, and check it continuously, I’d prefer to send the information via email because I know that you are likely to read it. In other words, you have trained me to take the path of less resistance in my communication with you, and to avoid the built-in risk of making a confronting phone call.

For example, all over the world, I am sure, there are people being advised by their bosses that they are being “let go” via an email to their Blackberrys.  if i were your boss, I would also give you feedback on the latest meeting in which I got upset at your remarks via email, before telling you that I am taking your pet project away.  I might even announce the reorganization that places you in charge of the wasteland of “special projects” via an early morning message to your ‘berry, knowing that you’ll get it while you are in the car on the way from work.

I send the message, you get it and (presumably) read it a few seconds later, regardless of where you are.  Communication complete.

Or is it?

The truth is, critical communication should never be handled via email.  None of the examples given above should involve electronic messaging, unless they are limited to simple requests to “meet at 3pm in the office.”  The very nature of critical communication is that it evokes an instant reaction that must be dealt with quickly by both parties.

Email communication is simply no substitute for live communication.  We all know people who have sent mildly critical emails that were interpreted as outright attacks by the recipient.  Those mistakes have been happening for years.

We now have people who feed the addiction that other have to their Blackberrys by sending them important emails, knowing that they’ll read them between messages from their cousins, theViagra people and Nigerian heiresses promising millions of dollars. They also know that they’ll be read at 6 in the morning and at 11:30 at night, right before the teeth get brushed.

Blackberry users need to be firm, and insist that they be contacted via phone or in person for all messages that are neither positive nor neutral. They also need to train their colleagues that urgent messages sent by email will be stale by the time they are read, so it’s a better idea to call immediately.  They can start the “training” by letting people know that they check their email/Blackberry on a schedule, and that for them, there is no such thing as “urgent email.”

The save time for themselves and others by adopting good technology, but more importantly, sophisticated habits.

Richard Branson’s Capturing

bransonastromos_468x321.jpgWhile many of us are insisting that “we’ll remember” and therefore don’t need to write things down, it appears that Richard Branson has made quite a few comments on the power of carrying a portable notebook at all times:

Quote 1

On how to get ideas for new products: “Always have a notebook in your pocket. People at parties and events can have great ideas, and you won’t remember them the next day.”

Quote 2

 On the February afternoon when Branson is explaining all this by phone he happens to be sailing into Antigua, his cell connection coming and going as he rounds some headland or other and then picks his way through yachts in Nelson’s Dockyard, which the seasoned Caribbean sailor will recognize as one of the partyingest of the Leeward Islands ports. Branson had Virgin colleagues aboard, and later that night would be sharing a spirited evening out with 15 or 20 of them, his notebook as ever alongside. “I keep a notebook in my pocket all the time,” he says, “and I really do listen to what people say, even when we’re out in a club at 3 a.m. and someone’s passing on an idea in a drunken slur. Good ideas come from people everywhere, not in the boardroom.

Quote 3

Carry a notepad at all times

“Of these five things, and it may sound ridiculous, but my most important is to always carry a little note book in your back pocket. I think the number one thing that I take with me when I’m traveling is the notebook.

“Make sure you can use it for ideas, for contacts for suggestions for problems and get out and address the issues. Your life will be that much better organized for carrying it.

“I could never have built the Virgin Group into the size it is without those few bits of paper. I think if you’re going to run a really personal airline, its those little details that matter and therefore the notebook is an essential part of my traveling day.”

 Quote 4

 Branson is well known for encouraging fresh ideas. He even keeps a notebook in his pocket to write them down in case he’s away from his office — which he usually is. Branson is always interested in learning new things and he encourages others to do the same.

I guess he’d be a good example to follow… maybe!

One easy New Year’s Resolution to follow would be the develop the habit of always having a capture point within easy reach.  That move alone would take a professional from being a White belt to an Orange belt, according to the 2Time system.

A Zero Inbox in Outlook or Gmail?

magnifying_glass.pngI just read a great post over at the Web Worker Daily Blog.

It essentially has to do with Capturing in one’s inbox, and how using Outlook has lead to very different ways of maintaining a Zero Inbox than using Gmail.

The post makes a distinction between Filers and Finders, and how people use each of these email tools.  Filers (predominantly Outlook users) put email in folders, while Finders (Gmail users) use tags to change the way email is displayed to them through different filters.

Ultimately, I think both get the job done (although Gmail’s method is more efficient, but less intuitive.)

The bottom line is that both methods can be used to maintain a zero inbox, which is (in my mind) a sign of superior efficiency.  In the case of Outlook, the folder is “empty”while in Gmail the tag or filter is “void.”

In the experience of the user (if not in the case of bits and bytes) the effect is the very same.

The full article can be found here:  Email — Are you a Filer or a Finder?

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The Problem of Capturing (without Tossing)

I just read an article that describes the “problem” of capturing everything, in which I think, by the end, the solution turns out to be worse than the original issue.

The article can be found at Merlin Mann’s site — 43 folders —  under the title: The Problem of Ubiquitous Capture.

The author, Matt Wood,  makes the point that his capture points end up with a lot of crap in them.  Right alongside the important actions like “remember my wife’s birthday” are other unimportant ones like “build a server farm in my closet.”

His issue does not seem to be that these items don’t belong together in his capture points.  Instead, the problem is that some useless items end up making their way onto his todo lists, where he admits they don’t belong.  He says that “a lot of us do have issues dropping something once it’s reached that level of commitment. So we keep it on the list, taking up space and adding to the cumulative dread of a to-do list bloated with junk.”

Instead, he suggests that users not try to write everything down, and instead trust that good ideas will find their way back into the mind once again, if they are any good.  He reports that his to-do list has shortened considerably.

I think that his analysis is flawed, and it’s because he’s working on the wrong time management fundamental.  Here is how I would advise him if I were his coach (I know, that’s pretty presumptuous of me…!) Here, I am using 4 of the 11 fundamentals of time management.

It’s the Emptying, not the Capturing

If items are on lists that should not be there, and capture points are being carried around with too many dead items on them, then the problem is in the  fundamental — Emptying, not in Capturing.  Either one of two things is happening — he is not Emptying often enough, leading his capture points to overflow, OR he is not Emptying rigorously, and failing to make a decision about what should happen next with each time demand.  Instead of making a tough decision about how to dispose of a time demand, he is simply adding it to a list.

It’s an easier action to take, but when each item is added to a list, the integrity of his time management system is weakened by just a small amount.  These small amounts add up to the point where he eventually loses respect for his own system because he knows it’s full… of crap.

The problem is not that his mind came up with the bad idea to begin with, or that he captured it in the moment he believed it to be useful.  Instead, it’s his faulty Emptying that results in him putting it in a List, instead of Tossing it away.

My experience is that I have little or no control over the quality of my thoughts.  Instead, they have a life of their own, and the good ones flow just as fast as the bad ones do.

The problem is that they don’t come tagged with good and bad tags, and it’s often inconvenient to evaluate and weigh each thought in the moment it occurs, due to the fact that I am often otherwise occupied… thank God they don’t make waterproof PDA’s (or do they?)

The time to evaluate and process the thought/time demand comes later, when I am good and ready to Empty.  At that point, each and every time demand should be removed from all capture points.

Letting Ideas Flow and Flow

Furthermore, I have noticed that when I don’t capture ideas (of unknown quality,) they simply keep coming back again and again until I acknowledge their existence.  The author takes this to be a sign of idea quality, and suggests not writing them down, because the good ones are most likely to return.

I don’t have that particular experience,  especially when I can’t tell whether an idea is good or not because I haven’t actually spent the time to evaluate its value. I have found that thoughts keep coming back until they are recorded in a trustworthy place, and only then does my mind relax and open itself up to the next thought.

It’s like making a mental list of stuff to buy at the grocery store, and working hard to remember it for the next 30 minutes until one is walking  down the first aisle of the supermarket.  All of that work to remember the contents of the list could have been saved by making a list, and the mind could have devoted itself to doing something else more worthwhile during that same 30 minutes.

I have discovered that the throughput of good ideas in my mind increases when I treat each one with respect, and store it in a safe place even if it is to be Tossed upon future consideration.

The problem, once again, is not in the step of Capturing.

Upgrading Scheduling Means Better Listing

The biggest problem I think that the author faces, however, is one that is not mentioned directly.  The challenge that people who are White and Yellow Belts in Scheduling often have is that they add time demands to lists in a way that excuses them from having to account for the fact that each time demand requires time.

In other words, it’s all to easy for someone to make a list of items to be done in the next day/week/month/year that simply is impossible to do because the time required is not being accounted for.  This fact would be obvious to them if they were practicing Scheduling at a higher skill level, and were filling out an actual agenda of items to be completed. Many who do so for the first time are sobered to discover that they are simply not able to do as much as they thought they could, and it’s not because they are lazy.  It’s just that their  lack of skill at Scheduling has kept them in the dark.

By the same token, while the item is on a list, it’s “time commitment” is hidden, as it simply lacks any relationship to the reality of a schedule.

In this way, lists can become bottomless, timeless voids into which anything can be thrown, without consequences.  Their use needs to be carefully balanced with how the schedule is used, according  to the user’s particular needs.

I can’t say definitively whether the author’s situation has anything in common with what I am saying here, but I do know that it applied to me before I was forced to schedule with greater skill.

The benefit of knowing the fundamentals lies in the fact that a user can better target their analyses of their own time management systems.  Like a decent mechanic, they have an in-depth appreciation of how the system works, and can move quickly from symptoms to cure in a matter of minutes.

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How I Do My Capturing

As a supplement to the work we are doing this week on Capturing, I thought that I’d share my personal approach to Capturing, and why I consider myself a Green Belt. I will also describe some of the challenges that I have when I capture, and my plans for changing my own practices in this area.

I use a paper pad, and my email in-box as my primary capture points.

hpim1683.JPGHere you can see a picture of my pad, which is inserted at all times into a slot in the wallet that carries my PDA (a Palm Tungsten T). This pad is actually a small notebook that costs about US$1, that I cut down to the right size with a pair of scissors. This is the best solution that I have discovered, as the right size pads have been impossible to find, but these notebooks are easy to source. Below is a picture of a notebook before it is cut down to size.

This combination of PDA and pad is what I carry around with me just about all the time, unless it’s impractical to do so.

I tried some other alternatives, none of which worked for me… At one point I tried using my PDA, but it was too clumsy a device for hpim1684.JPGfast data entry. The stylus was just too slow to use for capturing purposes. Plus, the battery has a an annoying way of running down when it gets too much use.

Built into my PDA is a digital voice recorder that I never use, because I find it annoying to have to listen to my own voice for much longer than I care to…

My Outlook in-box serves as my standard capture point for all email. I use it to collect 2 kinds of email, and I also have a Gmail account that I use as a backup for when something goes wrong with my primary email. I also have Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL accounts that I use for testing purposes, in addition to an email account I use when I am teaching that is assigned by the university.

hpim1685.JPGAt the moment, my in-box has 2 items in it — not quite empty, but almost.

My cell phone acts as my backup capture point when I don’t have my pad/PDA combination with me. I have found that I can enter a reminder to myself for a time when I’ll have my pad/PDA, or my computer handy. It has a nice audible alarm that interrupts me to let me know to do something with an item that I have captured beforehand.

At night, however, or very early in the morning, I am sometimes hit with a bright idea that I know I will lose if I don’t capture it immediately. This post is just such an example, having its genesis one night this past week.

hpim1686.JPGHere is a picture of the small book light, pad and pen that I use for capturing at my bedside without waking my wife. I use this capture point only once or twice a week, at most.

Of course, I also have voice mail on my cell phone and business lines. I have no voice mail on my homephone, as at some point in the past I decided that checking too many voice mail systems was killing my piece of mind. My business voice mail actually sends an email to my in-box telling me that I have a message, which means that I never have to check it myself.

As for memory, I do my best to not to have to use it, but there are times when I have had to use it in the past week.

In the shower, I had a great idea, but nothing to write it on. Some people have waterproof pads, and while I happen to have one (a remnant of scuba diving days), placing it in the bath would wreck havoc with my wife’s peace of mind, and therefore my own…I am sure. Instead, I do something else like moving my watch to my other hand, or a ring to another finger.

On a bike ride, while I have my cell phone with me, I haven’t tried to enter a reminder while flying down a hill at 30 mph. I probably shouldn’t try, either. This is one case where I am forced to use memory. Luckily for me, I don’t get too many time demands popping up on rides from Kingston to Ocho Rios.

Now and again, I’ll get lazy and use a stray Post-It note, or memory, or some other pseudo capture point. I usually get away with it because I do it quite infrequently.

Now and then, I forget to capture, and don’t write something down. The results are disastrous.

The other day, my plumber came by and I gave him a verbal list of items that needed to be fixed. This is a dangerous method, and prone to failure under the best of circumstances, especially when he wrote nothing down. Predictably, when he arrived a few days later he didn’t bring all the tools with him, as he forgot that there were so many things that he needed to do. It required another trip that he could make only a couple of weeks later.

This is one reason that I am not a Black Belt in this discipline. I am not yet reliable to work with people who are White Belts or Novices. I am not fully skilled at realizing when I need to be the one Capturing, if a task is to be completed successfully.

Professional Un-productivity

20070227overload.jpgAs mentioned before, the task of comparing one worker to another in terms of their productivity has become much harder.

However, the results of examining their in-box can give a good insight into how productive they are. In other words, a person who has an in-box of thousands of items is less productive than one who maintains less than 10 at any time.

(If you are immediately offended by this assertion, then stay tuned…)

What is the reasoning behind this statement?

To put it simply, a “full” in-box is a sign of very low mastery of the 2Time fundamental components.

But, what is the problem with having 100 or 1000 or 10,000 email items in an in-box? Is it even a problem worth considering?

Yes, it’s a problem and here is why. Contained in that in-box is a combination of different time demands:

Learning a Habit I Forgot

I am reading the #1 New York Times Best Seller – The Four Hour Work Week and finding it quite entertaining.

As someone who lives in Jamaica, it would seem that I am living the author’s dream to some extent! More on this later, to be sure.

One immediate benefit this book has brought me is that I realized that I had fallen back into the trap of checking email at all sorts of times during the day. I remember scheduling the times when I used to check email, and I even plan to teach it in the upcoming 2Time Pilot. Continue reading “Learning a Habit I Forgot”