A User’s System for Daily Organizing

On the blog for WE magazine for women, I found an entry that is linked to an article on a Simple, Effective Approach for Time Management.

Teresa Morrow has come up with a way of using list and schedules together to plan the day, and has taken the extra step of documenting it.

She’s clearly thought about the approach that she’s using, and it sounds as if she’s been doing some experiementing with different variations on the theme.

What I loved is the end-product she’s focused on creating:  “…the system will leave you feeling proud of your accomplishments of the day.”  It’s real Time Management 2.0 thinking — that we must create our own systems.

To see the system that Teresa has created for herself, click here:   A Simple, Effective Approach for Time Management

Time Management 2.0


One of the definitions of the Web 2.0 phenomena reads as follows:

A term to generally describe web sites and services where the content is shaped partially or entirely by the users (instead of being read-only and published by a sponsoring company)

The 2Time blog is built on the idea that something similar is happening in the world of time management.  There is a migration underway and its taking us away from time management systems that are defined by others, towards systems that are  owned, defined and improved by users.

As such, it is a revolution of sorts… a shift in the way people view an essential component of their lives that is bringing with it a new level of responsibility, power and freedom.

It’s just like the revolution that Web 2.0 ushered in.  Ownership of key content, relationships and communication channels moved away from companies and towards users in a tremendous shift in power in which information-creation was democratized and individuals came to trust their own judgment, and those of many others, over that of established experts.  It has been a gradual but steady deepening of the “Wisdom of the Crowds.”

Well, strap yourselves in, because another quiet revolution is underway: “Time Management 2.0.” Some say that the Web 2.0 transformation was built on tools that were built over a decade ago, but are only just being exploited to the fullest by millions of people.  The same applies to time management, where this “new” term is actually  describing a phenomena that has always existed.

You and I have already been doing Time Management 2.0.  We sat in time management classes, or read books, nodded our heads in agreement, and afterward, went off to do our own thing.  After all, who could follow the prescriptions of someone who insisted that you label your folders this way or that, or used their new term to describe something you already understood, or who tried to redefine everyday words such as “now.”  We listened to their detailed practices and we knew deep down that we could never change our habits to fit their system.  God bless the few that could, but the rest of us were the dunces in the class who just couldn’t measure up by instantly turning over a new leaf. soapboxderby200701.jpg

Instead, we took a little from here and there and made up our own thing… sometimes it worked, but oftentimes we failed, because we couldn’t quite reverse engineer the recipe they were using.  Nevertheless, it still felt better than the feeling of overwhelm that came from reading the latest “1001 Top Tips for Time Management…”  Doing our own thing at kept put us in charge, and made us experience the success that kids sometimes feel when they also “do their own thing.”

The funny thing is that the experts haven’t noticed that we aren’t quite following the way we should.  The fact is, they sincerely believe that their systems work, and do you know… they are right. They DO work… for them.

The rest of us out here don’t need a different or better or smarter guru.  Instead, we need help to design our own system, and we need help in order to make them work to fit our needs, and our unique habits.

And that’s why “Time Management 2.0” is not a new idea, but a phrase that more accurately describes an already existing reality in a way that might help us all to get what we want at the end.  More productivity. Greater peace of mind.  Less stress.  More time spent doing important things, and less time doing trivia things.

But even these words are misleading, as each person’s interpretation of them is individual, and unique.  Therefore, the time management systems that produce them must be different from person to person as well.

This is where time management 2.0 starts — with me empowering myself to master my own time management system that produces the results I want in my life.  That has got to be a close description of what we all want.


Financial Upheavals and Better Time Management

wall_street.JPGThe recent financial upheavals have many, many people in the US scared about the future.

There is a feeling that things are spiraling out of the control of the average citizen, and that deeper, more chaotic forces have taken over.   They appear to be well outside of the influence of everyday Americans.

At times like this, people often focus on the things they can control, if only to have the experience of being able to influence their immediate world.

In a recent movie (28 Days,) I heard some excellent advice given by a pro-baseball player given to one of the patients in a rehab center.

The essence of his advice was that a pitcher needs to focus on the part of the pitch that he/she can control.  This equates to the sum of the moments that occur before the ball leaves the hand of the pitcher, and includes ensuring that their weight is balanced and that their eyes are looking at the target.

At times like these, people naturally turn to those things over which they have some control.  For example, their money management, relationships, qualifications for work, travel plans and health all come up for scrutiny.

Their time management habits are no exception, as they become more conscious of where they are unhappy with how their daily time is being used.  They look back at a typical day or week and determine that they could have used the time in a much better manner.

They also know deep down that they can’t get control of other aspects of their life if they are not able to manage their time differently.  Taking control of their health, for example, could mean making time for exercise.

It’s at this point that a user would do well to take an inventory of their current time management system.  In the 2Time approach, this is an easy step to take because of how  the 11 fundamentals and the belt system work together.

When used together, they give excellent insight into the gaps that exist in a user’s time management system.  They also provide the user with an opportunity to think about what kind, and volume of time demands they would like their time management system to handle.

If they realize that they want to take charge of their financial future by starting their own business in their spare time, for example, they could decide that their habits would have to change to handle this new challenge.

What is most exciting however, is what might not be mentioned — the fact that they are taking control of their time management system for the first time in their careers.  It dawns on them that they have been using “something” to manage their time that they have ignored for much of their professional lives.

The experience of taking control, for the first time, of something that’s so important is one that’s quite empowering.  Those that benefit the most are those that are determined to come out of the upcoming financial crisis stronger than when it started.

This goal is within everyone’s reach, and requires us to be willing to take advantage of the down-time, instead of merely “hunkering down” and retreating into our shells.


Component/Fundamental #11 – Reviewing v2

A critical skill used in any well-functioning time management system is that of reviewing and improving.


Reviewing is the skill of looking over both the contents of the time management system AND its functioning, with a view to preventing problems and improving the user’s personal productivity. There are two kinds of reviews, Content Reviews and System Reviews.

  1. Reviewing Content
    In order to prevent a time management system from exploding at any time, a user needs to investigate the content in each of the components at regular intervals to ensure that the pipeline of time demands is not about be filled, or clogged. The best users are always referring back to the contents of their time management system in order to:

    • update items in lists and schedule
    • adjust the timing of tasks in a schedule
    • place new items in their capture points
    • dispense email from their in-box to different folders and lists

    They set certain standards for themselves with respect to how often to review critical lists such as their “Waiting For” lists and “Thinking About” lists. Continue reading “Component/Fundamental #11 – Reviewing v2”

Component #10 – Warning v2

No user’s system is perfect, and all systems are liable to fall apart at the seams when pressure hits and certain practices (like Reviewing) fall by the wayside.


What a smart user at a high level will do is to create a series of warnings that indicate whether or not the system is operating adequately. Ideally, these warnings should be designed to come early – long before there is any danger of the system failing.

Warning involves putting in place automated signals that tell the user that the system is about to fail. Continue reading “Component #10 – Warning v2”

Component/Fundamental #9 – Switching v2

One of the most important tasks that a user of any time management system must perform is to switch from one task to another. While this may seem like a simple action, the more capable users include practices that are unique.


Switching is defined as stopping one task, looking at all the time demands, and deciding what to do next.


Advanced users take great care about switching, knowing that there is always a temptation to switch too quickly. To do so is to court disaster.

  1. Firstly, the most advanced users cherish the moments when they are in the flow of any activity – in fact, a major goal of their system is to stay in the flow as long as possible without interruption. Continue reading “Component/Fundamental #9 – Switching v2”

Component/Fundamental #8 – Interrupting v2


In the book titled “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author talks about the optimal psychological state – one in which a person gets lost in the activity at hand. They get lost in time, and experience a kind of empty silence as they focus all their attention on the task at hand. Their creativity and productivity are as high as they can get.

Then the phone rings, someone answers it and someone wants to sell them stocks. They brush off the call, but not quickly enough. Their state of flow is gone.

They buckle down again, and 30 minutes later they are back in the flow state. They are once again focused, and time whizzes by.

That is, until they get a note from their spouse via their secretary that screams at them because they forgot to pick up their child, who is now languishing at the day care facility, and all of a sudden they are over two hours late.

While the state of flow is the best possible one to be in, it is potentially a dangerous one, because one’s full range of awareness is intentionally limited to complete the task at hand.

To effectively manage time, a user needs methods for both entering and interrupting the flow state. Continue reading “Component/Fundamental #8 – Interrupting v2”

Component/Fundamental #7 – Listing v2

A critical part of any time management system is the activity of Listing.

In the prior component, Scheduling, I addressed the power of expanding the use of a schedule from a mere Appointment Calendar to a possibly useful planner of each and every kind of activity that places a time demand on a user.

As useful as a schedule is, however, it has its limits.

Any user that tries to schedule too many items into a calendar will ultimately cause their calendar to fail from the weight of too many time demands. At the moment, there is no calendaring system or technology that exists that will not fail from over-scheduling.


Listing involves putting a time demand on a list that is created to pull together items that share some common attribute.

Continue reading “Component/Fundamental #7 – Listing v2”

Component/Fundamental #6 – Scheduling

Scheduling is one of the major activities that take place in any time management system.

This entry, therefore, should be read after the entries in the post Ways to Use a Calendar have been read and thoroughly digested, for the ideas here to make sense.


Scheduling is taking a time demand and converting it into a time-slot in the calendar that has a defined start-time and end-time, on a specific date.

When the need arises, appointments are swapped around to different time-slots, depending on the circumstances at hand.


Component/Fundamental #5 -Storing (and Retrieving) v2

Often, critical information enters a capture point that needs to be stored for later use. It may come as part of a time demand, such as a note placed on our desk that says “Call Suzie tomorrow at 555-1616.” This particular note has both a time demand plus a critical piece of information.


When critical information is entered into a capture point, and is likely to be needed at some future time, it needs to be stored in an effective way.


Nothing should ever be stored in one’s personal memory , unless it is first stored elsewhere. Continue reading “Component/Fundamental #5 -Storing (and Retrieving) v2”