Are There Other Fundamentals?

A question I have been asking myself is whether or not there are other fundamentals aside from the 11 that I have identified in the 2Time system.

I believe there may be, and I am wide open to any ideas that others might have with a few caveats that the fundamentals share:

  1. They must be observable repeatable actionable practices. They cannot be mental, psychological, spiritual or philosophical.
  2. They must be shared by every professional. So far, the 11 fundamentals are actions that everyone undergoes, albeit unconsciously and without pre-planning. Even the Advanced practices are undertaken by everyone, although they may happen only in emergency situations.

As I said before, I am wide open to new ideas… do let me know!

The Big Questions in Life

faster.jpgOne of the aspects of 2Time that I wonder about is whether or not it should deal with the BIG questions of life – Purpose, Values, Vision, Mission etc.

Should I also be in the business of helping people to define their goals in life, and have them become aligned with the loftier themes? After all, my thinking goes, so what if someone is more effective if all they are able to do is to do more nonsense… but just do it faster?

Is it a mistake to disregard these “more important themes?”

In short, I worry that the diagram on the left will come true for 2Time users – making them a bunch of people who are trying to speed things up for no good reason.

Yet, I also often think that people spend more time trying to recover from the mistakes they make in time management, than they do in writing out their top five New year’s Resolutions. In other words, they are more burdened by the time demands in their lives that they think they might have forgotten, than they are by existential questions regarding their true destiny.

Another way of saying this is – the bigger questions don’t matter when you have lost the grocery list for the umpteenth time in the supermarket. In fact, they become very, very insignificant. Continue reading “The Big Questions in Life”

An Interesting Post About Belts

black_belt_karate.jpgI ran across the following post called “Ready to Test for Your Belt” that echoes some of my thinking about belts, and moving up from one level of skills to another. It originates from David Allen, the author of the book “Getting Things Done®.”

“READY TO TEST FOR YOUR BELT?”Lately some rather sophisticated people have asked me what I initially thought was a rather unsophisticated question: “How do I know what belt I’m at?” In other words, in the martial art of workflow, they wanted to know how well they were doing – how far they were from earning the coveted black belt in the Getting Things Done school of self management. One, a senior engineer, said, “David, you keep referring to ‘black belt’ and several of the attributes it signifies. There must be some way to determine how far along we might be in that continuum.” Though he excused his curiosity in the matter to his system-oriented mindset, I realized he had a good point. When I studied karate, the belt rankings were highly useful as milestones, often motivating me to keep going when I would hit plateaus in my training during which I wasn’t very aware of my progress. As I went from white to green to brown belt rankings over the course of four years, I could sense the next level up as a reachable step, when black belt would seem too elusive a goal.

So for those of you who may share that interest in some kind of marker for determining your rank, I’ll proffer a set of characteristics for the belts.

Read the full article.

I find his comments above to be similar to my own thinking about the fact that a belt system helps people to organize their thinking and find ways to make steady progress on their own.

An Aspect of “Storing”

reels.jpgA client of mine shared a common story that I have heard many times. She spent hours entering all her contact information into an electronic device only to have the device die with all the information within it lost forever.

While this may seem to be a good one to blame on the device, the truth is that at higher belt levels, this simply doesn’t happen. Purchasing a reliable system is only one aspect. Much more important is the ability to easily and systematically back up critical information that has been stored.

Recently I read some material on risk management that gave me pause for thought. While it was addressing the issue of a natural disaster, I could see that some of my valuable systems were faulty. I moved into action when I realized that I had quite a few vulnerabilities, including my contact list. This is one of the most important information sources that I maintain, and to lose it completely would be unthinkable. Here is what I do to protect the information: Continue reading “An Aspect of “Storing””

Level 1 and Level 2 Components

I am fortunate to have gotten an excellent idea from a reader of this blog to change the way I look at the 11 fundamentals.

In a prior entry, I split the 11 fundamentals into 2 groups: major and minor. The reader made the point that thie unfortunate language made it seem as if some were more important than others, when that was not my intention.

He or she recommended that I use “Level 1 and Level 2” instead. This makes perfect sense and thanks for the suggestion, as it’s a great one.

The Ridiculously Overflowing Inbox

email-hell.jpgWhile there have been quite a few posts on various blogs about maintaining a Zero Inbox, or an Empty Inbox for email, I take the opposite tack and assert that an overflowing in-box of a sign of lack of productivity.

This is not meant as a value judgment or a moral conclusion.

Instead, it is meant to say that a full in-box is a sign that one or more of the 2Time practices has not been mastered. The truth is, an empty in-box is the result of several practices that have been mastered to a significant degree, although I couldn’t say which belt level it corresponds to yet. It is a complex result to accomplish.

Here are some ways to destroy the ideas of an Empty Inbox when performing the different practices of 2Time.

Major and Minor Components

While I was developing the NewHabits-NewGoals pilot offered in January, I realized that there was a difference between what I called the major components and the minor ones. In this way, the 11 components can be neatly split into 2 groups for easier explanation.

The difference is easy to understand.

The Major components are Capturing, Emptying, Tossing, Acting Now, Storing, Scheduling and Listing. The Minor components are Interrupting, Switching, Warning and Reviewing.

The Major components are the ones that preoccupy users who find themselves at the lower belt levels. Their time is spent mostly in mastering the practices and habits in those components.

The Minor components naturally become more of a concern at higher belt levels, when users have gained a certain level of proficiency in the Major components.

Of course, this rule is not hard and fast, but only an observation that I turned into a teaching tool to help students concentrate their energies in the right place.

2time’s Time and Motion Basis

time-and-motion.jpgOne of the key inspirations behind the 2Time way of thinking happens to be the time and motion techniques I learned as an undergraduate in Industrial Engineering.

The idea behind the technique is simple – observe each physical motion taken by a person performing a task of some kind. Record it, and analyze it using some common sense, then experiment with improvements. Use metrics to determine whether or not the improvement is a valid one.

When I look at someone’s time management system, I naturally have an inclination to see what they are trying to do in “time and motion terms”, coming from my formal training in this area. This might be why the 11 components are observable, and when I think about habits I don’t think of principles like “Put First Things First”. Instead, I think of “brushing your teeth” or “smoking cigarettes”.

Seeing people’s habits broken down in this way makes things much easier to understand, and to appreciate. It also makes comparisons between different systems much easier to make. Continue reading “2time’s Time and Motion Basis”