2Time – a System versus a Framework

tinkertoy.jpgFrom the very beginning of writing about time management, I have struggled with how to describe something new using language that is not quite up to the task.

For example, while I know that there is no such thing as “time management,” I find myself forced to use the phrase because it’s the best one that exists.  All the substitutes sound quite strange, in comparison.

The same applies to the description of 2Time as a “system.”   While my intention in this blog has not been to create another system, I have found that there are not too many words that I can use instead of the word “system.”

When I pulled 2Time together I thought of it as a set of insights that could be useful to all professionals.  It would assist them in growing their time management system from what they currently have, to what they want it to be. The starting and ending points would be up to them, defined and created for their own use.

The worse thing that would happen would be for someone to say that they went from using Covey, to GTD® to 2Time.

I don’t want to present another system for people to follow, as if they were following the recipe in a book.  Instead, I am more interested in inspiring professionals to design for themselves, with any assistance that I can provide with the 2Time  framework.

But first, they must become committed to taking charge of their time management systems, and be willing to spend time to understand why it works and doesn’t work.  (I am simply not qualified to tell them that any system is better than the one they are using!)

In that sense, I prefer to think of 2Time (and the NewHabits-NewGoals and MyTimeDesign by-products) as a framework that can include all time management systems, whether they are developed by the user or not, or sold commercially or not.  This framework is really comprised of a set of design rules that can be used in a variety of ways:

– Diagnosis:  2Time can be used to understand where a time management system is  lacking in some way

– Design:  2Time can be used to  put together a new system

– Planning: 2Time can be used to create a plan for changing one’s approach to time management over a period of years

In this sense, it brings some structure to an activity that most professionals have already been doing, contrary to the conventional wisdom of how people use time management systems.

Conventional  wisdom: a professional takes a time management class, learns a system of practices to start doing and then tries to start following them each day… against the odds

 New wisdom:  a professional takes ownership of their time management system, and is always on the lookout for ways to enhance it by borrowing ideas, practices  and techniques from whatever source might offer them.  They monitor its effectiveness and make changes as needed.

As I have said in prior posts, the “new wisdom” is simply a truer description of what MOST people have already been doing, without saying so explicitly.  It’s just too hard to follow a time management system designed for someone else, no matter how smart or productive they are.  Our habits and idiosyncrasies won’t allow it.

My goal for 2Time is that it helps professionals see this fact, and make the shift from “following a system” to “owning a system.”  This would be putting it to its proper use.

The trick is that that’s more than a mere “framework” is supposed to do, and sounds more like something that a “system” accomplishes.  Hence the dilemma — should I call 2Time a framework, a system, or something else entirely?

I welcome your comments!

3 Replies to “2Time – a System versus a Framework”

  1. I prefer “productivity” to “time management.” Time management is a frequently used but loaded phrase that encourages people to measure results by volume rather than impact. The implication is always that getting 10 tasks done in a two-hour period is better than one task with 10 times the impact. On the other hand, if you’re trying to bring productivity training to institutions, you’re much more apt to connect with them using the rubric of time management.

    I think people tend to exaggerate other people adherence to a system or framework. Unfortunately we have an intellectually lazy habit of throwing around words like “cult” or “guru,” insinuating that those to take the principles of a particular framework serious must be sheep. Realistically, virtually everyone interacts with a system up to a point, then moves on. Conversation would be very tedious of people had to qualify every discussion of a system with, “I don’t agree with everything about this system, but . . .”

    In other words, I think you’re right. What most people do is adopt selectively, even if they don’t advertise it. I don’t really see that as optional. You can’t sustainably adopt the parts of a system you disagree with.

  2. Andre,

    Your point about the “10 tasks” is well taken.

    The truth is that there is no agree upon unit of action called a “task” — one man’s task is another man’s project, so it’s crazy to even think about using the completion of a certain number of tasks as a measure of anything (except maybe insanity!)

  3. I was a Covey and Daytimer user and trainer for many years and I used to think that Time Management was the issue. After reading David Allen’s GTD book early this year, I’ve discovered that it isn’t time that I have difficulty with, but the tasks that fill that time. So I prefer to think of it as task management, and GTD seems to do a good job of enhancing my productivity.

    I found an application that allows me to view my entire GTD at work on my Win machine, at home on my Macs and even on my cell phone. And another app lets me call in tasks to my GTD without any writing or typing, great for those thoughts that hit me while driving. I’ve written about my experiences with GTD in a blog post at http://johnkendrick.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/more-getting-things-done/ John

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