Signs of a White Belt

white-belt.jpgIn 2Time, a While Belt has the honor of being the “lowest” belt, in the sense that a user at this level is just starting out on the journey of developing their own time management system, and still has the habit of trying to rely on their memory, versus using a conscious system.

Most of the professionals who have taken the NewHabits-NewGoals and MyTimeDesign programs based on 2Time discover that they are White Belts, due in part to the rigorous standard that must be accomplished to attain the higer belts.  In these programmes, there is an important idea — that each of 11 fundamental practices can be evaluated separately.  A composite picture can be created by pulling together the scores that a user gives himself in each discipline.

It’s not too different from looking at the composite scores of a baseball player who can be evaluated by their RBI’s, Home Runs, Batting Percentage, etc.  A batter might be great in one statistic but lousy in the others, reducing their overall effectiveness.
In 2Time, professionals are advised to give themselves the lowest belt level they find when they do their personal evaluation.

At the same time, there some easy ways to tell that a  professional is operating at a white belt, or novice level,
instead of analyzing the disciplines.

White Belts have one or more of the following: A high number of unread items in Email Inboxes

  1. Missed appointments
  2. Often having to say “Sorry, I didn’t remember”
  3. A Voice-mail Inbox that is consistently full
  4. Frequent mad scrambles to find lost information stored on paper
  5. Key information that is stored electronically is not consistently backed up

A White Belt is not someone who lacks for willpower or good intentions.  As a professional, they may have a simple job that
requires no more than White Belt skills.

However, White Belt users need to be aware that their skills may not allow them to progress to bigger projects, greater
responsibilities and promotions up the corporate ladder.  They might not have the capacity to start a business in their spare time or conduct an effective exercise program.

It’s not an indictment on them per se, but it is indicative of what is needed to accomplish higher performance.

After all, Little League baseball is not Major League baseball, and it shouldn’t be.  In like manner, time management for hourly workers is not the same as time management for executives, and anyone who aspires to high performance in their career will be faced with those moments when their time management system needs an upgrade.  For those who are successful, it will probably happen several times in their careers – an occasion that requires them to develop a new time management system  in order to accomplish their new goals.

Taking the Measure of Your Time Management System

Recently, I had the first graduate of the NewHabits programme here in Kingston ask to be certified at a new belt level, and it made me wonder whether or not I have the right set of measures set up to graduate a user from a White Belt in time management to a Black Belt.

The “test” took the form of a quick interview over the phone in which I quizzed him about his practices in each of the 11 fundamentals.  He easily “passed,” and we had an interesting chat after which I prepared his Yellow Belt for delivery.

Afterwards, I wondered to myself if I measured the right thing, and it took me to a bigger question.

I don’t know whether the quality of a time management system should be determined by the way in which a user engages the critical practices, or the objective results that they are able to accomplish.

In the past, as noted in this blog, I have firmly adhered to the idea that a Green Belt in time management, for example, should have accomplished a particular level of skill in each of the 11 fundamentals the underlie all time management systems.  The ladder of belts that I created is an easy way for a user to measure his/her progress overall.

But is that the best, or only measure?I realized that there are others that could be used that could just as useful, such as:

  • the average number of unprocessed emails in his inbox / voicemail inbox /etc.
  • the average number of unread emails in his inbox / voicemail inbox /etc.
  • the amount of time it takes to reply to an email on average
  • the number of appointments that were missed during a week
  • how fresh /stale the items are in various lists
  • how many activities are determined by a schedule

These are also valid measures that can be used to evaluate the quality of a time management system that seem to deserve a place, but the problem is that the tools don’t exist to measure any of them.

The closest I have found was a recent discovery that  Xobni, the Outlook add-on, does measure a few interesting facts about an individual’s email usage.  (I re-installed the program this week after a few months hiatus, due to a system crash.) Here is an idea of what it measures:


An Interesting Post About Belts

black_belt_karate.jpgI ran across the following post called “Ready to Test for Your Belt” that echoes some of my thinking about belts, and moving up from one level of skills to another. It originates from David Allen, the author of the book “Getting Things Done®.”

“READY TO TEST FOR YOUR BELT?”Lately some rather sophisticated people have asked me what I initially thought was a rather unsophisticated question: “How do I know what belt I’m at?” In other words, in the martial art of workflow, they wanted to know how well they were doing – how far they were from earning the coveted black belt in the Getting Things Done school of self management. One, a senior engineer, said, “David, you keep referring to ‘black belt’ and several of the attributes it signifies. There must be some way to determine how far along we might be in that continuum.” Though he excused his curiosity in the matter to his system-oriented mindset, I realized he had a good point. When I studied karate, the belt rankings were highly useful as milestones, often motivating me to keep going when I would hit plateaus in my training during which I wasn’t very aware of my progress. As I went from white to green to brown belt rankings over the course of four years, I could sense the next level up as a reachable step, when black belt would seem too elusive a goal.

So for those of you who may share that interest in some kind of marker for determining your rank, I’ll proffer a set of characteristics for the belts.

Read the full article.

I find his comments above to be similar to my own thinking about the fact that a belt system helps people to organize their thinking and find ways to make steady progress on their own.

The Dead-End of Most Time Management Systems

dead-end.jpgI have been doing some research into other systems of “time management” ideas, and once again I am thinking that most of them (indeed, all I have ever seen) get themselves into all sorts of trouble.

Here is the common sequence of events:

1) A Bright Person invents a method of personal productivity that works for them, and does so powerfully.

2) The same Bright Person, being productive, packages their method into a system that they then sell in programmes. Continue reading “The Dead-End of Most Time Management Systems”

Another 2Time Analogy

orchestra-heftone_banjo_orchestra_11pc_rest_288x400.jpgI recently got an email from someone who read my blog and came away with the idea that he SHOULD be moving towards become a Black Belt. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Being a Black Belt certainly is an option for those who want it, but it is no better or worse than any other belt. It just depends on what one wants to use it for.

In this sense, the 2Time philosophy is that a time management system is like an orchestra, made up of 11 possible instruments (if there is such a thing). At any given time, anywhere from zero to 11 positions can be filled, and each has its own kind of music. Continue reading “Another 2Time Analogy”

2Time and Technology

One of the messages of 2Time is a difficult one – that users who are not technologically savvy are choosing to limit their productivity.

It might not be obvious as to why this is the case, but one of the major reasons has to do with portability. A user who is unable to travel with their schedule from place to place simply is not as effective as one who is not stuck with a desk-based or paper-based system.

They will end up wasting their own time, and that of others, as they take time to consult their schedules, wherever they may be, simply because they are unable to master a PDA or similar device. Continue reading “2Time and Technology”

List of 100 Steps to GTD Mastery

I thought that this list, The GTD® Mastery 100 – Checklist for Greatness, was an interesting one, as it uses the idea of a progression of skills from one level to another. The idea of having to work through 100 items is daunting, but it still makes for interesting reading.

I do think, however, that it would benefit from being organized around the 2Time fundamentals.

Add up your score monthly and track in your GTD journal. Work with a coach to get to 90 or above.
The Basics
1. I have read Getting Things Done from front to back.

2. I have a calendar, which is always on hand.

3. I use my calendar for appointments and day-specific items only.

4. I have a physical inbox, which I use daily.

5. I have an email program, set up the way I want it. Continue reading “List of 100 Steps to GTD Mastery”

Hate the Martial Arts’ Belt System?

belts.jpgA keen reader made the point recently that the martial arts structure built into 2Time might have some drawbacks. One is that the martial arts are seen by some as being difficult, arduous and combative. 2Time, on the other hand, is meant to be natural and organic. Perhaps it could be compared with the non-violent martial arts, if there are any!

Also, just the idea of the existence of a Black Belt is enough to get some Type A users thirsting after its attainment.

In 2Time, getting to the Back Belt level is hardly the point. In fact, given that the Black Belt level involves research and development of new methods, plus teaching, it might not be of interest to any, other than the most ardent.

The point of the belt levels in 2Time is that anyone can function successfully at any level, and that it all depends on what the user is trying to accomplish with their life.

In other words, 2Time users should get to the point where they have determined that further investments in changing their habits is not worth the extra effort.

This gives the user peace of mind knowing that they are doing their best given the current state of the art, and until there are some breakthroughs in the way time is managed, there is no need for them to improve their skills.

On Being a Black Belt pt 3

I just read a great definition of what being a Black Belt is all about. I am paraphrasing what was written on the website Easy Time Tracking.

A Green Belt spends a great deal of their time working on being more productive, and more efficient.

A Black Belt’s goal, however, is to live better and to savor one’s time, and to live a better life. In other words, their focus is on quality rather than quantity.

Black Belts are simply able to live more of the life they want to live than anyone else, all other things being equal. Continue reading “On Being a Black Belt pt 3”

On Being a Black Belt pt 2

Black Belts are the leaders in defining the 2Time Management system. In effect, they are the system’s innovators that together define and refine the core practices at the core of the system, and at the core of all time management systems.

They are forever researching, testing and trying new approaches as they are made public to see if there are any changes that needed to be made to the system.

Also, they define, and are responsible for, the training that people take to learn the 11 Components. Some may manage the movement of 2Time users from belt to belt, coaching them along the way in breaking new habits and forming new ones.