The New York Times Gets It Wrong, but a Little Right

An article in the New York Times entitled 5 Easy Steps to Staunch the Email Flood seems to fall into the trap that most time management tinkers fall into.

An author shares a system of habits that works for them and essentially tells everyone else to “follow me” based on the evidence of a single success.  It then follows with suggestions that, honestly, fly in the face of accepted best practice such as “don’t treat your Inbox like a To-Do list” which the article heartily recommends.  (This approach works only under certain conditions, according to the research done here at 2Time Labs.)

The article does get one thing right, however, when it’s author, Sam Grobart states:

But the problem with a lot of organizational systems is that they replace one anxiety (“My stuff’s not organized”) with another (“My stuff’s not organized according to this specific system”).

Not to get too Zen here, but maybe the best system is no system. Or, put another way, the best system requires the least behavior modification. A few small habits may have to be adopted, but nothing as rigorous as GTD.

He’s a bit right here, and the point made about replacing one anxiety with another is well taken and related to his second comment. I would reword the sentiment.  The best upgrade requires the least behavior modification.

The problem with GTD® and every other static system is that they don’t attempt to meet the user where he/she currently is.  Most people find themselves:

1) in habit patterns that are far from ideal that they have practiced for many years

2) without a clue, let alone a plan, for how to bridge the gap to a new ideal set of habits

3) lacking any experience in changing complex systems of habits and therefore under-estimate what’s needed to make new habits stick

The result is frequent failure, and it sounds as if the author counts himself in that number.  But the answer is not to come up with a new set of guru-drive prescriptive behaviors, even if they do seem easier. Instead, it’s better to question the game, and then change it entirely.

What users desperately need is help to figure out what small behavior changes to make first, second and third.  And, they must figure it out for themselves as one-size certainly does not fit all when it comes to time management.

The good news is that MyTimeDesign 1.0.Free is about to re-open for registration and you can see exactly what I mean when I imply that the game can be changed.  Stay tuned., and in the meantime, if you are new to this website, see the About tab above for an overview of  Time Management 2.0.