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.

At the same time, the field of time management is in its infancy with respect to academic research. While every professional on the planet is using a home-grown system of one kind or another, there is no field called “time management”, even as millions of people suffer each day from missed appointments, forgotten commitments, overflowing email in-boxes and a feeling of being overwhelmed.

While there are other fields from which I draw in thinking about the 2Time approach, I think that one of the reasons such a basic skill is overlooked in academia is because it does not fall neatly into one discipline or another.

When I was a student, the quality movement gave the same trouble. While corporations were busy using the approaches taught by Deming, Juran and others, institutes of higher learning (including my own) were startlingly slow to teach the subject, research it or even give it respect. Part of the reason is that the discipline didn’t fall neatly into one academic field or another, but instead drew from several.

Perhaps there will be a breakthrough in this regard in the next few years – I hope to be a part of it.