Using the New Time Management to Avoid Digital Distraction

On August 24th I’ll be giving a tele-class to the members of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.

The topic will be The New Time Management and Digital Distraction.  It’s not a free event as you must be a member of the institute to attend, but it seems like a great group of folks and I love what they are trying to do.

Please check our their site and see whether or not you’d like to join.

Pink Shoe Power Follows Time Management 2.0 Principles

Am I a bit excited?  It’s the first time that I have found another website that shares Time Management 2.0 principles.  It’s called Pink Shoe Power.

The authors of the site, Valerie McDougall and Jayne Jennings, describe four time management styles that women might find themselves following, and based their thinking on the following line of thinking:

 

Have you found you’ve spent your time and money trying different time management tools or strategies before that just didn’t work for you? Either because they seemed too hard to keep doing, didn’t feel right or didn’t give you the results you were wanting?

If you’re like most people you’ll be nodding right now! (Can I see you nodding?)

It’s not your fault….

You don’t expect all clothing to fit you and look good…so why should we expect the same of time management tools and strategies?

Many time management systems are flawed for one key reason…they assume that the approach they prescribe is right for everyone, They’re based on the false assumption that with equal effort, everyone will be able to achieve similar outcomes.

THE PROBLEM is one size doesn’t fit all—we are all individuals with different likes and dislikes and importantly, we learn and do things differently. Some people are visual, others kinesthetic, auditory, structural, or creative…. So it’s no surprise that the way you approach time management is NOT the same as everyone else’s.

That’s from the page describing their book by the same name.

While I haven’t read the book I applaud their thinking and once again can only wonder why there aren’t hundreds of sites based on this seemingly obvious premise?  I take it for granted here at 2Time Labs, but this is the only site I have found that clearly and openly shares that premise.

Maybe I’m wrong, but if not, would anyone care to venture a guess?

 

Living a Life Filled with Experiments to Improve Your Productivity

In case you haven’t noticed, or are new to this website, I am not a fan of the quick fix.  When it comes to time management, I simply don’t believe in them.

Genuine upgrades take work, whether you are a world-class athlete or a working professional looking to be more productive or reduce your backlog of email.

Matthew Cornell is a very interesting blogger and management consultant who recently made a radical change in his public writing.  He’s no longer writing much about time management and productivity, and has instead shifted his attention to doing life-experiments.  His blog is called The Experiment-Driven Life.

Fortunately for us, he’s saying some great things.  Unfortunately, he’s one of the few saying these things, and very few seem to be listening.

His thesis is simple enough.  If you want to get better at anything in life you need to learn how to conduct effective experiments.  In other words, you need to do research.

Not the kind of research that we like to do when we do a Google search.  He’s talking about PhD level work that starts from the ground up, but instead… done by the common man.

Here is a link to his cornerstone post:  How to Experiment

The reason that his blog is of such interest to me, and the work at 2Time Labs is because it echoes the approach that we advocate in Time Management 2.0.  If you agree that each of us needs a custom time management system (for any number of reasons) then designing one that works involves a major sequence of trial and error.

It’s much better to use good research principles than to flounder around wasting time without the right kind of objective data, and Cornell’s point is that this data can be quantitative or qualitative, and be drawn from the very day to day activities that make up your life.

I might be quite biased, as I taught an MBA school research course, and also has degrees in Operations Research.  However, he’s going much further than anything I ever taught or learned in driving this kind of “hi-falutin'” thinking into everyday life.

It’s exactly the right mindset that we all need to adopt when we attempt our upgrades, and the more rigor we bring to the experiment, the less time and effort we’ll spend on them.

Take a look at his site, and understand why I want to create a community of self-experimentation.

Great quote

Productivity is never an accident.  It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

Paul J. Meyer

So much for the tips, tricks, shortcuts and secrets that we love so much…

Breakthroughs in Teaching Time Management via Elearning

I honestly thought that my on-line training programs were pretty decent, until I started to read some of the latest thinking… it kept me up last night after 12:00am and almost made me miss my bike ride this morning!

It comes from the Elearning Blueprint website authored by Cathy Moore, who has a fantastic blog called Making Change.  She has pioneered a new method of thinking about designing powerful Elearning called the “Action Method” that she describes in much detail at her site (a woman after my own heart!)

(As an aside, I love meeting other “wannabe-thinkers” who also want to change the world in some way, and believe me… she’s gotten the ideas presented in a way that’s concise and compelling.)

The reason I am loving what I’m learning is simple. I’m opening up my on-line programs for registration – MyTimeDesign 2.0.Free and MyTimeDesign 1.0.Plus+ – in September and I’m keen to make it the best on-line training in time management in the world.  One of the problems that I have to conquer is the transition from just giving out a bunch of information, to ensuring that participants who register end up taking action by building the habits that make up their upgraded time management system.

Well, she debunks the idea of dumping information, in favor of creating experiences and a light bulb went on for me, because that’s exactly what happens when someone takes my course.  Here are the experiences that I have come up with so far that people have when they encounter Time Management 2.0 in one of its forms.

  • Experience #1: Going from “I don’t need this” to “I need to change some things
  • Experience #2: Going from “I don’t know what things to change” to “I know exactly what I need to change
  • Experience #3: Going from “I need to change too much” to”I need to change a little at a time
  • Experience #4: Going from “I’ll never continue after I start” to “My support system makes it easy to keep going
  • Experience #5: Going from “I’m stuck because I can’t see a new level” to”I know how to set and find a new level whenever I want

If I understand the website correctly, good Elearning is about emphasizing these kinds of experiences.  They are quite real, and the aim of the Elearning is to ensure that the tools and information are given to help the learner to solve the problem themselves.  They get to discover the consequences of their choices, and don’t have to be told what they are: if it’s done well, they can see them for themselves.

When these experiences are powerfully crafted, they result in behavior changes that produce results in the real world.  They need not involve flash videos or anything fancy, and should just do enough to cause the behavior to shift.

I’m planning to use her principles to enhance MyTimeDesign 1.0.Plus+, which is starting to look quite different from it’s Free cousin due to the new angles that I’m adding. Stay tuned — ultimately, it’s really the participants who will be telling whether or not I achieve the big goals I have set for these programs.

Escalating, Fool-Proof Habits

I have been tricked.  And I may need your help.

Perhaps the word “trick” is a bit too strong, but I’d love to hear what you think.

An unknown (but noticeable) number of people who take my courses appear to be following the statistic I recently read about trainees reverting to their old behaviors.  Apparently, the average is 87%.

I have been thinking about an experience shared by a friend of mine who used to be a personal trainer – not in time management, but in physical fitness.  She said that she eventually got bored with the profession because she felt that most of her job after the first two coaching sessions consisted of waking people and getting them to the gym.  In a way, she was forced to become a glorified nag.

Nothing wrong with that, and I can see that it could actually be effective in helping people lose weight.  At the same time, I can see my friend’s point.  A Masters degree  is generally not required in order to find a way to motivate a slow-moving client to get to the gym.

From the angle of changing habits, this kind of support is exactly what’s required.  In fact, I imagine that those trainers that are effective are able to craft a chain of “escalating interventions.”

Wat exactly do I mean by that term?

Many years ago I had a coach who agreed to work with me.  Due to an error, I missed the first appointment and when her contract came to me for signature, it had a proviso.  If I missed another session, her rate would go up by US$50 an hour.  If I were late once again, it would increase by another US$50 an hour.  (I’m not sure about the exact dollar amounts, but they were dramatic.)

In more than ten years of coaching sessions with her, I was never late.

Her “escalating interventions” set a very high bar for me, and it only worked because I was deadly serious about the game I was playing.  In my training programs, I want to do something similar, and use whatever means I cam to make a difference.

After a one day program, for example, I might offer 3 kinds of interventions, to help people in their habit changing.

Let’s imagine that the activities involve the following actions to be taken over a ten week period.
a) writing a weekly report and sharing it with the instructor, and someone else from the program
b) updating an on-line  daily checklist that involves mastering some new habits, while getting rid of some old ones
c) consuming a single piece of content from my blog 3 times per week and writing a summary of no less than 3 lines

I could imagine offering participants 3 mutually exclusive games to play with respect to this assignment:
——————
No-Game: I don’t want to play a game and want to be left to myself. (I imagine that most participants will choose this option.)

Bronze Game: If I miss a weekly report, or 2 consecutive weekday checklists, or a single summary I pay US$50 to a company or organization that I despise

If I miss 2 weekly reports, or 4 weekday checklists or 3 summaries, I pay US$100 to the instructor’s favorite charity

Gold Game: If I miss a weekly report, or 2 consecutive weekday checklists or a single summary, I pay US$500 to a company or organization that I despise

If I miss 2 weekly reports, or 4 weekday checklists or 3 summaries, I pay US$1,000 to the instructor’s favorite charity
—————–

(The latter two games use principles built into the site Stickkit.com, which uses a service to  encourage people to change their habit.   I would also borrow the principle of using an impartial referee.)

At the end of the program, I could offer these games to participants, and give them the opportunity to take advantage of the feelings of high motivation that felt at the end.  I could also offer them a way to cancel the agreement within 3 days with no penalty, just to make sure they are serious.

What do you think?  I am really curious to see what effect this might have, and until I have some experience, I’d love to hear what you think!

Helping Clients Solve Time Management Problems

Recently, I have been thinking about making the 2Time methods available to consultants, coaches and trainers, or anyone who wants to use them to diagnose a client’s time management skills.

In the NewHabits program (and MyTimeDesign 1.0.Plus) I have devised several charts that participants have been using to discover their current time management profile and belt level.  The charts include an analysis of each of the 11 fundamentals.

Only after developing them did I realize… they could also be used with someone in a one-on-one coaching session.

I actually tested this approach with 2 clients — a lawyer and an accountant — and found that it saved a great deal of time, and provided them with instant insight to the habits that they needed to start working on.  Now that I have been submitting proposals to speak at conferences of Professional Organizers, I can immediately see where  they also could use these tools to do the same thing… save themselves and their clients a great deal of time by zeroing in on the habits they need to change in a systematic way.

The process would be simple, and more or less mirror the path I take in my training programs.

Step 1: Define a few key terms
Step 2: Teach one fundamental at a time, and help the client to score him/herself, and make a note of the habits to be changed.  Repeat this step for all 7 fundamentals
Step 3: List all the habits to be changed
Step 4: Schedule the habit-changes on a calendar
Step 5: Craft a fool-proof habit-support system

I might be overly ambitious, but I think that a skilled coach can take a smart client through the 7-fundamental version of this learning in a matter of 4-5 sessions of one hour each, as long as the client is willing to do some work on  their own.

A full one day class covering the same material takes at least 7 hours, and that includes the time to do the “homework,” so I think that my estimate might be an accurate one.

I know that most professional organizers focus their efforts on physical de-cluttering, and that a few also venture into the area of time management.  Maybe with the right tools, I could empower many more to expand the work they do, and provide some unique insight to their clients, with the help of an easy-to-use turn-key system.

On a side note, I have noticed that  when a consultant lacks a systematic process in time management, they are forced to use a fairly random bunch of anecdotes, personal practices and rules of thumb, without having a structured method to ensure that all the important bases are covered.  This kind of approach is hard to sustain with a smart client who asks lots of questions, and can’t understand why they should follow anyone else’s habit pattern, even if it’s written up in a best-seller.

With a thorough analysis of the 7 fundamentals that makes room for all levels of skill, they should be able to coach everyone from the novice employee to the most seasoned executive.

If you are interested in following the next steps I take towards getting this train-the-trainer program going, Let me know via email using the Contact form in the main menu at top.

Until then, let me know what you think about the idea in general.  Would it work?  Does it need additional content to make it easy to use?  Drop me a comment with your thoughts.

Time Management Training: A Waste of Time

I found this article interesting, but it had way more bark than actual bite.

It argues that time management training doesn’t work because most people get inundated by email when they get back to their desks.

At the end of the article, the author backs off the startling claim he makes in the title, because that’s not really the point he’s trying to make.  Instead, he’s right about the need for companies to change the expectations around email, and the importance of creating alternate methods for communicating urgent messages.

Time Management Training; A Waste of Time.

Giving up Scheduling on Graduation

I have been playing the video shown below in my NewHabits time management programs, primarily to illustrate Orange Belt scheduling skills.

It’s a great teaching video, as it shows clearly the advantage of using a schedule (even on paper) over a list, or personal memory. It’s an essential level of skill for college students who are taking lots of classes, have lots of assignments and want to do well.

In other words they are inundated with time demands, and many migrate to Yellow belt skills in order to deal with the volume they must handle.  As I watched the video I realized that I probably used these skills as a college student who had a full course-load, and a part-time job.

But something happened when I graduated.  All of a sudden the volume dropped, as I no longer had the same time challenges, and I recall the sense of relief I felt at no longer ever having to feel the pressure of an exam date.

Unfortunately, I also threw out the baby with the bathwater, and lost my Yellow belt Scheduling skills.

It wasn’t until later, when I started my own company, that I began to rediscover these skills.  Once again, it was in response to a huge increase in time demands, and a situation in which  I had to upgrade my skills in order to cope.

I imagine that I’m not alone here.

One of the basic tenets of Time Management 2.0 is that one’s skills are not fixed, and they change over time in response to the number of time demands we face in our lives. The problem comes when we practice our habits for so long that we lose the ability to change them, and even defend our old habits as somehow “fixed” and impossible to change.

The useful thing is to know that we can change them, and that they are indeed malleable, even though I’m sure it’s harder to teach older dogs like myself new tricks.