Makers vs. Managers

This is an interesting essay from Paul Graham that describes two very different mindsets to how one’s time is used throughout the day.

He distinguishes between managers who move from one activity to another from creators/makers who need to have large amounts of time to innovate.   Managers think in terms of hours, while creators think in terms of half days.

It’s an interesting concept, but I don’t believe it’s as cut and dry as he suggests.  Instead, I’d say that ineffective managers don’t create anything, and run around from one fire to another.  Those who are effective set time aside to creatively make things better, and they do it routinely.  They prevent problems from happening by virtue of the advanced problem-solving that they do, and are known for doing the kind of long-range planning that’s the cornerstone of good management.

Nevertheless, the way in which managers and makers think is different (even if it shouldn’t be) and he does a good job of separating the two.

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule – click here to read the article.

A Fascinating Account of Improvement

I read an interesting post written by Cal Newport over at the 99% blog entitled “A Day Without Distraction: Lessons Learned from 12 Hours of Forced Focus.”

The author makes a significant change in his time management system, by adopting the practice of working only in 30 minute increments.

While the 30 minute block is an arbitrary one there are some powerful lessons that he shares from scheduling a day in advance, and then executing it accordingly.  He calls the process he used “batching.”

At the end of the day, he finds himself in the flow state for extended periods of time, which is a must for professionals who do knowledge work.  On the other hand, he has a hard time implementing the practice, as it flies in the face of many of his established and unconscious habits.

This echoes what I have found in my research, and say in my classes.  The skill of Scheduling is critical to entering into the flow state in today’s working world.  There are simply too many distractions to contend with, and it takes time and advanced planning to have all the items necessary in order to start.

Here’s the link once again:  A Day Without Distraction: Lessons Learned from 12 Hours of Forced Focus.

More Than a New Tag-Line

I have a new tag-line at my site:  “The World’s Best Resource for Time Management 2.0

It struck me a few days ago as I was looking around for resources to recommend for a class I’m teaching, that I had nowhere on the Internet to point them to better than my own site.  I don’t mean to brag, but the fact is I seem to be aggressively hunting down, processing and writing about the topic of time management at a pretty hot pace, perhaps as fast as any PhD student might do in the early phases of their research.

It’s not that I have all the ideas, even though I do have a long list of items that I want to address in new posts.  Instead, in the past few months I have found myself delving into the academic research and finding some good/bad news.  There’s some good thinking, but the bad news is that there has been little or no momentum or continuity of thought in the field.  It’s as if one or two papers are written by an author in a 3 year period, only to have them go off to do something completely different and unrelated immediately after publication.

It’s too bad, but I am determined to have this site become the single best source of time management research, wherever and whenever it’s been done in the world.

But I just don’t want a lot of depth for it’s own sake.  My eye is actually on the conversion of good ideas into upgraded habits that better the lives of working professionals around the world.  My mission is to solve the problem of unnecessary time-stress once and for all, and to bring the kind of peace of mind that we all want, in spite of having full lives, busy jobs and active families.  Fully committed, but balanced.

One thing you won’t find here… tired ideas that are repeated on hundreds of sites, buttressed by worn out cliches and superficial thinking.  There are lots of “top 10 tips for time management” floating around that say nothing new, leading many to think that they have already heard every useful message on the topic, and that there’s no need to continue listening.

All I can say is “stay tuned,” as there’s a great deal of work for us all to do to stay ahead of the increasing demands on our time, new technology and inevitable life changes.  It’s a time to pay more attention, not less, to this important aspect of our lives.

Turning Off Email Downloads

This is an article written three whole years ago (such a LONG time) that advocates turning off email downloads to your smartphone:  Ten reasons to turn off email notifications to your phone.

It makes a great case for processing email in batches, rather than continuously, which is a better way to achieve the Zero Inbox.

I’m a lucky one, I think, in this respect. By writing about the process I was following to select a smartphone, I became determined to follow the habits he describes before I got my Blackberry.  I have been able to maintain a certain discipline about checking email, and rarely find myself doing so when I don’t have time to process all my messages.

My plan is simple:  if I find myself checking email at inappropriate times, I plan to do exactly what the author of the article auggest in order to prevent a bad habit from ever taking root.

One thing I have noticed is how many messages I delete right off the bat, which makes me realize that I need to unsubscribe from a bunch of newsletters and notifications that I don’t really read.

It’s a useful article — hard to believe it’s three years old given it’s relevance today.