Unconscious Time Management Systems

time-management-20070522.jpgEvery single human being is using some kind of time management system, whether they are aware of it nor not.

The above statement is one of the core principles of Time Management 2.0, and I think I am on firm ground in saying that everyone who comes to this blog is using some kind of system at this very moment.

At some point in the average day, we consider a mental or written list of actions that we’d like to complete, and make some decisions about the amount of time we have at our disposal. We know intuitively that we must make choices, and in the average day we are unlikely to get “everything” done, unless we define “everything” to be the same as “nothing” or “close to nothing.”

The habits that we use to make these choices, execute them, and think about them afterwards comprise the elements of our time management system.

I have surmised from anecdotal evidence that most users develop their systems as teenagers. That they do so without guidance can be a problem. The problem comes when their life commitments overwhelm their systems, and they don’t know how to respond.

This can happen slowly, such as the case of a steady increase in job responsiblities. Or, it can happen suddenly with a big life change, such as a promotion, or getting married. Iin either case there is a palpable feeling of being overwhelmed and burdened. Some will bury their heads, others will complain and a few will try to escape their obligations by retreating in some way.

And perhaps most will simply take time away from other things such as their job, their family or their leisure-time, in order to get the most important things done.

In essence, they only have one way to do things, and often believe that the answer to the problem is to buckle down and do more of what they always do.

The “more” often takes the form of making decisions to procrastinate less, try harder, be more focused, get serious, apply themselves, etc. These approaches rarely work, because a time management system built for a 19 year old does not work for the same person at age 39 because the system is being mis-applied, rather than because of a character flaw. Feelings of guilt and frustration are the kind of feelings that come from these kinds of unworkable improvements.

When users understand a few basics of Time Management 2.0, however, life becomes much simpler.

  • Basic #1: I am using a time management system that I developed for a prior time in my life
  • Basic #2: I can upgrade my time management system to fit my current commitments and habit-style
  • Basic #3: Once I upgrade, I will only benefit if I manage the system on a continuous basis and revisit my design when the need arises

Users who becomes conscious, in other words, gives themselves a gift of expanded choices, so that they can escape the self-blame and guilt that is often experienced as their lives become increasingly complex.