One of the ideas that we promote here at 2Time Labs is that each person needs a time management system that effectively allows them to handle the number of time demands that show up in their life on a daily basis. The corollary to this statement is the idea that each person doesn’t necessarily need a system that can handle more time demands than they’ll ever get.
The underlying notion is that one size doesn’t fit all, and we have decided to distinguish the different “sizes” in terms of their capacity to deal with time demand volume. While the technology doesn’t exist to measure these differences, we have described them in relative terms, with the belt system of skills.
At the top end there are Green Belts who have the most advanced skills and can handle the most time demands, and at the low end there are White Belts who have the most basic skills and can handle the least time demands.
Now, there is some evidence showing up in new articles that there is a different way to think about these differences. It backs up our direct observations gained from programs and coaching sessions.
The idea in a nutshell is that the most time-pressed individuals have so many time demands that consume so much of the day/week, that they only have a few extra hours to play with each week.
In other words, when they add up all the things that they are committed to doing, or must do “or else,” the number of hours left over each week add up to les than 20. Or 10. Or even 0.
Think President Obama. Or a CEO or business-owner. These are the hyper-committed professionals who have what we call “A Green Belt Life” (even if they only have White Belt Skills.)
Unfortunately, living with skills that can’t handle the number of time demands that come into one’s life is often stressful. The result of a severe mismatch between volume and skills is that stuff falls through the cracks, appointments are missed or started late, clutter accumulates, sleep is lost, etc. By definition, there is a cost that must be paid.
Here is an article from Lifehacker in which the author describes a Green Belt life at a time when he was a Project Manager. He describes just the kind of life that we have in mind. How to Focus and Stay Productive When You’re Expected to Always be Available.
Here’s an excerpt:
When I was a project manager, I had meetings every single day. Even worse, I was responsible for scheduling most of them. I learned pretty quickly that the only time I could truly tell people I was “unavailable” were the times that were blocked off on my calendar (and even then, they’d ignore it, but that’s another problem entirely.) So I started scheduling my work—or times when I was head-down and wanted everyone to know I was busy. Then I started specifically scheduling my breaks so people would know when I wasn’t around and when I’d be back.
Here’s he’s using the advanced Scheduling skills that we associate with an Orange Belt – his schedule has become the main focal point of all activity. Also, here’s a video from Microsoft Outlook that gives a pretty graphic picture of a soccer Mom that also has a Green Belt life. The juggling that she must do with her schedule is quite typical of someone who only has a few spare hours here and there in her life, and is always moving stuff around in response to what shows up. (BTW, we don’t advocate the habit of interrupting your Yoga session to check email!)