Schedule and Forget It

One of the benefits of having a higher belt (Orange and Green) and switching time demands from lists to a single schedule is that there is a certain peace of mind that’s available.

This is especially true for a high number of time demands.

The reason for peace of mind is simple, and it starts at the moment when a time demand is Emptied from a Capture Point.  If the time demand is converted to a segment in your Schedule, then you have set time aside in the future to get it done.

If the time demand is added to a List, then you have also implicitly set time aside to get the item done in the future, but there is a major difference from the prior option.

When the item is added to a Schedule, you can forget about it until the date/time approaches as long as you have a reliable method for interrupting what you’re doing to remind yourself to get started.

By contrast, when the item is added to a List, something a bit dangerous happens after it’s added:
1.  you make a mental note to yourself of the time that it’s due, or the completion date that would represent a late one
2.  you start to make an effort to remember this due date
3.  when you check your list each day, you must revisit the item to ensure that the due date hasn’t passed, redoubling your effort to remember

The overall effect is that you must revisit the List to check on the item, much in the way that a mother fusses over her baby while it’s sleeping.   This fussing isn’t a problem when the number of time demands is small, but when the total number of items in a List exceeds a certain number, the technique becomes counter-productive.

That’s when we need the relief and peace of mind that Scheduling affords.  The moral of the story is that when the number of time demands grows past a certain point, then it’s better to “Schedule and Forget It” rather than “List and Fuss Over It.”

Blackberry Addiction in South Africa

It seems that the Crackberry addiction is now afflicting South Africa, much as it has caught on here in Jamaica, where they have become a hot item for thieves.

What caught my eye is the symptoms of smartphone abuse, that I can truly relate to now that I own a Blackberry (it’s been less than a month.)

  • Feeling anxious if one cannot access one’s e-mail or retrieve text and instant messages, or are outside cellphone signal range to receive or make calls;
  • There is an uncontrollable need to check one’s BlackBerry every few minutes to see if there are new messages;
  • Mistaking random sounds as a ringtone or message alert for BlackBerry’s messaging service, BBM; and
  • Panic attacks when unable to locate one’s BlackBerry or if one has left a smartphone at home

The funniest part of the interview is that part where RIM’s representative says that “BlackBerry smartphones have freed people from their desks so that they have the flexibility and time to do the things that matter to them in their social and family lives.”

This is so wrong on many levels that I had a laugh at it… but it worries me that RIM only sees this teensy-weensy slice of the overall picture.

His comment deserves a post of its own, but until them, here’s the link to the article:  South Africans want to break smartphone addiction.

Hierarchy of the Un-Productive

I have noticed that when I work with people I am becoming quite a quick (and maybe unfair)judge of their ability to manage their time.

It might be because I have spent too much time thinking about and writing this blog, with its belt levels, time demands, practices, habits and the like.  I am always observing managers and executives to see what methods they are using to manage their time.

After all, almost everything I have learned about managing my own time has come from seeing what others are using — all I have done is to put some bits and pieces together to create the 2Time Management approach.

I have mentioned my acid-test on this blog:  when someone comes to me with a “great” idea I ask them to “call me next week Friday at 2:30pm.”  Most are unable to make the appointment, or even to remember that it was missed after the fact.  When confronted, they refer to their inability to remember stuff like that.

Here is a synopsis of professionals I have worked with who demonstrate different levels of productivity.  I might be a bit harsh in my judgments, but you may recognize some of these traits.

Alvin the Avoided
He is unreliable to the point that people around him refuse to work with him.  He may never know that he is being avoided, but he is the last person asked to undertake anything important.

Edna the Earnest
Edna is someone with the best intentions in the world, but none of the skills that it takes to manage her time well.  She lives and dies on the quality of her memory, and is reliable on good days, and simply awful on bad days.

Fred the Fearful
Fred does life simply — he refuses to do too much work for fear that it will be overwhelming.  His “plate is always full” and he is ready to provide  evidence of that sentiment at a moment’s notice.  He refuses to grow — the risk of failure is too great if he does and he insists on keeping things the same, no matter what.

Hurricane Harry
Harry is a very hard worker who always seems to be in the middle of a crisis.  He’s the right guy to have in such a case, but he’s hardy saving lives in the ER and he’s not a professional fireman.  The chaos around him makes him a dangerous person to entrust with very much, as it’s sure to be turned into a crisis of some kind instead of being resoved in an orderly, quiet manner.

There are others to be sure, and I am open to some suggestions to add to this list of observable types.