Assessing Your Time Management Skills

basketball-skill_levels.jpgA key part of the 2Time system is a notion I created of different skill levels.

Many  people think that you either have time management skills or you don’t, and that it’s an all-or-nothing phenomenon.

Few, including the time management gurus, talk about having a range of skills and working continuously to improve them over time.

Of course, in the sporting world the idea is an old one.

One of the first things that a coach does is assess his new coachee’s skills in the sport, either through testing or observation. After the assessment is done, they sit down and look over the big picture to see what the coachee’s goals are and how they can be accomplished over time.

An athlete who wants to have some fun on weekends is not given the same plan as one who wants to be world-class.

I did some searching on the Internet and picked up some assessment tools that illustrate how they can be used to assess performance in the following sports:




It’s interesting to read these, because I stumbled into creating a similar assessment for time management without knowing that I was doing so.

If you click on the link for articles above, you’ll be taken to my first attempt to create an assessment tool for each of the 11 fundamentals that I’ve discovered. Each fundamental is described in a separate post, along with the habits that can be observed at each belt level (White, Yellow, Orange, Green).

While the tool I use two years later has changed a great deal from what’s presented here, the basic idea remains. But, to be honest, I never set out to create an assessment tool. My initial idea was to break up each of the skills in a way that could indicate to users what they should focus on at each stage of their development.

I don’t intend this to be a rigid test in any way. In fact, there are probably better ways to describe both the fundamentals and the idea of moving from one skill level to another.

So far, though, I haven’t found anyone who has used the basic idea. As far as I know, I’m alone in thinking this way and writing about it.

But I do hope that that ends soon!

P.S. For anyone interested, the diagram above comes from the Noah Basketball website. They’ve done some major research in the fundamentals of basketball, and this shows the kind of thinking that I wish someone would do on time management. Against the stuff on this page, sites on “basketball tips” look a little silly.

Stickking to New Habits

stickk-logo.jpgWhile I’m happy with the ideas on this blog, and I truly believe in the power of Time Management 2.0, I still have the feeling of being stuck in Habit Changing 101.

In other words, I’m still not satisfied with the speed and ease with which I’m able to change habits.

This is THE critical point when it comes to making a change in a time management system. All the theory that I’ve addressed on this site is useless if it’s impossible for users to change their habits to implement them.

What I do know is the following:

1) Habit changing is an individual phenomenon. Each person must work with himself or herself to find the right cocktail of methods that succeed. In my case, it seems that I even need to change my approach over time, as what used to work in the past no longer works today.

2) Finding the right “cocktail” takes extraordinary self-awareness and no small measure of patience.  What we often call “laziness” and a “lack of discipline” are often not these things at all; they have more to do with a lack of awareness than a personality defect. Most people try to double their determination, and they vow to “get more serious” with themselves. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that habits have a “muscular memory” that often defies grim demands I make of myself, so that rarely works.

Last week, a partner of mine referred me to a new site — — and it truly struck a chord with me as a tool that could be added to my blend of reinforcement techniques.

The idea is simple. You create a goal, and then set up human and monetary supports to help accomplish it.

The human supports consist of people who are on, and off, Stickk to hold you to account in accomplishing it.

If that doesn’t do it for you, then here’s more — you can actually put some “cold, hard cash” at stake, so you forfeit it if you don’t accomplish your goal.

As a triathlete (and someone who’s known to be thrifty/cheap), I know that there’s a difference between the races I think about doing and those that I actually pay to do.

For example, I have a race to complete on October 31 in Montego Bay, here in Jamaica. I paid for it in July, and it’s made a tremendous difference to my training to know that it’s coming. As a result, I spent 90 minutes in the pool this morning swimming almost 3,000 meters, in my least-favored sport of the three.

I know that when I put enough money down for a race, as I did for an Ironman in 2005, I increase the odds that I’ll accomplish the goal.

In an earlier post, I shared that I used a Habit Tracker as my daily tool to perform the daily practices I’m likely to forget. One of them is particularly difficult to do each day: “Do One Thing for My Wife that’s Unseen.” I’ve been failing at this new practice in spectacular fashion, and I’m thinking that I should try the Stickk approach to see if I can “help” myself make it happen.

Maybe I live without having to be more serious, determined, or disciplined.

P.S. If you’d like to be one of my “referees” or “supporters” in working on this goal, simultaneously with testing out Stickk, shoot me a message from my Contact Page. Tell me a little about yourself and why you’d like to participate in this particular experiment.

Facebook Page

facebook.jpgI’ve just set up a new home for anyone interested in Time Management 2.0 and the challenge of creating custom time management systems.

You can now access our page “Time Management 2.0” directly with the following web address, so please bookmark

On our Facebook page, you can find the beginnings of a community that includes a discussion area plus a feed from the 2Time blog.

I look forward to seeing you there!

“I Don’t Need Time Management”

I don’t often post a copy of my ezines that I reserve for those on my mailing lists, but this month I’m making an exception.

I recently had a conversation with a colleague who kept missing deadlines while insisting that he had no time management problem. I realized that he couldn’t see his own low skills clearly. This month’s article speaks to those who think that they don’t have a problem — and why.

(If you aren’t receiving this ezine, simply request the e-book at the top left of this page and you’ll be automatically added.)

Click here, or on the link below, to be taken to this month’s issue.

Issue 12


Your Invitation to the Discussion Group

istock_000006428830xsmall.jpgFor the next two weeks, I’m opening up registration to my first discussion group here at the 2Time blog.

This online group will discuss some of the latest-breaking ideas in the area of time management that I hope to incorporate in the next version of MyTimeDesign, which should start early in the new year.

If this sounds like a plea for some help, then you’re on the right track … in part.

I am looking for some useful input on better teaching users new time management skills online.  I think that I should make that clear.

But I’m also seeking to create a temporary community in which we can talk about Time Management 2.0 and the idea of creating your own time management system. While I do have a forum here on the blog, I find that it scares off many users who aren’t used to interacting with people in this unfamiliar environment.

I’ve had more luck creating email groups in the past, so I thought that I’d set up this experimental discussion group to kinda see what happens.

The group will start today and end on November 30, 2009.

The discussion group will be moderated, and I’ll make sure that no spam makes its way through.

So — consider yourself invited!

You can join at

Free Time Management Coaching

I just came across a time management site that I’ve never noticed before. It’s called

It offers free time management coaching via a toll-free number:

Free Coaching

Call Toll Free 1-888-PRIACTA (U.S. and Canada)

I think that this is quite remarkable and might be a good source of assistance. Of course, it also might be a sales gimmick that offers more of an opportunity to purchase a course from a commissioned salesperson, rather than anything useful.

I’d love to hear what anyone has to say about the site — can’t wait to try it myself. (I’m currently traveling in the Caribbean, and the number works only in the U.S. and Canada.)

Lifelong Learning — A Way to Think About Time Management

scale-feetonscale.jpgThere’s simply no way to create a great time management system from bits and pieces of tips dug up from here and there.

But that doesn’t stop us from trying, does it?

A quick search of Twitter for the phrase “time management” or the hashtag “#timemanagement” reveals how many people are looking for tips, shortcuts, and back doors.

We all want to be able to take a pill and wake up the following morning able to manage our time better.

Rather than looking for tips, we’d all be better off treating the issue as if it were a matter of lifelong learning rather than a miraculous flash in the pan.

In other words, it’s not as if people arrive at the perfect system at some point in their lives, and all they can do from that point on is hold onto it for dear life.

Instead, it’s more important for someone to treat their time management system as if it were something like they were their weight management system.

Trying to manage your weight at the age of 45 in the same way that you did at 25 is a recipe for disaster.

In the same way, trying to hold onto the same time management system, regardless of changes in the following aspects of your life, is just as crazy:

  • Retirement or working
  • Type of job
  • Commuting time (or working at home)
  • Number of kids
  • Technology availability
  • Marital status
  • Ability to remember

It’s a better idea to see time management skills as something that you must change over time — and continually redesign. One thing we do know is that a poor time management system can lead to regrets of all shapes and sizes, particularly as your life draws to a close.

As Weak as Your Weakest Link

chain.jpgOne of the joking complaints I receive in my NewHabits workshops has to do with my decision to grant belts only when users have shown themselves to be proficient across the board at that level.

In other words, no Yellow Belt is awarded to an individual until each of the fundamental disciplines is at a Yellow Belt level.

Some might say that this is unfair, but I think the principle is a sound one.

A time management system is well constructed when all of the interrelated parts work well together. One faulty part can cause the entire system to fail. The parts happen to be interdependent with one another, much in the way that one foot depends on the other when someone attempts to run.

Time demands that enter our lives are dealt with by one fundamental, and then another, until those demands are completed.

Some might say that the fundamentals are like different swimming strokes — freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. They are each independent strokes that have little to do with one another.

A time management system, however, is more like an individual medley event in which a swimmer is handicapped if one stroke is ineffective. The entire race suffers because one stroke is weak.

One of the problems that most commercial time management systems like Getting Things Done, Do It Tomorrow and others have is that they’re strong in some fundamentals and weak in others. Users aren’t taught how to upgrade their time management systems beyond the example provided — or taught that it’s even an option.

Users need to be savvy and understand that their time management system is something that fits only them. No one else’s system will provide a perfect fit, and they shouldn’t try to force themselves into someone else’s habit or pattern.

We need to retain ownership of our time management systems as we read this blog, read David Allen’s book, or take Covey’s class. They should all be seen as useful inputs to OUR systems and as possible sources of assistance as we perfect our lives.