The Idea I’m Really Excited By – A Smorgasbord!

What the survey I conducted confirmed for me is a hunch I have had that people need a lot more help in implementing their time management improvements.

Only 5% said No to the question: “If you had the right support system, could you make any change you wanted to your time management system?”

Along with the other survey results I shared earlier, it’s clear to me that people are disheartened at their inability to implement the good ideas they find on their own, or learn in training courses.

What people are looking for is a way to take even the most innocuous tip that they find, and reliably put it into play in their lives.  While the tip/idea might have some merit, it’s only those who are able to test them with actual implementation that are likely to be satisfied.

An important part of a good support system would be one that tells them the truth about the size of the challenge they have undertaken. It would radically increase the odds that they could accomplish their goal.

Also, one of the other findings from the survey is that people are more interested in upgrades, than in entirely new systems.

54% said that their systems were in need of continuous improvement, and 20% said that they were interested in  small improvements.  Furthermore, only 16% said that they were not interested in upgrading their time management system at this point in time.

It made me think that people want a way to preserve the progress they have made with their current time management systems, without a need to throw away the practices and habits they are using.  In other words, they don’t want to hear that their current system is crap, and that they need to chuck it all away in order to make an improvement.

This implies that they need a way to understand their current system, to see where it’s working and where it’s not, so that they can make the upgrades that they want.

This is a big one for me.

You may have noticed a change in my thinking on this blog, as reflected in the language I use to describe what Time Management 2.0 is all about.  In my older posts, I wrote a lot about “creating a time management system.”

Built into my first posts was an assumption that has become more important — knowing your current skill level (i.e. your current belt level) is critical to creating a new system.

What I have made much more obvious is the fact that no-one is starting from scratch, or from zero, so it’s more accurate to use the word “upgrade” than “create.”

This small difference has gotten a lot of positive feedback, as I believe that most people are interested in improving their time management systems, and don’t want to be locked into any one system or another.  Instead they want the freedom to sample different approaches, and choose what they like from each.

A smorgasbord.

This is the very opposite of those who insist that following time management system “XYZ” means marching in a military-like lock-step to its prescribed practices.  They insist that it’s adherents must learn to execute each and every step exactly as it’s designed, following the prescription down to the last letter.

I’m sure that this approach works for some people…

I suspect that most people are interested in getting to the point where they make up their own minds, rather than simply following another person’s opinions.

This is how I read the data that I collected in the survey — am I reading too much into it?
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2 Replies to “The Idea I’m Really Excited By – A Smorgasbord!”

  1. I can relate to what you suggest here. I think it is hard to find a system (in any area of life) that is an exact fit without modification. (You are right though, sometimes a system, as written, works great for specific individuals.)

    For example, I have been battling weight problems my whole life and have been trying different approaches to fat loss and fitness over many years. No one system seemed to hold all the keys for me. Right now, I have hybridized a system that consists of a nutrition plan from Joel Marion (Cheat Your Way Thin) plus Full Strength meal replacement shakes plus P90X workouts plus a visit to a trainer once each week plus elliptical cardio workouts on some days when my wife can’t do P90X with me. This combination “feels” right, fits my lifestyle, is yielding results and is something that I believe is sustainable.

    With regard to the people who only want to “upgrade” rather than replace their systems – this could either be a matter of being resistant to change or of truly having a system that serves them pretty well and only needs to be tweaked a bit. This is akin to golfers who are not very good, but resist the idea of building a whole new swing because, even though they stink, their current swing is comfortable and they don’t like the idea of deviating radically from what they know.

    Personally, I am in a similar situation with time management systems. I have tried many over the years and GTD is the one that rings truest for me. I like all of the thought that has been put into it, but even after three years, I still have not been able to really make it work the way it should. I have realized that THE key to the system is a regular weekly review. Without that, the system sputters. I keep a very good and up to date calendar, but for some reason, have not been able to institute the discipline of a weekly review. This is what I am working on right now. I have also come to the conclusion that it is possible for a person to just have too much to do and no time management system can overcome that!

  2. Bob,

    Your mixed weight-management approach is a great example of the kind of hybrid approach that most of us use (and need.)

    At the end of the day, it’s hard to put a label on what you have — other than “Bob’s System!”

    With regards to the weekly review, I hear this problem a lot among people who have followed the GTD guidelines.

    My opinion is that there are other alternatives to keeping extensive lists — see the Orange and Green Belt descriptions in the Articles section — that simply don’t require an extensive review.

    When the number of time demands increases, so do the size of the lists, and the need for a long weekly review grows with it. According to 2Time, an Orange or Green Belt doesn’t need to review a list that frequently — most of the items have been placed in a calendar instead and are dealt with when the day/time comes.

    Anyone with a weekly review issue might want to consider an upgrade in the fundamentals: Scheduling and Listing.

    But I am really guessing here, and going from a quick observation as I haven’t really thought about it much.

    As for the golfers, I also think that many casual players isn’t willing to invest in the time and coaching required to acquire a whole new swing. They’ll never turn pro, so…

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments! Would love to hear your reaction to anything I’ve said here.

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