The Half-Life of Time Demands


As explained in the post on Time Demands, each Time Demand is made up of some kind of trigger, plus a commitment. For example, that sock lying in the corner represents a Time Demand with the trigger being a visual sighting of the sock, and the commitment perhaps being the desire to have a clean room.

A Time Demand is the basic element of the 2Time Management system.

The 2Time system is all about recognizing Time Demands for what they are and treating them in a very specific manner. They are the smallest elements of a time management system, but they need to be understood differently from the system as a whole.

In the book “Stumbling on Happiness“, Dan Gilbert states:

“In general, many of us have the mistaken idea that large numbers are like small numbers, only bigger. As such, we expect them to do more of what small numbers do, but not anything different. So, for instance, we know that two neurons swapping electrochemical signals across their axons and dendrites cannot possibly be conscious. Nerve cells are simple devices, less complex than walkie-talkies from Sears, and they do one simple thing, namely, react to the chemicals that reach them by releasing chemicals of their own. If we blithely go on to assume that ten billion of these simple devices can only do ten billion simple things, we would never guess that billions of them can exhibit a property that two, ten or ten thousand cannot.Consciousness is precisely this sort of emergent property–a phenomenon that arises in part as a result of the sheer number of interconnections among neurons in the human brain and that does not exist in any of the parts or in the interconnection of just a few.”

A time management system, and the corresponding productivity that it accomplishes, is an emergent phenomenon. As an entire system, it is impossible to improve personal productivity as an entity without dealing with how Time Demands operate, and changing the system or process that deals with them. In other words, show me someone’s habitual way of dealing with Time Demands, and I can tell you something about their productivity.

This is why working harder and longer hours doesn’t give the experience of greater productivity. Neither does shedding responsibilities or cutting ties. Instead, the way to increase productivity is to understand the essential components of a time management system, and how it can be structured to deal with Time Demands.

Time Demands are essential to a time management system, but they have a life of their own.

For one thing, they are specific to the individual. When I shave my face, and wipe the sink, in my mind I satisfy a Time Demand. To my wife, however, I have created one for her and as soon as I am done she sometimes swoops in with a sponge and a bottle of cleaner to satisfy HER Time Demand of a clean sink, as she defines it.

Time Demands are individual because they are based on personal, specific commitments.

Also, Time Demands disappear once they are completed to the satisfaction of the user. It is as if they never existed, and there is a is a distinct feeling that is experienced upon completion – a physic state – that is absolutely missing just a moment before.

Furthermore, Time Demands that are incomplete have a weight to them that we humans are very sensitive to. When the number of Time Demands exceeds a certain threshold, we start to feel stressed, especially when they are being carried around only in our heads.

For example, when a Novice attempts to capture Time Demands in their minds (without writing them down) there comes a point when their memory fails. At that point, they cannot reliably hold any further Time Demands in their mind and if they happen to attend a meeting with some critical new Time Demands placed on them, they probably feel stressed and overwhelmed.

By contrast, an Orange Belt may have a difficult time seeing why the Novice is stressed because they are able to deal with many, many more Time Demands without feeling the least bit worried. Their practices are able to process and deal with a much larger number.

In a sense, the goal of 2Time is to help users to craft personal methods for dealing with the Time Demands that they place on themselves by virtue of their level, variety and intensity of commitments.