Improving Time Management Over the Years

led_digital_watch_red_70s_type_display.jpgI just read an interesting article from the New York Times exploring the reasons why free-throw shooting in basketball has not improved over the years.

Apparently, the success-rate of free-throws in the NBA and college basketball has remained unchanged at approximately 69% since the mid 1960’s.  The authors of the piece make the case that not enough has changed over the years to cause the overall average to shift, and in particular they point out some areas in which little or nothing has changed.

Here is an excerpt:

Ray Stefani, a professor emeritus at California State University, Long Beach, is an expert in the statistical analysis of sports. Widespread improvement over time in any sport, he said, depends on a combination of four factors: physiology (the size and fitness of athletes, perhaps aided by performance-enhancing drugs), technology or innovation (things like the advent of rowing machines to train rowers, and the Fosbury Flop in high jumping), coaching (changes in strategy) and equipment (like the clap skate in speedskating or fiberglass poles in pole vaulting).

This made me wonder — what are the equivalent factors in the area of time management that would have to change in order for the average professional’s productivity to improve?

Here are some candidates for factors that have impacted personal productivity in the past 50 years:

Technology — the ability to transport the modern tools of communication and organization has unchained professionals from their desks, and that is a benefit.  However, the poor use of gadgets has helped to make some users more inefficient than they were before

Practice — the little codification that has occurred in books such as Getting Things Done and on the 2Time Management blog has brought some level of standardization to a haphazard field with no established standards, and little proper research

Coaching —  while there remains little or no standardized training for time management, many pick up a book or do an online course to learn how to improve their time management skills

Measurement — in the case of basketball and many other sports, it is easy to determine how effective a player is relative to his/her peers.  Not so time management, which unfortunately for most, remains in the dark ages when it comes to having simple, empirical measures of success that can be used to compare one user to another, or even to record simple changes that a user makes in their time management system.

Of these factors, I believe that a real breakthrough will come when a fool-proof method is derived for measuring personal productivity.

Here in the 2Time approach, I advocate the use of a personal test — “what does this do to my peace of mind?”  However,  this test is hardly empirical.

Until the day comes when a solid method of measurement is created,  it will be impossible to improve time management from year to year with any reliability.